London can be a lonely place – but not when you’re living in one of the latest luxury developments to offer you new friends, exclusive experiences and a social life on tap.
Improbable as it seems as you pass the cranes of fast-changing Nine Elms on a leadened-skied day, to be among the first residents at Circus West, the first phase to reach completion at the vast building site that is Battersea Power Station feels almost as if you are stepping into a holiday resort.
The Power Club, the development’s residents-only club, is, depending on how you see it, either an amazing "free" perk for those who live there or London’s most expensive members’ club, given you need to buy (or rent) a property to belong (resales now start at £550,000, new penthouses at several million).
Its 5,000 sq ft LINLEY-designed clubhouse has a prime waterfront site, where you can watch the power station’s reincarnation from the comfort of the members’ bar, library, games room or private dining room. There’s a gym and very cool pool whose relaxation area – complete with honesty bar - could be in a trendy Mediterranean resort.
Alternatively, you could tap into the Power Club app – a way to connect with others in your block or across the whole development – and join one of the many clubs that have sprung up. There are wine tastings, film nights (there’s a screening room on site, naturally), five-a-side football in Battersea Park, residents’ jogging clubs, tennis clubs. Of the 400 people who have moved in so far, 219 have signed up for the book club and 293 for chess. Service charges at Circus West are £5 per sq ft, and the first year’s gym membership is thrown in for free.
But why limit your socialising to within the development? A partnership with the Goodwood Estate means residents can continue their knees-ups in the West Sussex countryside. The concierge service, run by former Quintessentially founder Harry Becher, can get you a last minute table at Chiltern Firehouse and tickets for pretty much anything, from the Dior trunk show to an opening night on Broadway. There are even chances to travel with your new Battersea friends, with current opportunities including bespoke trips to see the Northern Lights.
Once, developers just built you a home. Now they build you a life. “We wanted this to be a property club – something that people would seriously see as an extension of the home and a way make and meet friends and enhance their lifestyle,” says Battersea Power Station’s CEO, Rob Tincknell, who sees his role as “oiling the wheels of the community”.
“We have 150 here for Sunday lunch in the club restaurant. Weekend breakfast is huge. People get home from work, stop off in the bar to meet friends who live in their block or head off together to one of the restaurants that have opened onsite,” says Tincknell. “One 65 year old lady told me she’d met more people in four months here than in 10 years in her previous home in Pimlico.”
A new "village" is taking shape, too, to provide the focal point for these new friendships. There’s the General Store run by Raj Bathia, “a local Battersea guy –he knows everyone by name,” says Tincknell. The trendy, modern Village Hall offers a space for everything from yoga groups to kids’ parties. And the units under the railway arches are becoming inhabited by cool, independent enterprises, including boutique coffee shops, gin companies and spinning studios.
“We keep hearing about ‘lights off London’, but this is ‘lights on London’. If you focus on the wellbeing of the people who live there, then the rest of the development can almost take care of itself. Everyone’s talking about placemaking. We’re talking about people,” says Tincknell.
At Lillie Square, where apartments cost from £775,000 in the first piece of Earl’s Court regeneration, the first 100 or so residents who moved in earlier this year are testing out the lifestyle options offered by the newly-opened 20,000 sq ft clubhouse.
All residents get a Lillie Pass – a membership card that gives them access to a range of tie-ins with luxury brands. Selfridges will deliver your shopping, Berry Bros. & Rudd can sort your wine collection and Wild at Heart do same-day deliveries and flower-arranging workshops.
There are ESPA treatment rooms, an Aston Martin at residents’ disposal as part of the car club service, free fizz when you get you hair done at Duck & Dry and discounts in the local Harwood Arms (London’s only Michelin-starred pub). You could live an entire Lillie life without straying more than a few hundred yards.
You don’t need to bother about the mundane things either. Lillie Square’s on-site Lifestyle Manager, Nicola Abad, takes care of that. “So far I’m getting most request for tickets, cleaners and handymen. Some residents can’t live without it. One man, who travels a lot, calls me his London wife,” she comments.
Hardly a luxury development comes on the market today without a concierge to manage your lifestyle. At 525w52nd in Manhattan, where apartments are purely for rent, the live-in director of resident experience, native New Yorker 33-year-old Peter Sheehan, will orchestrate your life.
“Having someone to manage residents’ experiences is the new normal in New York,” says Sheehan, who works for LIVunLtd, a condo concierge company who service 200 developments throughout the US. “Residents at 525 are mainly singles and couples who are making their mark in the world before starting families. They could absolutely afford to buy, but prices are higher than ever and they’re watching the market just as they watch their stocks,” he comments.
He orchestrates what he calls “a playlist of experiences” for residents, whether it’s outdoor yoga, film nights, cooking classes or getting the hottest tickets in town at a moment’s notice. “While the building was being constructed, we were busy constructing the vision for the lifestyle that residents would have here.”
One woman asked Sheehan to get her court-side tickets at the Nadal final in the US Open, just a few hours before the match started. “I managed, but what I wasn’t ready for was the fact she was still at her Hamptons home and needed a helicopter to get her to the match,” he adds.
Welcome to the new resort-style city living, where anything is possible – at a price.