UK next spot for evolving luxury lifestyle practices –

Luxury residential has been borrowing ideas from the hotel and hospitality sectors for some time now.

Contributed by Shreen Gupta, GRID Properties, part of Gulf Islamic Investments, London

In London and the wider U.K., this hasn’t really reached further than 24/7 concierge services, welcome teams, personal assistance, amenities and club-style memberships.

Known as residential hospitality management, or ResHosp to a more mature market in North America, this takes a transient approach — people serving other people during a meal, overnight stay or event — to a more permanent fixture in the home.

In the rental sector – such as multifamily or in the U.K. build to rent (BTR) – it has been credited with keeping tenants ‘sticky,’ a crucial factor for income and the BTR model itself.

This aspect has fast become a demand in luxury-purchased homes, too, and has been credited with the rising appeal of apartments and condominiums. People get to live in their luxury homes, but with the privilege of having their every wish catered to, mainly by an in-house staff and management team appointed by the building’s developer or owner.

Such luxury services help to foster a strong customer experience and support the establishment of communities in branded residences. With developers searching for new ways to keep up with today’s discerning buyers, there is an argument not just for ‘hotel-style’ living, but for ‘hotel-managed’ living – where hotel brands actively manage luxury residences.

In July, Marriott International signed an agreement with Gulf Islamic Investments to introduce The Lucan, Autograph Collection Residences in London, the first standalone Autograph Collection Residences globally. The project is set to include 31 homes in a historic redeveloped property located within the Chelsea and is expected to welcome its first residents in 2024.

This is not a new concept internationally – North America, the Middle East and Asia have all experienced residences operated by hotels – but it is not quite as widespread as one would have thought in this consumer-driven world. Perhaps the pandemic and the experience of lockdown will accelerate the trend for ‘on-tap services’ to the home more than ever.

The U.K. is fairly new to this concept, but we expect it to accelerate very quickly, paralleling the rise of BTR across the country in the past three years. London would seem the ideal place for this trend to gather momentum: it symbolizes a globally-recognized destination frequented by business travelers who, bored of having to book the same hotel rooms in the city with check-in and out times and non-personalized decor no matter how luxurious their surroundings, yearn to feel at home amongst their own tastes, designed for the drop-in and out peripatetic lifestyle, but without compromising on the luxury of 24-hour amenities or services.

It is also a badge of honor for many to own a piece of iconic London real estate, on the doorstep of all the capital has to offer. The ability to entertain clients or guests in elegance – in one’s space and style – but with hospitality easily arranged by a friendly face at reception, and having every whim, desire or need available at the touch of a button.

Of course, this sector is not solely reserved for high net worth individuals or elite business travelers. Having a pied á terre in the city can also be a luxury for the downsizer or smart young professionals living in the U.K., but not wishing to be in London full-time; they can drop into their London pad regularly to catch a show, for a weekend’s shopping or entertaining. Ditto the work-hard, time-poor singleton or couple who want to get home after long hours to their creature comforts, and to relax as the butler-style service takes over the delivery of their elements.

This fashionable lifestyle represents a natural evolution from hotel-style services to hotel-managed services. Investing in a new home in which services are provided by a global hotel brand renowned for its luxury, ‘guest comes first’ approach, is a value-added proposition.

This is what The Lucan, Autograph Collection Residences, will provide. It is a collaboration and a first of its kind in the U.K., where Marriott International will manage the residences for the owner and will add its own unique design and club benefits to the mix. Marriott has some time to develop its own brand of superior customer service, recognized internationally, that will evolve and integrate seamlessly into a home. The U.K. is more than ready for this. We will report back.

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