Once an area reserved for shabby bedsits to house backpackers, budget-conscious tourists and out-of-work actors, Bayswater in West London is smartening up.
Despite its grand Victorian stucco terraces – many of which were converted into tiny bedsits and hotels in the 20th century – the neighbourhood, less than a mile from the well-heeled southern suburbs of Knightsbridge, Kensington and Belgravia, was traditionally sneered at as being “on the wrong side” of Hyde Park.
But as astronomic rises in London house prices force rich buyers to look farther afield from the so-called golden postcodes, property developers are attempting to cash in by converting cheap hotels into luxury homes, sending prices in the area rocketing.
One example is the The Hempel Collection, 34 homes developed by Amazon Property and British Land on the sites of two former period hotels.
The buildings, which overlook the very garden square that was used for the wedding scene at the end of the movie Notting Hill, retain original white stucco facades, and the properties include solid oak flooring, antique ironmongery and Calacatta marble worktops.
A first phase of 12 apartments and three town houses, starting from £2.3 million (Dh13.1m) for a two-bedroom apartment and from £3.2m for a three-bedroom town house, is due to be completed this spring. A second phase of 18 more apartments in a separate building is due to finish in early 2016.
And The Hempel is far from alone. After Northacre converted a former Thistle hotel into The Lancasters, 77 plush flats overlooking the north end of Hyde Park in 2011 that sold for about £3,800 per square foot, other property developers have flocked to the area hoping to follow suit.
According to property brokers, there are now 137 new homes under construction in the area in 13 new developments.
Knight Frank reports that although house prices in W2 grew by 27 per cent less than other postcodes adjoining Hyde Park in the decade to last June, they have outperformed the prime central London average over the last two years.
Lucy Barnard reveals more about Bayswater – one of London’s newest property hot spots:
Why did Bayswater become such a run-down neighbourhood?
The area lies next to Paddington railway station, which was first opened in 1838. Property developers at the time built grand terraces of town houses that they hoped would attract the new powerful management classes. However, the dirt and smoke emitted from Paddington put off many buyers. Later, during the 1950s, the notorious landlord Peter Rachman converted scores of what had been genteel rent-controlled houses into tiny bedsits to extract more money.
Why are prices going up now?
Aside from London house prices increasing across the board, pushing rich buyers into once-overlooked neighbourhoods, Bayswater will also benefit from new trains running through Paddington from 2018. This will cut journey times to Liverpool Street to 10 minutes, Canary Wharf to 17 minutes and Heathrow to 23 minutes.
How much will these new homes cost?
Prices for the most luxurious ones are likely to range between £2,000 (Dh11,408) and £2,500 per square foot, and in some cases may exceed £3,000.
What about the rest of the local area?
Bayswater’s facelift is part of a broader regeneration of what is known as The Paddington Basin. There are plans to turn 75 per cent of Bayswater’s scruffy shopping thoroughfare into the “Covent Garden of the West”.
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