THERE IS a saying that one should never go back. Naturally, I did just that a few years ago whilst living in St Albans. My former prep school was at Harpenden, a short drive away. I decided to check it out all those years later… only to discover that the school was no longer there. The magnificent period house with its driveway, sweeping lawns and playing fields where I had captained many a game of cricket and rugger had been bulldozed off the map by a tidal wave of new housing development. Fortunately, my father had filmed sports days and presentations on a cine camera, capturing abiding memories to cherish.
Wind forward, and my wife and I, along with my sister Michelle and brother-in-law Graham, have just spent a pleasant long weekend in a luxury apartment on London’s Bankside, owned by The Hideaways Club. It is years since I was last in this part of London, when I worked as a staffer at the Daily Express at Ludgate House, on the south side of Blackfriars Bridge, several hundred yards from the apartment. And, my word, how this district has changed, almost beyond recognition. The Express has since moved on, and the area behind Ludgate House has witnessed massive re-development since my time here, including luxury apartment blocks and a current ongoing extension to the Tate Modern, directly across from our weekend retreat at 50 Holland Street.
The southward facing apartment is situated on the 5th floor, and is in a superb location, being a minute’s walk from the Thames and an easy riverside stroll to such attractions as the Millennium Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Borough Market and Southwark Cathedral.
Upon arrival, we were met by a personal concierge, who provided a tour of the property. A complimentary light grocery shop had been arranged, which included milk, tea, coffee and sugar. It is possible to arrange a larger shop, paid for on arrival. Within minutes of the apartment we noted a Co-operative, Sainsbury’s Local and Tesco Express.
The apartment comprises three exquisitely styled bedrooms, including a master with super king-size double bed, bathroom with walk-in shower and bath, and built-in wardrobe with sliding doors and interior lighting. A hairdryer and bathrobes are provided in each bedroom, along with luxury toiletries, Egyptian cotton linen and luxury towels.
The large, airy lounge area incorporates a fully equipped kitchen complete with fridge freezer and dishwasher along one wall. There are two large sofas and an easy chair, centre table, large flatscreen television, internet and WiFi availability, use of an iPad2 and synchronised printer, iPod docking station and sound system, plus a small selection of books. Neat touches, indeed.
The room also served as a dining area complete with rectagonal table with seating for eight. At the far end of the lounge, with sweeping southerly views, is a triangular-shaped reading area accessible via concertina-ed glass doors, with a comfortable armchair, side table and modern standard lamp.
We were spoilt for choice when it came to eating, with neighbourhood breakfast spots, family-friendly restaurants and fine dining establishments on the doorstep, including Carluccios on the ground floor of the building, where we dined on the second evening.
Having settled in on the Friday, we had reserved tickets for the latest production of Cats at the Palladium. We took the Underground to Oxford Circus. The sidewalks, shops and eateries were bulging at the seams, and we eventually managed to grab a table at Garfunkles, right next to the theatre. The food was excellent, the show superb.
Saturday was set aside for sightseeing, and with a bitterly cold wind blowing along the Thames, it was a day of battening down the clothing hatches as we made our way along the riverside promenade to Borough Market, where we enjoyed a stroll around the stalls before grabbing a coffee and then making our way back to Bankside Pier, where we caught a river bus to North Greenwich. The intention was to take a ride on the cable car operated at Emirates Greenwich Peninsula.
Unfortunately, the cable car was not running due to high winds, a fact which had not been posted on the website. Never mind, we saw the crowds pouring into the O2 Arena for the tennis tournament, before catching the Jubilee Line to Westminster where, somewhat predictably, we walked into yet more hordes of tourists outside the Houses of Parliament.
We strolled down Parliament Street, passing the gated and heavily policed Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence, where our father once worked, and on through to Horseguards Parade, where the Trooping the Colour is staged annually.
With the temperature dropping, we decided to head back to Blackfriars and the apartment.
At almost twice the height of any other viewing platform in London, from the 68th, 69th and 72nd floors, the magnificent building offers unprecedented 360-degree views for up to 40 miles.
We all later met up for a brief snack at the apartment before heading back out to the river and enjoying a walk across the Millennium Bridge. We circuited St Paul’s before strolling along my old stomping ground of Fleet Street.
Back on the Underground, we hopped out at Marble Arch as we were keen to visit the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park, which was in full swing. If you fancy going, the spectacular Christmas funfair is open every day from 10am to 10pm until 3rd January (except Christmas Day).
Monday morning, and all too soon it was homeward bound after a most pleasant stay. Oh yes, did I begin by saying that one should never go back? Well, on this occasion I am happy to stand corrected.
The Hideaways Club is an exclusive property investment club. Through collective ownership of exclusive holiday residences, The Hideaways Club combines luxury property investment with a luxury lifestyle. The Hideaways Club offers two funds: the Classic Collection or City Collection. Investors in either of the funds become members of an exclusive lifestyle and destination club, enabling them to holiday in properties owned by the fund.
The Classic Collection owns 43 luxury properties around the world, ranging from Tuscan farmhouses deep in the olive groves to tropical island villas. A further 200 homes are available by reciprocal arrangement with other holiday destinations. Entry level Lifestyle Associate membership of the Classic Collection starts at just £88,000, which is far less than the cost of purchasing a home abroad.
The most recent acquisition for the Classic Collection is a villa in Elounda in Crete. The City Collection owns 13 properties in some of the world’s most vibrant and iconic cities, with a further 20 available by reciprocal arrangement. Entry level price for an Associate membership starts at £69,500.
The Hideaways Club properties are all worth an average of over £1.2 million and the club aims to own a total of 100 homes in the Classic Collection and 100 in the City Collection. Members’ views are sought when deciding on where to buy next.
Visit www.thehideawaysclub.com for more information
- All images © Essential Journeys/Michael Cowton unless otherwise stated