One Hyde Park, London


While walking through Hyde Park in London I saw a man flying a falcon and thought I’d go and have a chat with him. He lived near Ascot and came to One Hyde Park “to keep the pigeons down.” He was letting it fly up onto trees and balconies, tempting it back with food and then repeating this down the whole block. I suppose you have to be quite wealthy to employ someone to do this a couple of times a week. You feel like you should be wealthy just to look at these residential blocks as flats cost up to £160 million each.


Falcon man said everyone he spoke to in the building were mostly lovely, shy and foreign. I think the common thread was sheer wealth. Ukraine’s richest man Akhmetov bought a triplex penthouse here for £136 million and then spent £60 million on renovations. The Candy brothers who built the flats (they started their property business with a £6,000 loan from their grandma) own separate flats worth £31million and £26.2million on the tenth floor. Falcon man said there’re a couple of Arab sheikhs with flats here, also the Qatar royal family who are having three flats bashed into one super-flat. Not everyone here is immune to money problems as in September 2013 a one-bedroom apartment in the complex worth £5.25m was repossessed.


This place probably echoes with its wasteful vacancy: at the time of writing only 17 of the 86 flats are listed as primary homes. Most of them are probably empty for most of the time. Security is paramount: panic rooms, bulletproof glass and bowler-hatted guards trained by British Special Forces. There is also iris recognition in the lifts and all mail is X-rayed. There’s a 21-metre swimming pool which is said to be nearly always empty, saunas, a cinema, gym, golf simulator, wine cellar, concierge service, conference room, library and valet service. There’s even room service operated through a tunnel from the five-star Mandarin Oriental hotel next door.


Having walked up passed Harrods I could see that One Hyde Park with its four pavilions is a Janus building in that it had two faces looking in opposite directions. The quiet side looks over Hyde Park and the noisy side looks down a bustling shopping street. I’d prefer the latter as I’m nosy and like people-watching. At floor level on the noisy side of the flats are Rolex, McLaren Automotive and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank.


I’m an old fossil who doesn’t like change and prefer the 1950's office block that stood here before. Sadly it was demolished from July and December 2006 and the flats standing here now were finished four years later. I was there for about twenty minutes and didn’t see one person at a window or on a balcony. I got the impression it’s a half-empty building used for tax purposes with a whole lot of nothing in it. Falcon man had another appointment that afternoon and couldn’t talk for long.




An office block called Bowater House once stood here…


What a beauty…



It near Chelsea Barracks where the horses are stabled…

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