As Hugh Grant’s old penthouse goes up for sale, here’s why sky-high homes are hot property
- Hugh Grant’s former London penthouse has just hit the market again
- Rooftop homes are private, peaceful… and virtually impossible to burgle
- We look at examples on the market from across the UK
Sprawling imperiously at the top of their apartment blocks, penthouses seem to be the natural habitat of the wealthy.
Perhaps that is what attracted actor Hugh Grant to his penthouse, situated between South Kensington and Gloucester Road in the heart of London, in the early 2000s.
The Four Weddings star sold the apartment after a few years but now it is back on the market.
Apart from being the ultimate rich boy’s toy, penthouses make very good sense. Being on the summit of the block means nosy neighbours can’t see what you are up to.
They are gloriously peaceful, despite often being in the centre of the city, and are also virtually impossible to burgle. That makes them perfect as lock-up-and-leaves.
Practical choice: Sought-after countrywide, penthouses offer privacy, are peaceful and virtually impossible to burgle
Grant’s former penthouse offers all of this. Inside, an elevator opens directly into the 3,000sq ft L-shaped living space made up of open-plan sitting and dining rooms, a kitchen area and sunroom.
Floor-to-ceiling windows flood it with light and outside is perfect for parties.
Terraces lead to a gym and if you like company in the Jacuzzi, this one has room enough for six people — with views over the Natural History Museum and the London Oratory.
Penthouses originated in Manhattan in the 1920s. Until then the top storeys had been used as staff accommodation.
Manhattan architects, led by Emery Roth, changed all that, targeting those upper storeys for the super-rich. Wealthy residents wanted space for terraces, a pool and a gym.
The best penthouses have one thing in common — a beautiful view. Ben Cotton has lived with his partner and two young sons in his penthouse in Deal, Kent, for five years and never tires of looking out over the seascape.
‘You can see France on a clear day,’ says Ben, who originally bought the flat as a weekend retreat when he lived in London.
‘You’ll see paddle boarders, kayakers and swimmers going out winter and summer in all weathers. I have taken up wild swimming myself so the penthouse has been a life-changer for me.’
Deal itself may not attract the showbiz glitterati of central London but its proximity to the capital — St Pancras is 82 minutes away — makes it convenient for creatives and journalists such as Jan Leeming, Mary Kenny and Gavin Esler, who all live nearby.
Ben’s penthouse is on the market at £495,000 with Bright and Bright.
Penthouses are sought after countrywide. But prices have stabilised. Hugh Grant’s former abode in Harrington Road, was listed in 2019 for £10 million.
It came back on the market two years later at £9 million which was cut to £7.9 million and today it’s on at £7.25 million with BHHS London.
The ‘northern powerhouse’ cities have bought into them in a big way. In Manchester, Number 1 Deansgate is a three-bedroom, ninth-floor penthouse in the heart of the city, with a 126-year lease, on the market for £1 million with Hunters.
In Leeds, the two-bedroom penthouse at Regents Quay is for sale at £850,000 with what amounts to a starter pack for wealthy Gen Z-ers — Lutron lighting, Sonos sound and £250,000 worth of ‘bespoke’ fixtures and fittings (listed with Fine & Country). It has a 978-year lease.
In Cheltenham, many people are moving from surrounding Cotswolds villages for the amenities — notably the schools — and the year-round festival atmosphere in the town itself. A three-bedroom penthouse in Grosvenor House, has lift access and is listed with HMT at £500,000 with a 982-year lease.
On the Portsmouth waterfront, Gunwharf Quays has changed the feel of the naval port. Its penthouses soar 330ft above the Solent. A three-bedroom penthouse is currently for sale with Yopa for £775,000 on a 175-year lease.
Penthouses are usually sold leasehold, so read the small print in the sales details, particularly regarding service charges.
‘And beware developers squeezing in two flats next to each other to charge the premium for selling both as penthouses,’ says Sara Ransom of Stacks Property Search.
‘Also, if you are buying off-plan, establish the exact layout of the development,’ she adds. ‘Another block could appear nearby, spoiling your views.’
On the market… heights of fancy
Yorkshire: This duplex two-bed apartment is in one of York’s most admired residential buildings. It has two bathrooms. Carter Jonas, 01904 558200. £825,000
Berkshire: Sovereign has released ten one-bed and 40 two-bed apartments set within a Slough landscaped park. Sovereign Living, 0300 330 0718. £385,000
Norfolk: This NEW riverside penthouse apartment in Norwich has two bedrooms and a wraparound terrace. Hill, 01603 882425. £469,950
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