When it comes to luxury real estate, admit it, you like to watch
Four superlative wonders in today’s real estate market
1. Most Diverse Neighborhood
The phrase “no permanent address” isn’t always as abject as it sounds. For the last decade or so, anyone with the requisite wanderlust and copious bank balance has been able to list their primary residence as The World.
A ”private residential ship” with 165 onboard apartments reportedly ranging from $800,000 to $10 million and up, The World represents the largest floating residential city block on the planet. Along with its range of residences—from plush studios to plusher three-bedrooms—the ship has all of the amenities you’d expect of a high-end cruise liner: pool, putting green, fancy restaurants, spa, tennis court.
The real attraction, however, is the view. This year’s changing panoramas have included various parts of South America, Europe and Northern Africa. Next year’s itinerary includes a sweep of the Far East.
And there are several other developers looking to occupy this territory. The Utopia, a $1 billion liner said to be a few years away from completion, is slated to have 190 private residences, along with a casino, art gallery, theater and onboard personal shopper. It’ll cost you about $30 million to buy a top-of-the-line unit there, but on the plus side, you’ll never have to pack another suitcase.
2. Swankiest Mobile Home
Traditionally, we don’t tend to associate mobile homes with glamour, any more than we do bingo halls or parking lots. The whole idea behind these things—or so the thinking goes—is to provide a recreational outlet for those who don’t have the wherewithal to hop on a plane.
An Austrian outfit called Marchi Mobile has turned this old stereotype on its head with its Elemment Palazzo—a two-story, 40-foot RV that looks like something a 23rd-century Russian oligarch might tool around in, and which boasts such amenities as a retractable cocktail bar, a rooftop terrace and a rainfall shower.
Prices for this futuristic “Palace on Wheels” start at $2.4 million but can go as high as $3 million or more with extras (“We could do parts in real gold, or at least plated,” says a Marchi rep). The vehicle seems especially geared toward men who are at ease with the term “playboy”—the bed has a Hefnerian majesty to it, and the all-white cocktail lounge is the ideal place to lift a jaunty eyebrow while pouring premium vodka.
There is, however, one potential hiccup: five-star trailer parks remain in extremely short supply, so you could very well end up sipping Dom Perignon with a neighbor who would prefer Bud Light.
3. Loftiest living room
For those who like a bit of Freud with their architecture, Dubai’s Princess Tower doesn’t disappoint. This sleek, domed cloud-buster stands at 1,356 feet—300 feet taller than the Eiffel Tower—and has 101 above-ground stories, making it the world’s tallest residential building.
What this rarefied stature means, for those occupying the top floors, is the opportunity to look down on your neighbors, which is something of a preoccupation in Dubai. And when you get bored of that, you can look down on the Persian Gulf, the Palm Jumeirah man-made islands and the drivers trying to maim each other on Sheikh Zayed Road, a drama played out in miniature a quarter of a mile below your feet.
But there are downsides to living in the world’s tallest apartment block. This summer, a leak—or “unfortunate water-based incident”—caused the Princess Tower’s elevators to break down, and to stay broken down for days on end, causing one upper-level resident to wheeze, “They need to get this fixed, pronto.”
4. Least Cave-Like Man Cave
If you were asked to recall the most fun you’ve had in a two-car garage, chances are you’d scratch your head a bit. Garages are, by their very nature, drab, utilitarian things, with stains on the floor, the tang of fossil fuels in the air and, inevitably, a weed whacker gathering dust in the corner.
But what if that two-car garage was, say, an 18-car reception hall, with exposed beams, a granite-topped bar and a home theater? Businessman Tim Wellborn, of Alexander City, Ala., is the owner of such a space. It cost him more than a million bucks to build—“more than our house,” he told the Wall Street Journal earlier this year—and also comes equipped with a bunch of very nice automobiles.
Wellborn’s auto-mansion is by no means the poshest garage out there. It has become a trend, apparently, to create parking spaces in which the space takes precedence over the parking. There are garages with wine cellars, state-of-the-art sound systems, car-themed murals, wood-paneled dens, pool tables and Palladian windows. One U.S. company, Garage Mahals, offers a Men in Black–themed space, along with a “Retro Industrial Garage”—which, if you disregard the mortgage-requiring price tag, isn’t so different from the humble, weed whacker–bedecked spaces of old.