March

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What Is It About London?

London is one of the world’s great cities. There’s so much to see and do that even if you were here for five years you still wouldn’t cover everything, but more and more people are trying! The latest stats from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) on the UKs visitor numbers back up what we have claimed for years – London really is one of the best cities in the world.

The ONS 2015 tourist data represents a real boon for the UKs tourism industry – inbound visitors topped 35.8m for the sixth consecutive year of growth.

Here are the headlines stats:

  • 8m equates to a 4% year-on-year growth
  • There were 6m more visits than in 2010
  • 9m came from America – up 8% y-o-y
  • EU visitors equalled 19.9m – up 2% on 2014

tower-bridge

Tower Bridge © Günter Hentschel

The director of visitbritain.org Patricia Yates said ‘this growth is really fantastic news for the UK economy and shows we’re on track to realise our ambition to grow international visits by more than 20% to 42 million by 2020, which could see an additional £4.5bn in visitor spend, as well as driving tourism across all our nations and regions with benefits felt across the whole of Britain.’

London will always attract the majority of visitors to the UK but there is a fear that the capital’s visitor numbers will decline, says Euromonitor travel analyst Wouter Geerts;‘with London airports nearing capacity, the capital risks losing out to European rivals. To remain competitive in the international city destinations landscape, ensuring connectivity and innovation is key.’

The arguments for additional runways at Heathrow and Gatwick seem to be a political hot potato no-one wants to touch but it’s an issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. Geerts points to the success of the London 2012 Olympics as a driver for the rise in tourism but we’re not going to be able to dine out on that particular triumph for ever.

london-skyline

London Skyline © murphyz

Of course if you are going to be one of the (estimated) 37m tourists to the UK in 2016, you’re going to need somewhere to stay. Here at Euracom, we have a selection of great apartments in London including corporate apartments in or close to the City and in the major commercial areas to budget apartments and vacation apartments in the heart of the bustling metropolis.

Don’t forget to call us on 020 8420 7666 or email info@euracom.co.uk to book your apartment in London for your summer holiday!

By Rob at 31 Mar 2016

Easter in London – What’s Happening?

It’s the first bank holiday of the year! At the time of writing the weather seems to be showing the first shoots of warming up, the nights are a little longer and if you’re in London, there’s a basket-load of things to do, all you have to do is choose one!*

*It’s not as easy as it looks…

Being Easter, the focus is, as it should be, on chocolate eggs, more specifically finding them! There are loads of Easter Egg Hunts all over London and some of the best ones are organised by the National Trust. 

easter-eggs

Easter Eggs © RichardBH

Before we forget, it’s a four-day weekend and most of London’s attractions are open but if you’re going out and about on Easter Sunday, it’s worth checking first, both with the attraction and with your preferred mode of transport because the tubes and buses can often run reduced services.

Here’s a selection of Easter events in London – please note that some are over Easter and some start over the next few weeks but it’s a great list and we promise you won’t be stuck for things to do!

Land of the Lions at London Zoo – From 25th March
It’s the zoo’s newest permanent exhibit where you can get up close and personal with a pride of endangered Asiatic lions just a few metres away and the Lion Temple has been ‘refurbished’ to look like the lions’ home in the wilds of Gujarat in India.

lion

Lion, Colchester Zoo © Martin Pettitt

Willy Wonka Comes To Life – 25th March – 9 April
The clever chaps at the Coca-Cola London Eye have created The Views of Pure Imagination where families can take to the skies in an interactive experience full of story-telling and craft workshops. Look out for lollipop trees and a purple and gold world which is truly scrumdiddlyumptious!

Everybody Loves Lego! 2nd April – 10th April
The Bricks in the Sky exhibition is at the ArcelorMittal Orbit at the Olympic Park in Stratford.You’ll see the Eiffel Tower, the BT Tower and the Empire State Building; professional Lego artists will be building London’s skyline and of course there’s tons of Lego for everyone to play with!

Butterflies, Butterflies Everywhere! 24th March – 11th September
There’s a fantastic interactive butterfly exhibition at the Natural History Museum – now in its 8th year – where some of the world’s most beautiful flying creatures fly free right in front of your very eyes and kids can see the full lifecycle of butterflies, from a tiny caterpillar into a beautifully colourful butterfly coming out of its chrysalis.

butterfly-1

Butterfly © Jdmour

Shhhhh, It’s A Secret! 26th March – 10th April
If you like secrets, you’ll find plenty at the Magic Garden at Hampton Court Palace, once the home of King Henry VIII. There are mythical beasts and fire-breathing dragons in this wonderfully imaginative and interactive play garden in the King’s former tiltyard where real-life knights used to joust more than 500 years ago!

Whatever you’re up to, have a fantastic time, stay safe and don’t forget, if you’re coming to the city and you’re looking for a fantastic apartment in London that’s a stone’s throw from the action, Euracom is the place to come!

