They were hyped as the ultimate luxury flats. But has anyone moved in to London’s exclusive One Hyde Park yet? Neil Tweedie reports
The hyper-rich people One Hyde Park was built to accommodate prefer not to be noticed in the main, certainly by people who may begrudge them their money. But if trouble does come calling, and manages to evade the sharp-suited muscle on the doors, there is always the panic room. One Hyde Park has it all: bomb-proof windows, rotating paintings-cum-television screens and cameras that allow you to check for dandruff on your back while grooming yourself in the mirror. Then there is the gourmet food delivery service provided by the neighbouring Mandarin Oriental hotel via an underground tunnel. Such features come at a cost, of course.
The development contains Britain’s most expensive flat, a £136 million, three-storey apartment recently acquired by the Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov. Mr Akhmetov, whose interests range from steel to hotels, is worth about £10 billion, making him the richest man in his country. So the £60 million he intends to spend on decorating his new pad will make only the smallest of dents in his bank balance. He and his wife Liliya, who is understood to have a fondness for London, are in good company, counting Russian oligarchs and Arab princes among their neighbours.
But are there really any proper residents in this temple to conspicuous consumption? Or is One Hyde Park merely a “ghost block”, a repository for wealth, a safe place to park some money in an uncertain world?
Costing £1 billion, One Hyde Park is the creation of brothers Christian and Nick Candy, a double act who evoke admiration and disdain in equal measure. Fans of the thirty-something developers credit them with creating the current boom in super-luxury homes in London, while detractors accuse them of sponsoring invasive, tasteless developments. It can be safely assumed that the Prince of Wales is in the latter camp. He torpedoed the Candys’ plan to redevelop Chelsea Barracks into flats, persuading his fellow royals in Qatar to withdraw funding. Like the abortive Chelsea project, and the Shard skyscraper on the south bank of the Thames, One Hyde Park has been built with Qatari money.