In the heart of Knightsbridge overlooking one of London’s most beautiful garden squares is a new residential conversion that is long on that rare blend of uber-luxe and subtlety
London’s garden squares have been a lure for investors and residents for centuries. A home on a garden square has all the advantages of city centre living, but with a view of trees, grass and carefully tended flowerbeds, and the opportunity to chill out in your private gardens – often surprisingly extensive – on the days when summer comes to town.
Many garden squares are, through a function of history, also in the most exclusive areas of town: Knightsbridge, Chelsea, Belgravia, Notting Hill. With typical London eccentricity, the most exclusive garden square of all is not technically called a square, but a ‘place’. Hans Place is just around the corner from Harrods – a hundred metres or so away, near enough for a quick dash for that Chanel gown for tonight. More oval than square, its northern side is being transformed into Kingwood, six of the most luxurious lateral apartments in Europe.
The development was made possible due to the simultaneous conversion of four neighbouring historic townhouses. “What is incredible about Kingwood is that you have four houses together, built as vertical townhouses, which we are now converting into lateral apartments, on one of the best, if not the best, garden squares in London,” says Alex Michelin, co-founder of Finchatton, the developer. “The person we purchased the properties from spent half his life putting them together.”
In a city not known for its opportunities for lateral apartment conversions, to get 600 sq m on a single floor was “entrancing”, says Michelin.
Some recent developments in Knightsbridge have owed more to Hong Kong or Dubai style, all glass and gold, than London. Not this one. “It’s an incredibly discreet development. We have taken the buildings as they were, with their original facades, and just restored them,” says Michelin.
The interiors, designed by Finchatton’s in-house team, are subtle chic, with taupes and muted tones, evoking a contemporary luxury that would be as familiar to a fashion designer as a private equity principal. “It’s very sophisticated and elegant; there’s no steel, glass or chrome. Our style is understated elegance. People these days don’t want to be flaunting their wealth.”
But while the historic significance of the architecture has been respected, the build is completely up to date. The homes are governed by the latest Crestron home automation system, so you can switch on your air conditioning and the Café del Mar soundtrack, and have your robot butler fix you a dry Martini as you approach in your self-driving Tesla. (OK, we made up the part about the Martini but we’re sure it’s going to happen soon.)
The catch? Three of the six apartments have been sold already. We suspect LUX readers will purchase the rest now.