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Half a million pounds for a ride to the gym. . . Why not use the stairs? CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s television


Half a million pounds for a lift to the gym. . . Why not use the stairs? CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s television

  • Featured property of Britain’s most expensive houses with a £500,000 lift

Upward mobility and social climbing are not just for people. Houses can do that too.

Around the back of Upper Grosvenor Street in Mayfair during Georgian times was a coach house, where the Earl of Essex’s groom and his family lived on top of the horses, at 25 Culross Street.

The servant’s quarters were converted into a brick-fronted mews cottage after the First World War, becoming the home of a local merchant and renamed Culross Cottage.

But during the lockdown, the house was torn down and rebuilt with carefully selected bricks at once, with a three-story subterranean extension that descends to a pool, steam room, clubroom and bar.

Now in the style of a ‘rowed-house mansion’, it was displayed for sale for £30 million in Britain’s Most Expensive Houses (Channel 4). Like any billionaire celebrity, she’s had a lot of work. If estates could have breast implants and lip fillers, this one wouldn’t hesitate.

No 1 Hannover Terrace in Britain’s Most Expensive Houses (Channel 4)

The documentary skidded on his story. High-end estate agents who dropped by for champagne dinner at an open house night were most interested in the Lalique chandeliers (£17,000 a pair), the underground kitchen (£280,000) with its four voice-activated ovens and the glass elevator (£460,000).

No one commented on the folly of installing a lift for almost half a million pounds, to take you to the gym, when you can simply start your workout by taking the stairs.

Developer Kam Babaee might not have taken it kindly. Her face, when a saleswoman had the temerity to stroke the hand-woven silk wallpaper (£1,600 a roll), was a silent storm.

She probably wasn’t in the best of moods after paying £730,000 to celebrity manicurist Leighton Denny last month. Denny sued Kam’s company, K10 Developments, over moisture problems at her £1.3m home in Chiswick. That wasn’t mentioned on this show either.

The mews house was out of the price range for a Houston tech CEO named Fiyyaz, who only had £10m to spend, even though he flew to London for just one day to make a few visits.

Fiyyaz arrived in the biggest boots anyone has worn since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. This seemed strange, until we caught a glimpse of the interior of his Texas apartment, where a portrait of the famous Emperor Napoleon hung on the wall. Perhaps Fiyyaz is aware of his stature.

He turned down a £7.5m boutique apartment in Bayswater, complete with Armani and Fendi furniture, partly because he didn’t like the open kitchen. Fiyyaz was concerned that he could see the chef preparing his meals, which would be “intrusive”.

What you really need is an underground kitchen. It’s a pity he can’t afford the mews house.

All of this extravagance dwarfed the budgets for George Clarke’s Old House, New Home (Channel 4), though the families that invested every penny in their renovations undoubtedly got much more value.

The star property in one entertaining episode was an 1870s six-bedroom house in Kent built by a county brewer. Among its glorious period features was a rack of bells like those in the Downton Abbey kitchen, mounted on circular springs and connected to bell pulls in the various rooms.

George liked that much better than the 1980s brick addition behind a Victorian house in Warwickshire. Usually such a positive guy, rarely expressing criticism beyond a wince, didn’t hold back. ‘Awful!’ he kept saying. When he got over the shock, he added “anemic”, “exhausted” and “very cheap”. He then he muttered another ‘awful’.

Michele, the owner of the house, duly had the extension removed. After that panorama, she could hardly do anything else.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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