Inside The Knightsbridge Estate

Words by
Zoe Dare Hall

15th June 2023

Step inside The Knightsbridge Estate which is breathing new life into this historic area, with elevated levels of luxury and sustainability.

Presented by The Knightsbridge Estate

Shoppers in Knightsbridge can’t fail to have noticed the palatial new emporium to all things Apple on Brompton Road, next to the new Tube entrance. The towering ficus trees in the seven-metre-high windows hint at this being Apple’s most sustainable store, powered entirely by renewable energy.

Nor can you miss the huge flagship Burberry store, whose prime corner spot on Brompton Road and Sloane Street draws in the big spenders. The fashion brand moved from its former premises over the road to the modern 16,000 sq ft showroom last year.

Inside The Knightsbridge Estate
Burberry's flagship store has prime corner spot on Brompton Road and Sloane Street

Playful Spanish womenswear brand Bimba y Lola may also catch your eye, having opened here in April 2023. Ugg is an imminent arrival. Watches of Switzerland has upsized from a smaller shop nearby. There’s also the first London outlet of the cult LA sunglasses brand Dita, watch collectors’ heaven at Patek Philippe and Rolex, and a large Zara.

What you may not realise is how much is going on behind the window dressing. The red-bricked run of buildings that sits neatly between Harrods and Harvey Nichols forms The Knightsbridge Estate — a 3.5-acre site owned by The Olayan Group, whose mission is to “invest in unloved real estate assets in prime locations with amazing potential.”

Knightsbridge may be the apogee of super-prime London property to many buyers, particularly from overseas, but to The Olayan Group it was due for a revamp. “As a globally renowned destination, Knightsbridge has always been home to a close-knit community of businesses.

Inside The Knightsbridge Estate
Street corner of Knightsbridge and Sloane Street

"We saw an opportunity to reposition a tired and unloved asset into one that delivered the highest standard of accommodation, to attract a mix of world-class brands to the tenant portfolio,” says Jonathan Shelton, Managing Director and Head of Real Estate for Europe at The Olayan Group, whose other investments include the Mandarin Oriental Ritz Hotel, Madrid, New York’s 550 Madison and some of the most desirable retail outlets on Paris’s Avenue Montaigne.

Since gaining planning permission in 2016, The Olayan Group has been working hard to secure “the right brands delivering the right experiences for Knightsbridge shoppers,” says Shelton. “This used to be a sub-optimal assortment of very shallow and irregular retail units that were not right for the area. We could see that the asset was not living up to its potential, and so we took stock and worked out what we wanted.”

Inside The Knightsbridge Estate
Apple's sustainable new store on Brompton Road

Alongside retail, the right tenant mix means homes and workspace too. The Estate includes 33 new luxury rental apartments and a new modern office building. A focus on sustainability underpins it all, and The Estate’s eco-credentials include reducing CO2 emissions by 35% more than current building regulations require, providing BREEAM Excellent-level office space, and sending no waste to landfill.

The oxblood-red tiles of One Hooper’s Court were sourced by the award-winning practice behind the scheme — Fletcher Priest Architects — to pay homage to local luminary Leslie Green, who used these when designing the original Knightsbridge station in the early 1900s. The development houses 70,000 sq ft of high-end office space that, with its floor-to-ceiling windows and huge open floor plans, attracts hedge funds and private wealth firms as tenants.

Inside The Knightsbridge Estate
One Hooper's Court, Knightsbridge

The Olayan Group’s mission with The Knightsbridge Estate is long term, Shelton says, and where the previous owners did not invest in its fabric, its new owners have gone further and also invested in the local area by widening pavements, improving street lighting and founding The Knightsbridge Partnership, to support the wider community. “We’ll continue to do so. It never reaches a point where you’re done,” he says.

Sloane Street’s £46 million uplift by landowner Cadogan Estates has a hugely beneficial knock-on effect. Due for completion in late 2024, Sloane Street’s overhaul will see a green boulevard running from Knightsbridge to Sloane Square, plus new street furniture, planting and security.

Inside The Knightsbridge Estate
Eggs Royale at EL&N

Another key aspect that guarantees better dwell time in a destination is an array of cool new cafes and restaurants. One Hooper’s Court will feature a high-profile restaurant on its rooftop. Hans Crescent, next to Harrods, also brings some colourful additions to the mix, including Carpo, a Greek-run store and café specialising in delicious nuts and custom-blended coffee, and EL&N, one of the capital’s most Instagrammable cafes with its signature Blue Sapphire latte.

Behind historic facades that have changed little in more than a century, it’s all change on The Knightsbridge Estate. The area has built a reputation for attention-grabbing window displays, but there’s much more to this leading destination than meets the eye.

The Knightsbridge Estate