By Rob at 23 Mar 2016

The Euracom Guide to Monopoly – The Purples!

So this is it! We’ve circled the Monopoly board and we’ve come full circle, from the cheapest browns of Old Kent Road and Whitechapel Road to the most expensive purples of Park Lane and Mayfair. Interestingly, as far as we can tell, Mayfair is the only square on the Monopoly board that isn’t a specific street but that has never stopped us all from enjoying one of the world’s most famous board games and we’ve loved telling the stories of these iconic London streets so for the last time, sit back, relax and read the tales of the purples…

Park Lane (£350) Rent £35; 1 House £175; 2 Houses £500; 3 Houses £1,100; 4 Houses £1,300; Hotel £1,500

Park Lane is one of London’s most iconic thoroughfares. Running from Hyde Park Corner to Marble Arch, on one side is Hyde Park and on the other are some of the world’s best hotels including The Dorchester, the Four Seasons and the Grosvenor House as well as showrooms for Lamborghini, McLaren and Aston Martin.

You can smell the money as you walk up and down but it wasn’t always like that.

When Hyde Park opened in 1536 by King Henry VIII, Park Lane (then known as Tyburn Lane) was nothing more than a track separating farm boundaries. The village of Tyburn had existed since the 11th century (although it declined in the 14th) and became synonymous with hanging. For hundreds of years, it was the principal location for the execution of close to 50,000 of London’s criminals until 1783 when public executions ceased and for the next half-century or so, ownership of the land changed hands a number of times until around 1820 when Decimus Burton built Hyde Park Corner.

hyde-park-cornerHyde Park Corner, September 1969 © Leonard Bentley

The Grosvenor Estate constructed grand family mansions to attract the wealthy to the area and the road became lined with some of the largest private homes in London as well as fast becoming the city’s most fashionable address. Famous residents included the Dukes of Westminster, philanthropist Moses Montefiore, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Fred Astaire and black market fraudster Sidney Stanley.

In the early years of the 20th century, residential Park Lane started to make way for commercial Park Lane as residents began to complain about the growing noise and smell from cars and buses.

The Marriott opened in 1919, the Park Lane Hotel in 1927, the Grosvenor House in 1929 and The Dorchester in 1931 which became the haunt of choice for the legendary literary figures of the age such as Cecil Day-Lewis and Somerset Maugham.

lambo-dorchester© Spanish Coches

Park Lane is the second most expensive property on the Monopoly board and it’s paired with Mayfair that were designed to be the equivalents of Park Place and Boardwalk from the American version and as a final Park Lane fact, the World Monopoly Championships were held there in 1988!

Mayfair (£400) Rent £50; 1 House £200; 2 Houses £600; 3 Houses £1,400; 4 Houses £1,700; Hotel £2,000

As with the vast majority of London before the 17th century, Mayfair as it became known was predominantly open, muddy fields swamped by the River Tyburn but in 1686, King James II granted permission for a fair to be held there in May. The May Fair allowed those who had survived the plague to let their hair down and indulge in dancing, music and general merriment (which the authorities branded ‘lewd and disorderly practices’).

The May Fair was banned in 1764 because the moneyed classes who had moved in felt that it lowered the tone of the area. Suffice it to say, the area now had a name.

claridgesClaridges Hotel © Dave Hunt

The unusual story of how the seeds of modern-day Mayfair were sown is down to a 12-year old girl called Mary Davies.

She was the daughter of a wealthy financier and she inherited 100 acres of swampland to the east of Park Lane and to the south of Oxford Street. As she grew up, she married Sir Thomas Grosvenor and their son, Sir Richard Grosvenor developed Grosvenor Square and then branched out to Hanover Square, Clarges Street and Brook Street and they became the residences of choice for England’s minor royals and of the first 277 homes in the area, 117 had titled owners.

Other families were developing to the south and Mayfair quickly became the most desirable residential location in London. So much so that it prompted the canon of St. Paul’s, Reverend Sydney Smith to proclaim ‘the area contains more intelligence and human ability – to say nothing of wealth and beauty – than the world has ever collected in one space before.’

 During World War II, the City came under heavy fire and a large number of businesses relocated to Mayfair. In 1939, close to 75% of the homes in the area were used as offices and it took 50 years for those commercial premises to revert back to private homes.

berkeley-squareBerkeley Square © Herry Lawford

Famous residents have included Lord Nelson, composer Handel, statesmen Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden and Benjamin Disraeli, guitarist Jimi Hendrix and eponymous shopkeeper Harry Gordon Selfridge.

To end, here’s a fun Mayfair fact – HM The Queen was born at 17 Bruton Street, the home of her maternal grandfather and Prince Philip had his stag night at The Dorchester!

