Waiting in for deliveries is a frustrating business for Londoners, which is why a comprehensive concierge service is one of the best benefits a new-build apartment can offer. And, after all, if you have to pay a hefty service charge at your new home, you might as well make the most of what it pays for.
"Hotel-style living", with a smartly dressed concierge at reception, is tempting buyers at new schemes, alongside residents' gyms, spas and cinema rooms. Some new developments offer room service, most will collect your dry-cleaning deliveries, and a few will even walk your dog. What used to be a central London luxury service can now be found in outer zones, at shared-ownership schemes and at new-build rental developments.
A slice of the Zone 1 action
Among the best shared-ownership schemes now boasting hotel-style services, Two Fifty One in Southwark Bridge Road, Elephant & Castle, SE1 has stunning views of the City from its 41-storey tower plus a cinema, gym and a full team of concierge staff. A 25 per cent share of a one-bedroom flat here, in Zone 1, starts from £111,250 with annual service charges yet to be released. Completion is in November. Call Hyde New Homes on 0345 606 1221.
At Poplar Dock Marina in E14, shared-ownership apartments at Horizons Tower are now complete and their full concierge facilities "prove you don't have to pay high-end prices to get high-end services" says Notting Hill's head of sales Simon Neary. A quarter share of a one-bedroom flat starts from £94,375 plus service charges of £148 per month. Call 020 3815 1234.
Rentals with concierge
In Hillingdon, west London, be:here Hayes recently launched with purpose-built rental apartments where concierges clean communal areas and tackle small repairs. Specialist rental company be:here recently surveyed tenants and found they rate an on-site team third in importance after price and location. One-bedroom flats start at £1,270 a month. Call 0845 600 4050.
For deeper pockets
Developer Sons & Co says the concierge is an essential feature. "Keeping spare keys, signing for mail, and simply being a welcoming, friendly face at the end of the day is all part of the service," says founder Alex Stocker. Concierge desks are staffed round the clock at VI Castle Lane in Birdcage Walk, Victoria where one-bedroom apartments start from £825,000. The annual service charge is £3,759. Ready by this summer — call Strutt & Parker on 020 7318 4677.
VI Castle Lane's service charges equate to £7 per square foot but prices vary widely. Caspar Harvard-Walls of buying agents Black Brick says the steepest charge he has seen is £20 per square foot at One Hyde Park, Knightsbridge.
Obtain written details of service charge costs before committing to buy, advises Richard Daver of managing agency Rendall & Rittner. "Developments must be high-end or large-scale otherwise costs go up." The agency handled 1,755 parcels across 37 London developments over the festive season and additional services include dry cleaning, car services, flowers, wine storage and booking restaurants.
Residents at the Abell & Cleland apartments in Westminster have 24-hour concierge and can even order room service thanks to the partnership with the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel opposite. Flats start from £1.94 million, with service charges to be announced. Completion is in March. Call Berkeley Homes (020 3813 5884).
The Townhouse Collection at Fulham Riverside, a group of five-bedroom homes, has the use of a Conran-designed lobby with a 24-hour concierge, fitness suite, outdoor gym, badminton court and a proposed waterfront café. Prices start from £3.9 million plus service charges of £2.05 per square foot. Ready by 2020, call 020 7751 3999.
The Star and Garter, the restored Grade II mansion overlooking Petersham Meadows and the river in Richmond, contains 86 flats and duplexes, with concierge duties that include driving owners to Richmond station in the scheme's Mercedes S Class. Sales manager Sandra Bruce says the "white-glove service" from Harrods Estates saves owners money on caterers, cleaners and dog walkers, as there are no agency fees on top. "Buyers at this level expect this type of service, it's been key for sales." With the scheme over 70 per cent sold, two-bedroom homes start at £1.75 million with service charges of £7.30 per square foot. Completions start this year. Call London Square (0333 6660102).
Go club class
Quintessentially runs a membership club at The Fitzbourne in Fitzrovia and dressed a 40ft tree for clients at Christmas.
A year's membership to the private club is included, says developer Oakmayne Bespoke. Apartments start from £2.63 million plus estimated service charges of £5.25 a square foot. Call CBRE (020 7420 3050).
At Wimbledon Hill Park, Berkeley's Tim Pettman says buyers expect business and leisure facilities, including concierge. Flats from £1.15million with £1,681.75 annual service charge. Townhouses from £2,899,950 with £4,585 yearly service charge. Ready later this year. Call 020 8003 6139.
Russell Croxford, is duty manager at Abell & Cleland apartments in Westminster where a round-the-clock concierge team offers a "fivestar service". Usual tasks include taking in parcels, handing out keys and welcoming visitors.
Checking whether an oven has been left on is commonplace but no two days are alike, says Croxton. "One gentleman rang down while watching TV as he wanted to buy a similar table to one he could see on Antiques Roadshow. We managed to track down the show's contact information for him. We're ready for anything."