The Height of Luxury: Defining the ultimate London penthouse

The 'world class' £55m residence at the top of Almacantar's Centre Point scheme ticks all the right boxes, says CBRE's Lisa Hollands

As Almacantar’s remarkable Centre Point scheme officially hits the market, Lisa Hollands talks us through the significance of the penthouse unit in residential development and fills us in on the latest trends from the uppermost echelons…

Lisa Hollands
Lisa Hollands

The penthouse is arguably the most important and defining property within a residential development. Not only is the penthouse known for being the highest value unit within a building, but it can also bring up the value of the floors below.

Both demand and design are affected by a number of factors; market conditions and buyer sentiment, cultural nuances, and interior and architectural trends. One of the most noticeable changes in the penthouse of today is the emphasis on space, and how it is allocated. Historically, penthouses were carved up in to separate accommodation and rooms were frequently spread over two, or even three floors, thus the rise of the duplex and triplex. However, as the traditional penthouse resident has changed, so have the requirements. We now see increasing interest from older buyers, who are usually moving from much larger properties, often outside of town.

Whilst these buyers are downsizers, they do not want to compromise on space and therefore size definitely does matter – penthouses are generally getting bigger. Furthermore, penthouse buyers are increasingly owner-occupiers and therefore require bigger spaces, rather than smaller.

The space needs to be suitable for entertaining, hosting friends and family and generally fit for daily purpose. Lateral open plan space is preferable, allowing for large rooms to be flooded with the natural light that penthouses usually benefit from, whilst high ceilings and magnificent floor to ceiling windows make the most of the views. High specifications and top of the range technology is usually a given, but if the space is wrong then any penthouse is at an immediate disadvantage. Single floor penthouses are also appealing because they inevitably make the property more manageable. Direct life access would be expected in any world-class penthouse; multiple or keyed-off lift access is even more favourable, so that residents and their guests don’t have to share with concierge or staff.

Not only will this penthouse command 360-degree views of the capital, but the iconic Centre Point letters will light up the incredible outside space at night, making this a truly world-class and one of a kind residence

Often, location and product are equal priorities for penthouse buyers. In London, the ability to be within walking distance of the plethora of theatres, restaurants, shopping destinations and cultural hubs that the city offers is an attractive prospect, and in a market where the penthouse offering is so strong, location can be a deciding factor.

At the early stages, developers will work closely with architects and designers to ensure the penthouse will stand out in the market and attract demand, whilst also ensuring that it is sympathetic to the context of the building it sits within. Consulting agents are particularly crucial pre-construction, as they can advise on how the penthouse can command the very best value in its current market.

Finally, it should not be underestimated the premium that outside space, such as a roof terrace, can add, whilst also providing an area to enjoy the exceptional views a penthouse can offer. In my view, one of the finest London penthouses in the pipeline will be at Almacantar’s Centre Point scheme. Not only will this penthouse command 360-degree views of the capital, but the iconic Centre Point letters will light up the incredible outside space at night, making this a truly world-class and one of a kind residence.

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The top 5 penthouse must-haves

1. Views and outside space

Although an iconic view is certainly going to add wow-factor, often what buyers are really looking for are large, expansive windows that flood the accommodation with light. Particularly in built up parts of central London, top floor penthouses are at a real advantage because of the access they have to both natural light, uninterrupted views and frequently outside space in the form of a roof terrace.

2. Amenities

Part of marketing a penthouse is not just selling a place to live, but more importantly a lifestyle. In a competitive market, what can really make a penthouse stand out are world class amenities that are akin to a 5* hotel. Luxury leisure facilities such as top of the range fitness suites, spa treatments and a pool are always favorable, as are extensive concierge and security features. Amenities are becoming more imaginative and niche in new penthouse developments

3. Specification

High specification fittings and smart technology is regarded as a given in most penthouses. Buyers are looking for new concepts in quality, not copycat imitations. As a result, developers have to get even more creative with design in response to buyers changing tastes and appreciations.

Case Study: The Penthouse Edition at 300 Vauxhall Bridge Road, a new boutique development in the heart of SW1, has a huge bi-folding Juliet window from the reception space, leading on to a multi-seasonal roof terrace. Cleverly designed to be an extension of the living space, rather than a separate balcony, the terrace has a built-in BBQ, bar and an outside fire.

4. Living space

Versatile accommodation is a must. Ample lateral open plan space with high ceilings helps to open up the penthouse to the widest buyer demographic, creating a place that is suitable for every purpose, crucially entertaining and showing the penthouse off. As well as reception space, the master bedroom is arguably just as important. The very best penthouses will offer large master suites with super king size capacity and a bed that overlooks some kind of view or window, his and hers dressing rooms and double bathrooms.

Case Study: Fitzroy Place, in the heart of Fitzrovia, has an impressive bedroom offering over 650 square feet of accommodation, as well as a private terrace, living area with integrated fireplace dressing area and luxury spa-style bathroom. 

5. Unique offering

Penthouses are considered the ultimate trophy property – often likened to owning the very finest supercar. Luxury penthouses should offer privacy, exclusivity and a certain opulence; a one of a kind offering. Cleverly designed space and a good square footage, a premier location, high specification and the very best facilities.

Case Study: The Grade II listed Centre Point tower is one of London’s most iconic buildings. Currently undergoing a radical transformation, Centre Point will become a new destination for the capital, offering luxury apartments and world-class resident’s amenities, as well as new retail space and a public square. The Penthouse at Centre Point is priced at £55,000,000. 

Lisa Hollands is Managing Director at CBRE

cbre.co.uk