A home with room service

An apartment or house attached to a hotel - and its facilities - is almost as good as having servants, says Cheryl Markosky
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The Independent Online

In an ever-growing quest for luxury, the latest trend seems to be living next to a slick hotel. Cynics say it is simply a ruse to sell in the stickier top end of the market. But developments that incorporate posh hotels on site - with enough stars to keep a Michelin chef happy - mean that owners no longer have to lift a finger to cook, clean, park, launder or carry out pretty much any task.

In an ever-growing quest for luxury, the latest trend seems to be living next to a slick hotel. Cynics say it is simply a ruse to sell in the stickier top end of the market. But developments that incorporate posh hotels on site - with enough stars to keep a Michelin chef happy - mean that owners no longer have to lift a finger to cook, clean, park, launder or carry out pretty much any task.

Aimed at time-starved, cash-rich young executives whose scope of domestic activity extends to microwaving a ready-made meal, whizzing up a cappuccino in the Miele coffee-maker, or dumping Paul Smith shirts off at a Laundromat, the concept of on-tap Hilton-esque service is highly appealing.

Harry Handelsman from the Manhattan Loft Corporation, the man who imported the notion of loft living from New York, favours the idea of living Ritz-style. "I've always appreciated New York where you can get true luxury. So why not bring the same idea here, where you can purchase an apartment above a hotel and be really pampered if you want to be?"

At No 1 West India Quay in Canary Wharf, a joint scheme between the Manhattan Loft Corporation and MWB Group, residents live on the top 21 floors while enjoying the benefits of a Marriott five-star hotel on the 12 floors below. The idea is a non-stop Sex And The City existence - having a dinner party cooked and served, getting the latest DVD delivered to your door, and ordering lobster thermidor at 3am. "It is like having in-house staff without having to provide accommodation," explains Handelsman, whose Big Apple experiment must be working, with 70 per cent of the apartments already sold. Prices range from £570,000 to £2.5m - and of course, you pay extra for such lavish room service.

At nearby Discovery Dock, a development by the Capital and Provident Group, 322 one-, two- and three-bed apartments, spanning 13 floors, profit from a four-star Hilton on the premises, with leisure, bars, restaurants and meeting rooms. Priced from £315,000, the homes are generating interest within the area, according to Sunny Crouch, of Discovery Dock. "Today 55,000 people work in Canary Wharf, a figure expected to rise to more than 90,000 by 2006. It is a great place to live and work, and this development has some of the best bars and restaurants in London."

Across town, on more traditional hotel turf, you can buy a duplex for £1.25m or rent an apartment for £800 a week at Park Lane Place, a scheme on the top two floors of the five-star Marriott Park Lane, overlooking Hyde Park. Shaun Crockett, of Wetherell, describes this as "an unmissable chance to make use of the hotel's 24-hour porter, household services and leisure facilities." The Knightsbridge also boasts of 24-hour service if you buy one of its 205 homes. And you might argue that you should receive swanky service from the Hyatt International if you're going to cough up £400,000 for a one-bed flat going up to £18m for a six-bed penthouse. Michael Gray, the general manager of the hotel, promises anything from "a Lear jet to Leipzig, to tickets for La Scala".

The good news, however, is that you don't have to be a millionaire to take advantage of a neighbouring hotel. A three-star Jury Inn has opened at St George's Imperial Wharf, where 1,665 homes, starting from £300,000, are being constructed on a 32-acre Thames-side site in Fulham. And Countryside Properties' Merton Abbey Mills on the River Wandle will have a Premier Lodge for owners of its 288 apartments ranging from £185,000 to £245,000.

Two new hotels with more than 450 rooms will sit next to Barratt Homes' Capital East, a £180m Royal Docks project. As well as using the hotel's facilities, residents also gain from restaurants and other retail space on the mixed-use scheme. One-bed apartments cost £245,995, with two-bed dockside apartments from £369,995 and three-beds from £385,995.

Outside London, the phenomenon is catching on, too. Persimmon Homes' The Bridge, with 71 one- and two-bed apartments from £155,000, is adjacent to the five-star Lowry Hotel in Manchester. "The apartments overlooking the river are all south facing, so the sun streams through large patio doors leading onto the balcony, making these urban retreats the ideal place to sit during the summer months," says Richard Tuke, of Persimmon Homes.

Marston Hotels recently opened its £15m The Cambridge Belfry at Cambourne, a new settlement outside Cambridge, by Bovis Homes, Bryant Homes and George Wimpey. Aiming to provide a whole living environment of more than 5,000 homes, shops and services, the project will eventually house between 8,000 and 10,000 people. Alongside a primary school, nursery, doctor's surgery, business park and supermarket, the four-star hotel offers 120 bedrooms, conference and banqueting rooms, restaurants, swimming pool, gym, tennis court, steam room and beauty treatment rooms. Prices start from £153,995 for a two-bed house.

Last but not least is the new concept Apart Hotel at County Hall, Galliard Homes' 395 suites that are a cross between serviced apartments and hotel rooms on the South Bank in London. Investors get a six per cent guaranteed net income for up to eight years on units starting at an affordable £235,000.

Apartments at No 1 West India Quay are available through FPDSavills 0870 7700190; Discovery Dock, FPDSavills 020-7093 4000; Park Lane Place, Wetherell 020-7493 6935; The Knightsbridge, Jones Lang LaSalle and FPDSavills 020-7581 2323; Imperial Wharf 020-7610 9693; Merton Abbey Mills 020-8543 6377; Capital East 020-7476 7163; The Bridge 0161 834 9211; Cambourne 0800 3897525; Apart Hotel 020-7620 1500.

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