Buy a home, get a whole new social life thrown in
being among the first residents at Circus West – the first phase to reach completion at BatterseaPower Station – feels almost as if you are part of a holiday resort. The Power Club, the development’s residents-only social service, 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 in the development to belong (resales 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 a 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 groups 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, jogging clubs and tennis teams. Of the 400 people who have moved in so far, 219 have signed up for the book group and 293 for chess. Service charges at Circus West are £5.50 per sq ft, and the first year’s gym membership is thrown in for free.
The concierge service, run by 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. A partnership with the Goodwood Estate means residents can continue their knees-ups in the West Sussex countryside. And there are even chances to travel with your new Battersea friends; current opportunities include a trip to see the Northern Lights. Once, developers just built you a home; now, in an effort to justify sky-high prices and get one over on rival housebuilders, 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 to make and meet friends and enhance their lifestyle,” says Rob Tincknell, chief executive of Battersea Power Station, 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 on site,” he says.
“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 friendships. There’s the General Store run by Raj Bathia, “a local Battersea guy – he knows everyone by name,” says Tincknell. The Village Hall offers a space for everything from yoga groups to kids’ parties. And the retail units under the railway arches are filling up with independent enterprises, including boutique coffee shops, gin companies and spinning studios. “We keep hearing about ‘lights-off London’, but this is ‘lights-on London’,” says Tincknell.
At Lillie Square, the first piece of Earl’s Court regeneration, where flats cost from £775,000, 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 offers same-day deliveries and flower-arranging workshops. There are ESPA treatment rooms, an Aston Martin at residents’ disposal, free fizz when you get your hair done at Duck & Dry and discounts in the local Harwood Arms (London’s only Michelinstarred pub). You could live an entire Lillie life without straying more than a few hundred yards.
You don’t need to bother with the mundane things, either. Lillie Square’s on-site lifestyle manager, Nicola Abad, takes care of that. “So far, I’m getting most requests for tickets, cleaners and handymen,” she says. “Some residents can’t live without it. One man, who travels a lot, calls me his London wife.”
Hardly a luxury development comes on the market today without a concierge to manage your lifestyle. At 525, on Manhattan’s west side, where apartments are only for rent, native New Yorker Peter Sheehan, the live-in director of resident experience, will orchestrate your life. “Having someone to manage residents’ experiences is the new normal,” says Sheehan. “Residents at 525 are mainly singles and couples who are making their mark in the world before starting families. They could afford to buy, but prices are higher than ever and they’re watching the market.”
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. One woman asked Sheehan to get her courtside seats to the Nadal final in the US Open, just a few hours before the match started. “I managed,” he recalls, “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.” Welcome to the new resort style of city living, where anything is possible – at a price.
The games room at the Riverhouse, Battersea Power Station’s residents’ club, left, and its restaurant, below
Residents of Lillie Square in Earl’s Court have an Aston Martin at their disposal