The popular perception of the super-rich lifestyle may be one of luxury yachts, constant travel to exotic locations and ownership of a string of high-class apartments in major cities across the planet.
However, even for the most wealthy members of modern society, buying property in some of the world’s great metropolises is becoming less desirable. Real estate prices have soared to eye-watering levels, and many city jurisdictions now levy substantial property taxes on their richest inhabitants.
Dubai-based luxury hotel group Jumeirah think they’ve spotted a gap in the market here. Their idea is to offer the highly moneyed all the comforts of a permanent luxury home, without the expense and tax complications involved in owning a property that may be used only for weeks in the year. The result is a luxury penthouse apartment rental named Grosvenor House Suites, located in the seriously upmarket Park Lane district of London.
The cost? A staggering $75,000 a week – not exactly small change even for today’s breed of mega-rich globetrotters. So what do the apartment’s customers get for their considerable payment? The answer is “quite a lot”.
The suite itself is spread over more than 4,800 square feet of floor space, and consists of five bedrooms, five bathrooms, a private terrace overlooking the famous Hyde Park, and an entertainment room complete with a 14-seat dining table and baby grand piano.
The penthouse also has a complement of staff, including a 24-hour butler station, and helpful maids to unpack up to ten suitcases upon arrival. Guests also have access to a well-connected concierge service to smooth access to the British capital’s most exclusive restaurants, clubs, and theaters, along with the free use of the house Aston Martin for getting about town.
As a final attention to detail to make any itinerant oligarch feel perfectly at home, the apartment’s staff can discreetly photograph the layout of the apartment by the end of the stay, making a permanent record of such things as wardrobe contents, positions of family photographs, and so on. The preferred arrangement can then be exactly reproduced for the next visit to make for a seamlessly comfortable experience.
Naturally, for privacy reasons the owners are somewhat reticent about providing details of previous penthouse suite residents, but it’s fair to say that the intended clientele are not overly sensitive to price concerns. Past visitors include members of various Mid-Eastern royal families awash with oil wealth, along with numerous A-list celebrities who value comfortable privacy, and are prepared to pay extravagantly for it. No matter the price, the near-constant presence of luxury vehicles and attendant chauffeurs waiting in the forecourt area suggests business is going well.
It may seem an extreme indulgence to vacation at a weekly rent far higher than average annual income of those living not so far away, but Grosvenor House Suites and similar developments are proving to be a considerable success. Even for the richest, the effects of a superheated real estate market along with surging property taxes are making private metropolitan property ownership increasingly unattractive financially.
However, for those wealthy individuals accustomed to luxury at every turn, what price a week or two of exclusive comfort and privacy in one of the world’s most prestigious capital cities?