Luxury developments ramp up amenities arms race

Running in style at Long & Waterson's in-house gym.

LUXURY spa, private screening room, sunken amphitheatre, games lounge, business centre, juice bar, private bowling alley: one could be forgiven for mistaking this as a list of amenities at a five-star hotel.

In fact, these are the perks on offer to residents of The Stage, a £750million residential, commercial and retail development currently under construction in Shoreditch, on top of the archeological remains of William Shakespeare’s Curtain Theatre.

Yes, when it comes to communal facilities in London’s most luxurious developments, a treadmill in the basement and a barbecue out the back doesn’t quite cut the mustard.

An “amenities arms race” has broken out amongst top-end developers, who are using golf simulators, private clubs, and even restaurants to set themselves apart from the competition.

One Blackfriars, a 50-storey residential development on the South Bank where two-bedroom apartments are being marketed at £2.33m, has been kitted out with a pool, gym, private screening room, executive lounge, wine cellar, and a golf simulator.

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The 56th level of South Quay Plaza is dedicated to resident amenities.

In Canary Wharf, Berkeley Homes’ South Quay Plaza has an entire floor on the 56th level dedicated to residents’ amenities, a conference room, and a private club with a lounge, bar and terrace for entertaining guests. There is also a health club with infinity pool overlooking the Thames. Prices for a studio start at £780,000.

Ben Ainsworth, sales manager at Knight Frank, says that the appetite for amenities is growing at the top end of the market from buyers who will fork out the big bucks for luxury facilities that make their lives easier.

“I think most people buying into a luxury development these days expect concierge, a gym – and a good one too – but are also seeing the appeal of residents’ lounges which they can book out for meetings or parties,” he said.

“Now we’ve seen valet parking in some places, golf and shooting simulators… particularly from overseas buyers we’re seeing amenities as much higher on the list of priorities.”

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Residents swimming pool at Berkeley’s Goodman Fields development in Aldgate

But how much value does a sauna or bowling alley actually add in the eyes of buyers, particularly when most communal facilities generally come with hefty service fees for residents.

A study into the demand for high-end residential amenities from Knight Frank found that while 46% of respondents appreciated having access to extra facilities, 49% had either avoided buying into a building with amenities or would prefer not to have them in return for lower service charges.

When asked which services or amenities they were most willing to part with, 84% would forego a wine cellar, 82% could do without a spa, and 80% said they would give up a library in order to reduce costs.

At the other end of the scale, just 4% said they were willing to part with 24-hour security and 9% said they would give up basement parking and concierge services, making them the three most sought-after services.

Ben says that while certain facilities – like swimming pools – seem to be less impressive to buyers, most are less concerned by service charges and more by the additional space they can enjoy.

“It’s important to remember that all of these facilities and amenities add to the square footage of your apartment,” he says.

“You could pay the same amount for a 1,000-square foot house as you might for a 700-square foot apartment in a luxury development in the City but you’ve technically got all the extra space from the pool and the gym and the lounge.

“I think in the future we might start seeing people sacrifice space for better facilities.”

Lap of luxury: living is easy at these City developments

One Blackfriars SE1
Designed by architect Ian Simpson, the 50-storey skyscraper known informally as ‘the Vase’ will tower over Bankside once complete later this year, offering residents of its 274 apartments access to a full suite of amenities, including: health club with spa, swimming pool and gym, 24-hour concierge, private screening room, executive lounge, and wine cellar.
Contact Knight Frank 020 7861 5409.

Long & Waterson E2
New York loft-style living is on offer in this Shoreditch scheme of 119 apartments across two converted warehouses and a new tower connected by sunken podium gardens inspired by Manhattan’s High Line linear park. Amenities include: 24-hour concierge, spa/ treatment room, wet and dry saunas, library, cinema, and gym.
Contact Knight Frank 020 7205 4192.

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High-line living at Long & Waterson.

The Stage EC1
The stage is set for residents of Galliard Homes’ mixed use development designed around a central plaza that showcases the remains of William Shakespeare’s Curtain Theatre. In addition to the 200-seat amphitheatre and heritage centre dedicated to the playwright, residents of the 412 apartments will have access to: 24-hour concierge, business suite and private boardrooms, games lounge with two bowling lanes, bar and snooker, 32nd-level sky lounge bar and terrace, salon, spa and treatment rooms, and three years free membership to the upmarket Equinox gym in the development.
Contact CBRE 020 7205 2199

Goodman Fields E1
Berkeley’s mixed-use development has transformed a previously unloved pocket of Aldgate into a gleaming hub of apartments, restaurants, public spaces, and a 250-room hotel. Residents have access to: 24-hour concierge, screening room, business lounge, swimming pool and gym.
Contact Knight Frank 020 3823 9930.

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Every night is movie night in Goodman Fields’ residents’ screening room.

One Tower Bridge SE1
Residents of Berkeley Homes’ now completed One Tower Bridge development might be busy gawking at the prime view of London’s most famous landmarks from their living room windows, but there are plenty of other perks to keep them occupied like: swimming pool, plunge pool and spa, gym and virtual golf, 24-hour concierge, and business lounge.
Contact Knight Frank 020 718 5223.

One Crown Place EC2
The pair of skyscrapers towering over a row of Georgian terraces behind Liverpool Street station will house 246 apartments and a seventh-floor communal facilities zone, which includes: gym, treatment room, residents’ lounge and private dining room, screening room, workhub, and 24-hour concierge.
Contact CBRE 020 7420 3016.