Hampstead has never fallen out of fashion. It is said to have more millionaires within its boundaries than anywhere else in the UK, and its "town and country" location, with an 800-acre heath and ancient village so close to central London, ensures its reign will continue.
The area's infinite variety of homes has proved popular with celebrities in every field - from pop idols and premiership footballers to business tycoons and the cultural elite. In its Victorian heyday it attracted wealthy merchants, intellectuals and artists, among them Philip Alexius de László, the celebrated society portrait painter, whose former home, in Fitzjohn's Avenue, is part of a rare new development of 18 luxury apartments.
A 'special' hub for acclaimed artists
De László painted the first official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, as well as portraits of dozens more royals, and film footage survives of him and his wife, heiress Lucy Guinness, entertaining Princess Elizabeth and the Duke and Duchess of York (the future King and Queen) at the Hampstead home in 1933.
Laid out in the 1880s, Fitzjohn's Avenue was the area's most prestigious address, a tree-lined boulevard with 70 arts and crafts villas sitting in spacious grounds and described at the time by Harpers Magazine as "one of the noblest streets in the world".
Budapest-born De László built a studio in the garden and filled the house with priceless tapestries and antiques. During the interwar period, Fitzjohn's Avenue became a hub for acclaimed artists, who would open up their properties on special days - known as Show Sundays - for people to view their artworks.
Prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, a religious order acquired De Laszio's house and two properties next door and opened a girls' school. The buildings then became a hotel. Later niche developer Dandi Living transformed the site into grand lateral apartments, mixing ornate, classic architectural details and minimalist modern interior design, with muted white as the dominant colour.
More than a match
Everything behind the retained listed façade is new. Apartments range up to 3,060sq ft and are priced from £2,450,000 on 999-year leases.
"It is the first prime apartment scheme in Hampstead for almost 15 years and is more than a match for central London," according to Grant Alexson of estate agent Knight Frank. Call 020 7317 7960 or visitdelaszlo house.com.
Top homes in Hampstead have risen in value by 15 per cent since 2009. However, at £1,500 to 2,000 a sq ft, values still lag behind prime central addresses, such as Belgravia and Knightsbridge, where trophy properties are in the £3,000 to £6,000 per sq ft price bracket.