London – what’s not to love!
Reassuringly expensive, London’s status as a global financial hub combined with its rich history, cosmopolitan culture and world-class entertainment scene means property there should never go out of fashion.
Throw into the mix the security of UK law and our historically robust political system and it’s easy to see why real estate in the capital is especially attractive to buyers from all over the globe. This could be both as an investment for preserving wealth or generating income, or somewhere to own an international trophy home.
Playground for the jet set
World-class on every level, London offers a lifestyle that rivals anywhere else on the planet and one that’s incredibly hard not to fall in love with.
Few places can match the city for art and luxury shopping. Hot spots for browsing galleries and leading fashion brands are based around Prime Central London (PCL) and include Bond Street, Sloane Street, St James’s, King’s Road, Mount Street and of course Savile Row. Then there are the famous department stores, in particular Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols and Dover Street Market.
The food and drink scene in London is as good as it gets and includes 67 Michelin star restaurants, covering all types of cuisine, with many run by celebrity chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Michel Roux Jr and Heston Blumenthal, to name a few. Not forgetting that very British tradition of afternoon tea, best taken at celebrated venues like The Ritz, The Dorchester or Claridge’s.
At the top end of London’s multi-layered entertainment scene, which includes its colourful West End, are its exclusive clubs, such as Dolce Kensington or Raffles, which attract the international jet set and celebrities.
Otherwise, if a traditional pub isn’t your scene, head to one of the many champagne and cocktail bars, including those at famous hotels The Savoy, Hilton and Connaught. Behind all the fun and bright lights, London remains home to the most prestigious elements of British culture and history, from the Royal Family with their landmark palaces and parks, to the Tower of London and Houses of Parliament at Westminster. Does a better setting for a luxury home exist?
Unsurprisingly, PCL is the go-to destination for anyone house-hunting in the most desirable cities around the globe – a home in Belgravia fits nicely alongside another in New York, LA, Monaco, Dubai or one world’s many luxury leisure destinations, such as the Algarve or a Swiss ski resort.
So where to buy with a multi-million pound budget? Unsurprisingly, still stealing the limelight at the pinnacle of the market is Mayfair, and more specifically Grosvenor Square. “Surrounded by the very best restaurants, clubs and retail, Grosvenor Square has reshaped London’s ultra-prime residential market and contributed to the re-emergence of Mayfair as one of the top residential destinations globally,” said Head of Prime Central London Development at agency Knight Frank in a recent report, adding that “together Finchatton’s Twenty Grosvenor Square and Lodha’s 1 Grosvenor Square have crowned Mayfair as the number one address for global wealth in London”.
Other famous neighbourhoods in PCL, home to the bulk of London’s prime (£3m-£10m) and super-prime (£10m-plus) properties, include Chelsea, Kensington, Marylebone, Westminster, Belgravia, Holland Park, Knightsbridge, Pimlico and St John’s Wood.
Buyers in the most sought-after streets in any of these areas have a good chance of having a celebrity or member of the global elite as a neighbour. In recent years, Avenue Road in St John’s Wood has become a hot spot for celebrities, who favour it for its large gated plots and customised mansions.
In February this year, a new 10-bedroom house went on sale there for £75million, notable for its subterranean spa with 14-metre pool, sauna, games room, 12-seat cinema with bar and two wine cellars (climate-controlled, of course). Not far along the road, a wealthy Chinese owner is building an even larger property, with an estimated value of £100million, once completed.
PCL also offers opportunities for investing in the increasingly popular branded residences sector. A recent example, by Mayfair-based developers Clivedale London, is Mayfair Park Residences. The first completed townhouse has just been unveiled there, fully serviced by the adjoining luxury 45 Park Lane hotel, marking the first time the hotel owner, Dorchester Collection, has provided residential management services. Due to complete this year, prices at Mayfair Park Residences range from £4.25 million to £24.5 million.
A good time to buy?
Right now, fiscal conditions should make London even more appealing. Depressed stock markets, historically low oil prices and uncertainty about the economic landscape post-Coronavirus are likely to encourage foreign buyers to seek safe havens for their assets.
For many people, a slice of prime London real estate is the answer, and one that brings lifestyle benefits. Sterling’s on-going weakness – notably against the dollar and euro – and the beneficial effect this has on foreigners’ buying power shouldn’t be overlooked either. While the political clarity that came with the decisive result of the General Election at the end of 2019 has brought further reassurance.
Underpinning all of this is the fact that London, and in particular Prime Central London (PCL), is a bellwether for the UK market and historically has outperformed all other regions. According to recent research by London agency Benham and Reeves, London has seen the largest increase in house prices of all regions countrywide over the last decade, namely up 83 per cent, and since the turn of the Millennium this figure rises to 308 per cent.
The Luxury Property Show, 2nd to 3rd October 2020, Olympia London