By Rob at 17 Mar 2016

That’ll Be A Gazillion Pounds Please, Sir…

This month, Britain’s house prices have broken some unwanted records. The average UK home asking price has gone above £300,000 for the first time with six regions hitting new highs. In the North West the average price is £177,500 and in the West Midlands it’s a shade over £200,000 but in London, the average price for a home is a quite staggering £644,000. Six hundred and forty four thousand pounds – are you kidding?! A huge amount for sure, but mere pennies in comparison what the super-rich are paying for a roof over their heads…

Last week, we read an interesting tweet from a middle-aged guy in the creative industry. It basically said that when he started work in the late-70s, his salary was £5k pa and the flat he lived in cost £19,000. Now, people in his position then are earning between £25-30k and the same flat in south London costs £800,000. It’s insane how much house prices have gone up and the latest ‘deposit’ stat – there seems to be a revised number every few months – says that first time buyers need somewhere north of £60,000 in cash just to get on the ladder.

That’s a topic for another day, but once you’re on the ladder and you’re sitting pretty on the top rung, what’s out there for you?

A quick (almost voyeuristic) Google search of ‘London’s most expensive houses’ kept pointing us to one house once owned by a Saudi prince and the Prime Minister of Lebanon that went on sale in 2015. It’s a super-mansion in Rutland Place near Hyde Park and the numbers are simply staggering!

  • Price: £280,000,000
  • Bedrooms: 45
  • Size: 60,000 sq.ft
  • Interior Design: Alberto Pinto
  • Refurbishment Costs: c£50,000,000
  • Floors: 7

rutland-place

2-8a Rutland Place Interior © ProAuction/SWNS

From what we can gather, it didn’t sell and the owners decided to turn it into luxury apartments.

Another super-mansion made the headlines last year, this time in Upper Brook Street in Mayfair. Mere pocket-change in comparison to Rutland Place but this newly-renovated, seven-bedroom 21,000 sq.ft Regency mansion was on the market for £90,000,000.  It included a ballroom for 200 people, a mews home for staff, a 49-ft swimming pool, library, cinema, after-dinner bar (we’re not even sure what an after-dinner bar is), a master bedroom suite taking up an entire floor and it was described by a London property consultant as ‘a truly palatial home ideal for luxurious 21st century living’.

mayfair-mansion

Upper Brook Street Entrance © SWNS

Of course £100m homes in London are rare but there’s no shortage of multi-million pound mansions to buy if you’ve got the cash. Even Zoopla are listing a 17,000 sq.ft, £45,000,000, 6-bed, 6-bath, 6-floor des-res in Mayfair!

But, while London is undoubtedly a very, VERY expensive place to live, these numbers pale into relative insignificance if we look further afield. Like with many exclusive asset classes such as property, classic cars, fine wine or art, getting exact sales figures are often impossible to come by given the fact that people with that much cash usually don’t want the likes of us to know what they’re spending!

Naturally, many of the world’s most expensive homes are in America and are (or have been) owned by celebs and business leaders, but how much are we talking about?

The Manor
Owner: Petra Stunt, Bernie Ecclestone’s daughter
Where: Los Angeles, California
How Much: £54,000,000
Features: 123 rooms, bowling alley, tennis court, gym, 56,000 sq.ft
Odd Fact: There are three rooms purely for gift-wrapping presents

aaron-spelling-mansion-4

The Manor © paradiseleased.com

The Promised Land
Owner: Oprah Winfrey
Where: Montecito, California
How Much: £56,000,000
Features: 42 acres, 14 bathrooms, indoor AND outdoor theatres, 600 rose bushes
Odd Fact: The house was named after a Martin Luther King speech

Xanadu 2.0
Owner: Microsoft supremo Bill Gates
Where: Medina, Washington
How Much: £100,000,000
Features: 66,000 sq.ft, unbelievably high-tech, 60ft swimming pool, heated driveways
Odd Fact: The house was named after the title character’s house in Citizen Kane

The Playboy Mansion
Owner: Playboy legend Hugh Hefner
Where: Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, California
How Much: £138,000,000
Features: 29 rooms, five acres, grotto, zoo, home theatre
Odd Fact: If you buy the house, you have to let Hef live there

Villa La Leopolda
Owner: Lily Safra, Brazilian billionaire
Where: Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
How Much: £485,000,000
Features: 19 bedrooms, 80,000+ sq.ft, tennis courts, bowling alley, 50 full-time gardeners
Odd Fact: King Leopold II of Belgium built the house for a mistress

Villa-Leopolda-1

Villa La Leopolda © www.moneybagsfull.com

Antilia Building
Owner: Mukesh Ambani, Indian billionaire
Where: Mumbai, India
How Much: £650,000,000
Features: 27 floors, 400,000 sq.ft, 168-car garage, 3 helipads, 9 lifts, 2-floor health centre
Odd Fact: 600 staff look after the property in a ratio of 1:100 (six residents)

Antilla-Mumbai-3

Antilia Mumbai © fireflydaily.com

By Rob at 1 Mar 2016

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