A cocktail party for the launch of a London apartment. A golden ticket that I am thrilled to get my hands on. At £6000 per square foot, these apartments are going for at least three times the amount of their close neighbours and the hype and paranoid secrecy surrounding them is intoxicating. I’m on a mission. How is a flat in what looks like an office block worth thirty million quid? I shall be mentally cost calculating all the extra special bits trying to work this out.
But first, what to wear? It’s got to be fab. I will be mixing with the exotica of Europe. Out comes the little black dress, a tad too much decolletage but nothing ventured. Bugger, every pair of tights has holes in the toes. Pashmina, black and beaded.
Then the shoes, Oh yes, this is definitely best shoe time. Stratospheric Mui Mui’s with a splash of gold.
I’m early, so make myself comfy at the Wild Bean cafe in Shepherds Bush to avoid paying Boris his eight quid. A quick tuna sandwich and a lucozade to keep me sprightly, then off to stand on a street corner to await my Inviter.
Down an alley to the back entrance where there are lots of very serious PR blondes with clip-boards checking names. The most officious Annabel leads us through a makeshift builders tunnel to the lift. We are joined by a couple of Eastern Europeans and ascend. We have to wait in the common area before being ushered down very wide corridors to the apartment. More Annabels and horror of horrors lines of white towelling hotel slippers. Oh God. Cocktail dress, decolletage and slippers. I am not the only one looking horrified, a crowd of the richest people in Europe being removed of their Loubotins and Gucci’s are singularly unamused. However, they have the benefit of a few more inches than me. I have shrunk to midget proportions. All thoughts of networking with the great and rich disappear with my heels.
So we are ushered inside where it’s dark and glittery. Champagne is handed out by a pretty French boy. They are non-crystal flutes and frankly the canapes are rubbish. Hmm, very non-£30m.
Oh God, here comes the sales guy. ‘Hello, I’m Lucien from Frank Savills, (or something like that).
Lucien whisks us down the wide hallway to the reception room, definitely not a lounge. He is keen to get us to the wow factor fast. A wall of glass overlooking a park, very nice, worth a few quid that view. Seen the furnishings before, a lot. It’s all dark taupes and gunmetals.. velvets and satins. Looks like some Chelsea housewife walked into Peter Jones and asked for anything expensive.
The usual Tom Ford coffee table book and fine art catalogues, yawn. Silk rugs on dark oak stained flooring. Fabric walls and hammered nickel panels.
We are led back down the hall, nickel door furniture is pointed out several times. What does that cost? Hundred quid a pop? Fabric on the walls with large panels of beaten bronze with lovely patina. Very Jason King of Department ‘S’..
Onto the master suite, well not really a suite. Just a bedroom really, not much bigger than mine and yours. Usual satin and fur bed but at least we’ve been spared the artfully placed silk undies.. Usual telly set into the wall. Silk carpeting, almost black. I can tell it’s silk through the toe holes in my tights.
Lucien points to the ceiling. It’s chilled he says, I maintain a straight face. ‘Cold air circulates above providing sound-proofing and a cooling environment’. I’m on it like a whippet…. ‘So, is sound-proofing a problem?’ A ten minute rebuttal ensues.
The en-suite is arrived at through a bank of wardrobes. Leather clad and padded like Wimpy banquettes. The bathroom is red Tuscan marble, loads of it. The sink is carved from a whole chunk. The shower has a rain shower thingy.
Molton Brown – that’s a surprise, how very John Lewis. I was expecting extract of some rare rainforest orchid at the very least.
Walls again – polished plaster, I’m told. That’s polished cement to you and me. Lots of hammered nickel panels set onto fabric backdrops, yadda,yadda.
Second bedroom, same size as the master- what’s that about? The ‘Master’ pays £30m and his eldest son gets a bedroom the same size to play his gold-plated X-box in.
The third bedroom, narrow, God it’s narrow, is dressed as a study- put a bed in it and you’d really have to suck in that stomach to squeeze past the foot of the bed. A cheap trick more akin to Ann Maurice or a Barratt starter home.
4th bedroom Narrow again- this time dressed as a cinema room.. black velvet sofas against the wall facing the predictable telly. Backgammon & Mahjong sets on the crocodile skin coffee table gives that Las Vegas feel, or so someone thinks.
Still struggling to find bits to add up to £30m. The Picasso in the loo would have helped but I suspect they won’t forget to take it. Let’s try the kitchen.
Oh… The off-white glossy Bulthaup kitchen, Gaggenau appliances and chandelier are wholly typical, I mention that I was expecting a bit more.. ‘But’ says ‘Lucien, ‘If you have a dinner party Heston’s team will come and cook for you’… ‘What, for free?’ I ask. Silly question.
I go for the hard questions… ‘How many have you sold?’ ‘50%’ he says. ‘What? Even at the front where the bendy bus drivers wave back and Eastenders is drowned out by the honking? ‘Yes’ he says, colouring slightly.
What’s the service charge? .. ‘Umm, that is to be decided’.
‘So, come on Lucien, you’re not really getting six grand a foot are you? – you can tell me’. There is squirming. Perhaps it wasn’t ‘Frank’ Savills.
So, let’s go back a couple of weeks to an apartment I saw in the next door block. Same sort of bling, same view, Elton Johns piano. £1800 per square foot. Bottom line, a third of the price. Quite clearly, for some reason that defeats me, it wasn’t as sweet as Candy.