It may cost £60,000 a week to rent, but London’s most expensive flat does come with a butler, a choice of daily newspaper – and the use of an Aston Martin. The 448 sq metre art deco Park Lane penthouse is the costliest of a new breed of ultra-luxurious properties designed to cater for the global super-rich, who are choosing to rent rather than buy in London in order to avoid million pound-plus stamp duty bills.
The staggering rent means that a week at the five-bedroom, five-bathroom property in the Grosvenor House Suites costs more than twice the average annual UK wage of £28,000.
But it does come with a private terrace overlooking Hyde Park, a 14-place dining table, a baby grand piano, a butler “at your beck and call 24 hours a day for the duration of your stay”, and a maid to unpack up to 10 cases. The complimentary Aston Martin might be superfluous for many guests, though, judging by the number of chauffeurs waiting near the building.
One afternoon last week, a Rolls-Royce Phantom and a Bentley Continental were hovering outside the entrance to the Grosvenor House block. Another three Rollers were waiting under cover in the building’s dedicated garage.
The penthouse is a favourite of celebrities and Middle Eastern royalty, according to the agents marketing it. “It’s most popular during the summer, when a lot of tourists come – it attracts Arab royalty, who come with big families,” said Ricky Luther, of Chase Apartments, one of several firms marketing the flat.
“They like to be close to Knightsbridge and Mayfair, and have the lovely views of Hyde Park. You can get to Harrods in just five minutes.” Luther said the penthouse had not yet been rented out for a whole year, which would cost more than £3m.
It has, however, regularly been booked for a month or two. “It was recently rented for a month by one of the ruling families from Qatar.” X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger stayed at thenext-door block, which adjoins the Grosvenor House hotel, in December last year.
As well as the maid and butler, apartment guests can call on a 24/7 concierge service to secure tables at often booked-out Michelin-starred restaurants, or to organise helicopter trips to events outside London.
Dan McCaskie, the head concierge, said his team discreetly photograph the rooms of regular customers so staff can organise family pictures and hang clothes in exactly the same position the next time the guests visit.
“They’re not price-sensitive,” McCaskie said of his guests. He was once called on to help a Qatari prince fly his car back to Doha within 24 hours so that the prince’s father would not find out he had taken the vehicle to London.
Grosvenor House Suites, which is owned by the Dubai-based luxury hotel group Jumeirah, will soon face more competition for the richest global visitors to London, as other luxury hotel brands are building serviced apartments nearby.
The Dorchester hotel is working with Indian developer Clivedale to create the Mayfair Park Residences – a block of 18 flats aiming to be even more upmarket and to “set a new benchmark for super-prime residential development in Mayfair”. Residents there will have access to personal chefs, dog walkers, chauffeurs and all the amenities of the Dorchester around the corner.
Research this week found that lettings of London homes costing more than £3,000 a week – £156,000 a year – increased by 28% in the last three months of 2016.
Marcus Dixon is head of research at property data firm LonRes, which crunched the numbers. He said rich foreigners who previously would have splashed out £10m or more on a London home are now renting to avoid paying stamp duty. Stamp duty on properties selling for more than £1.5m is 12%, or 15% if it is a second home. The government, in April 2016, also introduced a blanket 15% tax on £500,000-plus homes bought via offshore trusts.
Property website Rightmove lists more than1,100 London properties with weekly rents in excess of £3,000, including a £40,000-a-week six-bedroom Knightsbridge penthouse flat in a block next to the Candy brothers’ One Hyde Park development. Also available for £40,000 a week is a seven-bedroom house in Mayfair, which features a cinema, swimming pool and underground garage.
Tom Smith, head of super-prime lettings at estate agent Knight Frank, said there was so much demand for serviced luxury apartments that it had become a challenge to find enough to show to the firm’s “ultra-high net worth, incredibly wealthy” clients.