The spiralling housing costs in global cities across the Western world has been well-documented, with rents in major urban areas such as New York, Paris, San Francisco, and London rising at an unprecedented rate.
While the average Joe might be forking out more of their paycheck than ever on housing costs, the ultra-rich seem to have the opposite problem, in that there simply isn’t enough housing for them to spend all their money on. One city where this is particularly pronounced is the British capital, London, where the uber-wealthy have sought to expand their mansions by building not upwards or outwards, but downwards.
Planning permission figures have revealed that there are now close to 5000 so-called “mega-basements” in London, mostly concentrated in the well-heeled enclaves of Kensington, Chelsea, Knightsbridge, Westminster, and Notting Hill. Let’s take a look at the reason behind this unique housing phenomenon and see what you can actually find in these subterranean super homes.
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Mega Basements Explained
As luxury building companies such as Cavendish Basements, which specialise in these kinds of extensions, have explained, the phenomenon is one that could only really happen in London. The city has one of the most competitive luxury home market in the world, driven by a high concentration of millionaires and billionaires.
However, the city also has very strict planning limits placed on the kinds of historic mansions that the wealthy tend to buy. Homeowners typically aren’t allowed to build up, and getting permission to build a private home in central London is almost impossible.
The result is to dig deep, which is why thousands of wealthy households have chosen to build as many as ten stories below ground, giving them all the living space of Buckingham Palace without any visible difference to the outside of the property.
What You Can Find
London’s mega-basements are much more than humble kitchen extensions. Of the ones currently in existence, there are hundreds of indoor swimming pools, dozens of fully-equipped spas, hundreds of private cinemas and even several fully-equipped private casinos.
While the 1% are getting in on the casino craze by building a mini-Caesar’s Palace below their living room, the rest of us are joining in via more humble routes. The fact that there are now smartphone apps which features hundreds of slot reels, poker games, roulette tables, and blackjack such as the luxury-themed Mr Green app shows that the hunger for high-end casino gaming experiences from home isn’t just limited to the ultra-rich. A home belonging to one anonymous billionaire has even been reported to have a live-in blackjack dealer who is there 100% of the time, waiting to deal the cards.
On top of this, one basement home in Marylebone is known to have a life-sized Turkish bathhouse, complete with a private shisha lounge. Naturally, an underground mansion wouldn’t be complete without the means to survive the apocalypse, which is why many wealthy Londoners have fitted theirs out with safe rooms and enough canned food to last several lifetimes. Oh, how the other half lives.
These next-level abodes are bound to divide opinion. Some will think they’re simply awesome, while others will see them as a symptom of an out-of-control housing market. Whatever you think, you can probably agree that you wouldn’t mind an underground swimming pool to call your own.