With their elite One Hyde Park apartments, the world’s most expensive when launched a decade ago, developer Candy & Candy rewrote the definition of luxury living in London.
The brothers took luxury to a new level and the magic dust they sprinkled trickled down the market. Builders big and small latched onto the luxury label, creating new sub categories such as “bespoke luxury” and “premium luxury” – even “affordable luxury” – for buyers with different budgets and different tastes.
Luxury has come to mean much more than opulent interior design, though that remains a characteristic of top-end homes, with ever-more exotic finishes sourced from far-flung places. One Mayfair project boasts walls covered in seashells from the coastal waters of the Philippines province of Capiz, while a desk is clad in stingray skin from Indonesia.
High-end developers continue to push the envelope, not just with design but with technological innovation and highly personalised lifestyle services – everything from valet parking to dog walking to personal trainers.
Some developers employ art galleries to curate precious works of art that are available to buy as an accessory. Luxury homes have gender-specific (“his-and-her”) dressing areas with mirrors linked to cameras enabling the body to be seen from all angles; bathrooms double as salons, with special basins and equipment that can be used by visiting stylists and hairdressers. Internal glass walls can become opaque for privacy at the flick of a switch. There are panic rooms, or safe rooms for precious possessions, and perhaps a room for private medical consultations.
Luxury is about aspiration and exclusivity as much as comfort and sensory pleasure. The cachet of a coveted address still counts for a lot. And demand is rising.
In central London, the luxury homes market broadly applies to properties worth more than £3,000 per sq ft (against a London-wide average of about £500 per sq ft). Data from Savills shows there were 237 sales above £5m in the first six months of 2021, 61 per cent higher then the same period in 2019 (pre-pandemic).
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