22 Nov 2015

Melbourne’s richest property buyers are spending millions on a trendy new address: home sweet hotel. The upper end of the market can now choose between a Brighton bolthole, a Toorak mansion, or a swish suite attached to an upmarket hotel.

The Lyall Hotel in South Yarra – a long-established boutique hotel – is following the lead of The Plaza in New York and London’s One Hyde Park by adding large-scale residential apartments, next to its existing guest suites.

It’s a life of luxury and convenience: pop down to the day spa then order up a bottle of Veuve and oysters, all charged to your account, any day of the week.

Soil is yet to turn on the Lyall project, but five of the nine apartments have sold off the plan.

The penthouse was snapped up for about $8 million by an anonymous buyer.

Kay & Burton agent Gerald Delaney says there is an appetite for on-demand luxury amenity at the top of the market. He says many of the buyers have been downsizers who regularly travel and want the convenience and security of a hotel in a more permanent setting.

“To be able to turn facilities on and off is something that really does appeal to them,” Mr Delaney says. “I can see this being a growing trend into the future in Melbourne.”

The clutch of apartments will sit next door to the Lyall hotel suites just off Toorak Road, allowing the elite few who call the residences home to have a private lobby and entrance.

The hotel residential model has already been proven overseas: A-listers and the super-wealthy are happy to splash their cash on prime real estate with access to bellboys, guaranteed dinner reservations at a hatted restaurant or 24-hour room service.

“That’s where we got the idea from,” says Lyall owner Peter Thomas, who travelled to One Hyde Park – pop star Kylie Minogue’s address – to research the trend.

“They are not cheap to buy but they will be more expensive in a few years time, because there’s no others.”

It’s not just Melbourne’s elite who want to call a hotel home.

The trend is spreading across the city and being interpreted for various budgets.

Construction has already begun on mixed residential and hotel towers, such as Shadow Play in Southbank, and hotel-inspired suburban developments for those who can’t afford a multi-million dollar price tag.

Mark Dawson, associate director of development consultancy Urbis, says the hotel influence has trickled down from the luxury market into the strata below.

“When you look at the marketing collateral itself of these new developments, it appeals to an aspirational audience,” Mr Dawson says. “You’re selling that fast-paced, convenient lifestyle, with access to luxury retail, entertainment and leisure at your doorstep.”

He says the residential hotel offering also appeals to an international market, with Melbourne boasting strong occupancy rates for hotels and a clear demand from foreign buyers: “If Melbourne is a great destination to visit, it’s also a great place to stick around.”

Alicia Lynch, associate interior designer at ROTHELOWMAN, has designed several multi-residential developments inspired by hotels, including the Sanctuary on the River, in Abbotsford.

Ms Lynch says as space becomes its own luxury in apartments, there is a demand for hotel-inspired efficiency and style. Storage solutions, mirrors and night lights are all design cues taken from luxury apartments.

She also says communal areas, such as “living lobbies” with bars or work spaces are becoming increasingly popular, as the need to meet your neighbours becomes more important to Australians living in apartment buildings. ​

“We’ve had a huge year for international influence in Australian development,” she says. “I think within the multi-residential development, particularly those where urban density is much higher, we are going to see this trend stay for a while.”

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