The most wanted addresses of the capital’s super-rich At 3am, One Hyde Park’s luxury apartments are wide awake. The revolving doors swish with bleary-eyed international traders returning home to do laps in the luxurious 22-metre basement pool before bed.
High-rollers bundle in from an evening at one of Knightsbridge’s casinos, before sinking into plush seats at the downstairs cinema, while a concierge scuttles through the tunnel connecting the building with the five-star neighbouring Mandarin Oriental, fetching a burger for one of the apartments above. This is what it’s like to live at the top.
But it’s not simply the 24-hour, no-expense-spared treatment at One Hyde Park for which the building’s residents are forking out upwards of £14,500 a week. Living at number ‘one’ has become a status symbol worth paying through the nose for.
Since Candy & Candy’s (in)famous development opened in 2011, a slew of copycats have followed their marketing strategy: when it opens (scheduled for 2017), One Tower Bridge’s one-bedroom apartments will be worth upwards of £1.475m, while units at One Nine Elms, due to open in 2018, start from £1.2m.
By 2020 they will have been joined by One Blackfriars, One Kensington Gardens, One The Thames and One The Elephant.
What’s so special about being number one? ‘It brings an unquestionable sense of exclusivity,’ says Jacob Sullivan, head of sales and marketing for Berkeley Homes (the developers behind One Tower Bridge). ‘Buyers want to know that they’re getting the best in class, and the most prestigious address in the area is all part of the package.’
‘One’ has usurped ‘the’ as the word everyone wants in their address,’ agrees Dominic Grace of Savills. ‘The previous trend was to give a property a definite article: The Lancasters, The Bromptons, The Phillimores. Both imply a rarefied world of being the one and only.’ One Hyde Park is actually 100 Knightsbridge — but the former looks a lot better on a letterhead.
Perhaps, to truly understand the appeal, you need to put yourself in the mindset of a billionaire. Rather like the old saying, ‘What do you get the man (or woman) who has everything?’, being Number One is the finishing touch for the apartment that has everything. It offers a level of exclusivity beyond the material.
After all, every one of these developments is already fantastically luxurious. One Hyde Park boasts a baby grand piano in the lobby and artworks that rotate to reveal TV screens in the rooms; One Tower Bridge will have an Ivy Brasserie, a state-of-the-art gym and a virtual golf simulator; while residents at One Nine Elms will have access to the concierge facilities of the five-star Wanda Vista hotel, as well as the type of karaoke TV rooms that may already be popular in China but are a USP in London.
So far, so good — if you’re a fat cat — but while they could get similar service at Fitzrovia Apartments or NEO Bankside, having ‘one’ in the name is the icing on the cake. As one letting agent specialising in these properties put it: ‘There’s a real “my car’s bigger than your car” trend with a lot of our buyers.
Even when they’re in the building they’re comparing their two-bed with their neighbour’s three-bed. They wear Gucci, but it’s embroidered in gold letters; and when you walk into their apartment it’s usually covered in gold.’ And they want to be number one.
Another factor driving the trend may be the association with English Heritage. The ultimate — and original — number one address is, of course, No 1 London, the stately Georgian palace, also known as Apsley House, at Hyde Park Corner.
The residence of the first Duke of Wellington, it’s hardly changed since he won at Waterloo in 1815, boasting paintings by Velázquez and Rubens within its extensive art collection. But, more importantly, how cool does it sound?
As Edie Campbell — who cited the spot as her dream home when we interviewed her in March — put it: ‘It’s the best address.’ It’s not on the market (it’s lived in by the 9th Duke of Wellington, although his daughter-in-law, former model and socialite Jemma Kidd, has her eye on it). Is it any wonder so many others are getting in on the act?
‘Calling something a name that conjures up London’s tradition is an advantage — and from a branding point of view it’s a heck of a lot easier to deal with a “one” than a 162,’ agrees Andrew Derrick, creative director at property marketing agency Socrates Communications.
With 70 per cent of buyers coming from overseas, it’s no surprise to learn that the ‘number one’ address holds particular cachet with foreign investors; Derrick recounts how a buyer from Abu Dhabi plumped for a ‘one’ address when buying in the One Kensington Gardens development, ‘to leverage its connection to Kensington, famous the world over as the Royal Borough.’
Then there’s the trust factor: strangely, the solidity of a ‘number one’ offers a value assurance to investors. ‘If you’re flogging off-plan properties in foreign countries, you are obviously trying to sell something to someone where not only is the property not built, but they’re unfamiliar with the country that they’re thinking about buying in,’ says Callum.
‘Having some sort of tag that can reassure potential buyers is certainly helpful.’ You’re buying the best, so why worry? Who says there’s no such thing as nominative determinism?
Interestingly, it’s not just in the fantasia of luxury new-builds than the ‘one’ tag has cachet. Savills’ analysis of terraced housing sales reveals that there’s a premium of 14.5 per cent on ‘one’ properties in London. Live at the right end of the road? Jackpot.
If not, you could do a One Hyde Park and rechristen your home. That said, don’t expect everyone to take it at face value. Sage notes that although many of their new properties have adopted the ‘one’ title on the market, each flat has to be given a proper address — and the post office often ignores the glamorous title.’
Like anything exclusive, exposure diminishes the value. With every new ‘one’ development built, the singularness becomes more plural. One Nine Elms is only so-called because ‘one’ is actually is the listed address — and the name stuck. ‘It’s not original,’ sighs Mills, ‘but it works.’ For the time being, one’s number-one spot is unrivalled. Though surely it’s only a matter of time before the zeroes move in.