No room for cat-swing­ing

Look­ing for a chance to live in London's most ex­clu­sive area? Per­haps you can - if you don't mind com­pro­mis­ing on space, says Christo­pher Mid­dle­ton

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page - Wetherell Es­tate Agents (020 7529 5588; wetherell.co.uk)

Abed­room-cum-kitchen­cum-liv­ing room doesn’t of­fer the most spa­cious ac­com­mo­da­tion. The sofa is not just for sit­ting on; it folds out and be­comes a bed, which takes up about a quar­ter of the 16 sq ft floorspace.

That’s the bad news. For the good news, just look out of the win­dow. Cat-swing­ing might be out of the ques­tion, but no one can take away the fact that you are liv­ing in May­fair. That’s to say, in London’s – and the Mo­nop­oly board’s – smartest area. Since 1976, re­search from Knight Frank shows, it has been the strong­est res­i­den­tial mar­ket in the cap­i­tal.

Nor is this some out-of-the-way bit of May­fair, ei­ther, but top-ofthe-range Mount Street. Squeeze out onto the tiny bal­cony (we’re on the top floor here). If you peer over the edge, you look down on Scott’s Restau­rant, scene of those in­fa­mous Nigella-Law­so­nand-Charles-Saatchi pho­tos.

Lean over a bit to the right, and you can glimpse the mighty, red-brick bulk of the Con­naught Ho­tel, where rooms start at £450 a night and suites at £720.

That be­ing the case, you are get­ting May­fair on the cheap, since this flat costs only £89 a night. And although that mounts up (the rent is more than £2,500 per month), that gets you 30 nights in London W1 – but only three nights in a suite at the Con­naught.

Liv­ing spa­ces are get­ting smaller all the time, es­pe­cially in ci­ties. The es­tate agent’s par­tic­u­lars de­scribe this prop­erty as a “stu­dio” flat, and de­spite its mod­est di­men­sions it does have a cer­tain sort of disco-cum-cock­tail-bar at­mos­phere.

In­stead of go­ing for a stan­dard white-and-cream colour scheme, the own­ers have opted for black with a hint of gold.

“Per­son­ally, I think it’s been quite skil­fully done,” says Jayne Wel­don, who is rep­re­sent­ing Wetherell, the es­tate agents mar­ket­ing this apart­ment (its of­fices are 50 yards down the road).

“The stan­dard re­sponse to a small flat is to go for white wall, and fill the place up to make it look homely. Here, though, they’ve gone the other way, and I think it works well.”

You can’t ac­cuse the de­sign­ers of be­ing half-hearted in their pur­suit of the darker end of the colour pal­ette. The wash­ing ma­chine, toaster, espresso maker, oven, oven hob, fridge, ket­tle, mar­ble sink and sur­rounds are all black. As is the chest of draw­ers, china cab­i­net, bath­room tiles, wash­basin ex­te­rior and most of the liv­ing room walls.

Oh, and don’t for­get the soap, the Roberts ra­dio, the Fort­num&Ma­son bis­cuit jars, and even the tubes of sham­poo and mois­tur­is­ing cream in the show­ers. You can also count the framed pic­ture over the black book­cases. This is a blown-up im­age of a penny black stamp – with the Queen’s pro­file cre­ated out of lit­tle mother-of­pearl white but­tons, placed on a jet-black back­ground. And then there’s the floor (al­li­ga­tor-skin dark brown), and the ceil­ing. The only things from the lighter end of the spec­trum are the sofa (pale cream), the floor rug (flashes of king­fisher blue) and a set of bar stools cov­ered in what looks like well-groomed buf­falo skin.

As for the front hall­way, you can’t tell what colour any­thing is. It’s so hard to find the light switch, leav­ing you flail­ing around in to­tal gloom.

Un­til re­cently, we are told, the woman who owns the flat has used it as an oc­ca­sional London pied à terre. Now, though, she is go­ing to rent it out.

And the im­me­di­ate ques­tion is – to whom?

“Oh, you would be sur­prised,” replies Jayne, paus­ing from her tape-mea­sure-hold­ing du­ties. “The great thing about May­fair is that it is so cen­tral. You can walk to prac­ti­cally any­where else in the mid­dle of town in no time.

“Also it’s a pretty safe area; the streets are com­par­a­tively crime­free. As it hap­pens, quite a few par­ents buy or rent places here for their chil­dren to live while they are stu­dents in London. If you’re go­ing to have a small flat, then far bet­ter to find a place in this kind of neigh­bour­hood.

“Look out of the win­dow at the back, and you’ve got lovely views of the church and the li­brary. Plus lots of at­trac­tive old roofs and chim­neys – it’s all very Mary Pop­pins.”

It’s just a shame that there isn’t room to go fly a kite. Or even swing your pet moggy.

Dark and hand­some: what the May­fair stu­dio lacks in size it more than makes up for in its black-themed decor

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