Heights of Luxury: London’s multi-storey penthouses

Words by
Zoe Dare Hall

2nd May 2018

A startling selection of multi-storey penthouses in London is bringing townhouse living to a whole new level and offering a different perspective on the city

Nothing spells power in property like a multi-storey penthouse, one that can form your own sky-high townhouse. There is no better example currently on sale in London than the four-storey, £3.2m penthouse at Dollar Bay, a 31-storey tower that presides over the mouth of South Dock in Canary Wharf.

The design of the 109-metre tall tower by SimpsonHaugh architects — whose two crystalline forms taper at the top, and include semi-outdoor spaces provided by louvre windows — presented developers Mount Anvil with a challenge when it came to slotting in the penthouses. “The lift can only run to the 28th floor, which ruled out the option of building lateral penthouses on the top floors,” explains sales director Jon Hall. So, to fully utilise the height of the building, they chose to build two duplexes at the back of the building and two four-storey penthouses at its highest point.

Dollar Bay exterior
The glass clad exterior of Mount Anvil's Dollar Bay, Canary Warf

The glass clad exterior of Mount Anvil's Dollar Bay, Canary Warf

A quadruple-height sloping wall of glass runs down one side of the penthouses, providing space for winter gardens partially exposed to the elements. On the top floor, a semi-outdoor living room is clearly destined as a party space.

The first of these mirror-image penthouses sold quickly. With the second, prospective buyers can envisage life in a sky-high quadruplex thanks to rooms dressed by interior designer Daniel Hopwood. He wanted to reflect the attitude of the future owners, whom he imagines will be uncompromising high-fliers and independent thinkers. “Nearly everything is bespoke or customised,” he says, “and rather than compromise using good taste, I decided to take risks and reach for style.”

Bedroom Dollar Bay
A penthouse bedroom with interiors by Daneil Hopwood at the Dollar Bay Tower

A penthouse bedroom with interiors by Daneil Hopwood at the Dollar Bay Tower

The real talking point is a tall room dedicated to a Jacuzzi. It’s a place to luxuriate among the cushions and lanterns while drinking in the expansive views beyond the wall of glass. As a layout, this penthouse flies in the face of what many wealthy — and overseas buyers in particular — typically want, which is stair-free, lateral living. “If you look at standard London townhouses of three, four or five storeys, though, there are plenty of people who don’t have an issue with stairs, so why not bring that design to an apartment?” says Hall.

Given its location and design, one might expect its future owner to be a local financier in search of the ultimate bachelor pad. But Hall sold a four-storey London penthouse in the heart of Old Street’s tech scene to a three-generation family. “In some ways, a multi-level penthouse is ideal for a large family as it gives them separation,” he observes.

Penthouse jacuzzi
Penthouse jacuzzi

Penthouse jacuzzi

Penthouses are also all about having that sensational view. Sean Ellis, chairman of the St James Group, describes the £22m triplex penthouse at The Corniche on Albert Embankment as having “IMAX views”. It includes a 2,000sq ft private roof terrace, five reception rooms, two kitchens and a double-height atrium for a reception hall. And close to Tower Bridge is Barratt London’s Landmark Place, the only new riverside development for sale within the City of London. The two duplex penthouses, priced from £5.74m to £9.97m, have extraordinary views along the Thames.

Corniche reception room
One of the reception rooms at The Corniche penthouse on Albert Embankment

One of the reception rooms at The Corniche penthouse on Albert Embankment

Such multi-storey penthouses are a relative rarity in London, largely due to economics. “Is it viable to build one mega penthouse as opposed to, say, three smaller ones? Build too big and the price per square foot can get ridiculous,” warns Simon Tollit, director of central London estate agency Tedworth Property. People in London are also generally more “understated” says Tollit. “Buyers of big penthouses tend to be slightly younger, perhaps more tech-orientated and with newer money. Older money tends not to gravitate to so much glass and bling.”

Yet the more usual lateral penthouse that runs across the top floor can also be a showstopper. A terrace overlooking Hyde Park runs along the entire length of the 3,099sq ft penthouse at Hampshire House, on sale for £10.95m through Kay & Co. Fitzroy Place in Fitzrovia, boasts a 70ft-long reception room 
in its penthouse for sale through CBRE Residential (cbreresidential.com) for £12.75m. 

Hampshire House
Dining space in a penthouse at Hampshire House, which overlooks Hyde Park

Dining space in a penthouse at Hampshire House, which overlooks Hyde Park

Then there is Centre Point, the iconic 1960s office block revamped into luxury flats. It includes a 7,300sq ft duplex penthouse, on the 33rd and 34th floors, costing £55m through Knight Frank. The illuminated Centre Point sign even runs across its wraparound terrace. “Once it is sold, it will be virtually impossible to find anything quite like it again,” comments Ian Pidgeon, residential development partner at Knight Frank.

Reception room at Centre Point
A sculptural staircase in the reception room at Centre Point

A sculptural staircase in the reception room at Centre Point

And that perhaps is the crux of London’s multi-storey penthouses — these are limited-edition townhouses in the sky for the fortunate few that open up new ways of seeing the city.