With its royal connections and pretty riverside setting, well-to-do Windsor seems a planet away from the Thames-side regeneration projects of central London, 20 miles downstream.
Its famous castle,the world's oldest occupied fortress, looms over the town and has set the architectural tone.
Local planners have resisted flashy Docklands-style apartment schemes along the waterfront — too vulgar, perhaps — but one boldly contemporary block overlooking the river is winning design plaudits after initial objections that it would be "out of character".
Called Royal Windsor Quay , the development of 16 homes replaces an eyesore 1970s office block in the heart of the old town, moments from the ancient bridge that connects with Eton on the opposite bank.
The striking, cantilevered copper-clad façade has floor-to-ceiling box bay windows, covered terraces and open roof gardens. Two townhouses have been cleverly incorporated, while a spectacular penthouse wraps around the top of the building.
"After the castle, we think it's the best site in Windsor," enthuses Andrew South, director of Hadley Homes, the developer. "The architects deserve praise; it's modern but in context with the traditional style of the surrounding area."
Crisp interiors continue the design theme — dark oak and natural stone flooring, slick white Corian and lacquered kitchens, marble bathrooms, underfloor heating. All rooms are pre-wired for multimedia and mood lighting, while temperatures can be managed remotely when away from the home.
The homes are selling for more than £900 a sq ft, a record for Windsor, proving modern design can be popular even in a prized heritage location.
Prices range from £725,000 to £1.5 million, with basement parking included. The 1,627 sq ft penthouse has a huge living area with foldaway glass doors opening on to a secluded terrace. Call Hamptons International on 01628 407340.
One downside of Windsor, however, is that the town is directly under the Heathrow flight path.
The Claremonts, on the fringe of Windsor town centre, is a scheme of 40 villas, townhouses and flats. Prices from £650,000 to £1.3 million. Linden Homes, the developer, is offering buyers a free interior design package. Call 01753 830451.
Messing about in boats is part of the local lifestyle - as at Henley-on-Thames, where the royal rowing regatta held during the first week of July is a social calendar highlight.
Royal Apartments is a recently completed scheme of 46 flats set back from the riverbank and close to the town's historic church, town hall and market square.
Unusually, the development is a conversion of a 1980s office building, once the headquarters of fund manager Perpetual. The handsome-ish redbrick façade is graced by a commanding arched entrance foyer that adds glamour to the address.
Homes snapped up off plan are coming back on to the market as resales. Prices from £350,000. Call Savills on 01491 843000.