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In Focus: One Hyde Park, London

Being uber rich in 2003 meant owning a man-made island off the coast of Dubai, preferably one shaped like your country or even a continent.

However, to truly qualify as a member of the global super class in 2012, your ‘Londonflat’ needs to be a five-bedroom affair at One Hyde Park – lovingly described by its developers as merely, “the most exclusive address in the world”.

The exclusivity claim has merit. The glass-and-concrete apartment block in Knightsbridge is sandwiched between two London landmarks – Hyde Park and Harvey Nichols – and each window opens to stunning views of either unspoiled parkland or the glorious Victorian architecture of old London. The block was originally conceived as a set of 86 flats (although some owners are said to be merging flats and the final number is expected to fall to 80) and a reported 62 of these have been sold.

These include a penthouse said to have gone for a record-breaking £136 million and a parking space for a whopping £250,000. The luxury level of the address can be judged also by the three brands that have chosen to set up shop here: Rolex, McLaren and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank. The complex offers all the amenities you would expect from a top-end hotel – room service, valet service, a 21-metre swimming pool, a gym, spa facilities – as well as sweeteners such as a cinema and a golf simulator. And then comes the icing on the cake; a private underground tunnel through to the Hyde Park Mandarin and dinner at Heston Blumenthal’s.

But more significantly for those who have made many enemies while accumulating their millions, there are also panic rooms, mail scanning facilities, iris recognition in lifts and bomb-proof windows. Perhaps the most desirable aspect for those avoiding the media glare, law enforcement agencies or tax officials is the respect for privacy; the names of only four buyers are down in the official record and at least 25 deals are said to have been conducted through offshore accounts in the British Virgin Islands. That said, occupancy rates at One Hyde Park are still low.

According to The Guardian, the developers believe a sizeable chunk of the £1.424 billion comes from the Middle East’s super rich who have been ‘spooked’ by the Arab Spring and are now looking for less risky investments in London. There are also said to be some Eurozone customers who are now seeking a safe haven for their cash. Clearly, the eventual Pakistani contingent – comprising politicians, members of the establishment and other assortments fromPakistan’s society – that will find its way to One Hyde Park will be in good company.

– Soha Ahmed



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First published on January 1, 2012 in the Real Estate Section of the DAWN National Advertiser.