ANOTHER week, another luxury penthouse. No new residential development in London is complete unless it has a £12m monster sitting astride it, while the rest of the inferior apartments peek up at it in envy. Perhaps it’s to create a natural hierarchy in the block, a way of fostering that “keeping up with the Jones’” neighbourliness so prevalent in the suburbs. Or maybe, as more skyscrapers pierce London’s skyline, you’re no one anymore unless you’re more than 20 floors up.
Native Land and Grosvenor, joint developers behind NEO Bankside on the Southbank, weren’t going to take any chances so they built four penthouses and threw a summer party so everyone knew about it. The launch of The London Penthouses, as they have been christened, saw chart topper John Newman (me neither) croon away in the corner, while Michelin-starred chef Giorgio Locatelli had his picture taken in plush rooms (he made some canapés earlier). The penthouse playing host for the evening was the imaginatively-titled B1601 – a four bedroom, £19.75m duplex clocking in at just over 7,000sqft.
The floor-to-ceiling windows, double-height ceiling and almost entirely open-plan ground floor certainly made it feel enormous. No doubt the light, sharp-edged interiors by Studio Reed added to the illusion but it all felt a bit, well, beige to me. Where were the twisty, embracing sculptures and the full scale replicas of Guernica? If I’m shelling out for a penthouse in one of the world’s greatest cities, I want pomposity and drama, dammit.
While I mentally ripped up the floorboards, I wandered into one of two large outdoor terraces. Comfortable wicker seats and floppy cushions were the order of the day out here and the triple aspect views were genuinely impressive. It’s just high enough to take in a few landmarks but just low enough that you felt close to all the iconic buildings in the vicinity. NEO’s relatively undeveloped spot right next to the Tate Modern’s upcoming exhibition space means you also get an unimpeded view across the river.
Since its construction began in 2009, NEO Bankside has sold off 95 per cent of its housing stock with just over 20 per cent going to UK buyers. This seems right on target as the Southbank is currently busy marketing itself to foreign buyers as “new prime residential” to capture a slice of the thriving Knightsbridge/Mayfair market. The penthouses are even promoted as “one of the world’s great residential top-tier trophies.” It seems money can buy you accolades.
Prices for The London Penthouses range from £6.75m (for 3,488sqft) and £21.25m (for £7,080sqft). For more information, visit neobankside.com.