Because you know you want to wake up in a city that never sleeps... or the city of love... or the city on stilts in a lagoon.
Buying a bolthole in your favourite city is an excellent idea. Not only are city pads a breeze to run compared to their bucolic counterparts, but they’re much cheaper; you could start with two for the price of a farmhouse with a pool in prime Tuscany and slowly build up a portfolio. ‘It’s the ultimate indulgence, but you’re also spreading risk over multiple currencies,’ explains Alasdair Pritchard of Knight Frank.
Here are the 10 best cities in the world to call home:
Best for… buzz
It is impossible not to get swept up in the vibrancy of the Big Apple—it has the best of everything and ‘an energy that can’t be imitated,’ says Anne Prosser of Halstead Property. Traditionally, the most prestigious addresses were on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where a one-bedroom flat costs from about $400,000 (£325,000).
Now, however, the West Village is the place to be, with designer boutiques and enormous brownstones. ‘Movie stars are your neighbours and new restaurants open all the time,’ says Miss Prosser. Here, Richard Meier’s $29.95 million (£24.35 million) glass-sided duplex penthouse on Charles Street, overlooking the Hudson, has a gym, sauna, infinity pool, cinema and wine store (00 212 381 3348; www.halstead.com)
Best for… investment
The start-up capital of Europe is so on trend, it has a Soho House branch. There’s a thriving art and music scene and, according to a recent report, it’s the savviest European capital to spend money in.
‘Property here is still undervalued compared to London or Paris,’ says Peter Rabitz of Zabel Property. Mitte, the political and cultural heart of the city, is the place to live, with gentrified Communist apartment blocks from the Third Reich.
Here, a one-bedroom flat in High Park, a new development with concierge, is on the market for €575,700; the last remaining penthouse costs €1.295 million (00 49 30 886 6000; www.zabel.com). Charlottenburg, the centre of old West Berlin, is popular, along with Grunewald, a German Hampstead
Best for… music
If music is your thing, where better than Vienna, home to Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms and the birthplace of the waltz? The soft strains of outdoor ensembles waft through manicured parks and there are regular recitals in the Wiener Konzerthaus, Theater an der Wien and Wiener Musikverein.
The city also has a highly sophisticated coffee-house culture— try the revered Griensteidl or Hawelka. When you factor in the extensive cycle network and fantastic shopping, it’s no wonder Vienna regularly gets top marks for quality of life. UNESCO-listed Innere Stadt, near the 12th-century cathedral and the Hofburg, is the best address.
Here, architect-designed apartments near the Staatsoper and palace gardens, with large, light rooms and an enormous roof terrace, cost from €1.13 million (Knight Frank, 020– 7861 1109). The streets of Leopoldstadt, across the Danube, are more affordable, with coffee shops, organic supermarkets and the Prater, a royal hunting ground three times the size of London’s Hyde Park
Best for… art
Quelle glorieuse! In Paris, you can wander from one jaw-dropping art collection to the next, taking in magnificent Haussmann boulevards and cafes spilling onto the street. There’s the fabulous Musée D’Orsay in a Beaux-Arts railway station on the Left Bank, the Louvre for Old Masters and the Jeu de Paume for postmodern photography as well as the—deep breath—Musée Rodin, Musée Picasso and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in the Pompidou.
‘You can leave your office in London on a Friday afternoon and be immersed in all this a couple of hours later,’ Jelena Cvjetkovic of Savills enthuses. A split-level apartment in Place Saint Sulpice in the 6th arrondissement, within the Jardin de Luxembourg, is ideally situated. It has a homely feel, with exposed beams and French windows plus a third bedroom in the attic (€1.65 million, Savills, 020–7016 3740)
Best for… the next generation
Every British teenager wants access to a London pad from which to enjoy the cosmopolitan shops. Happily, from a parent’s perspective, a pied-à-terre in town is a sensible investment. ‘With market data readily available, you can feel confident,’ explains Alasdair Pritchard of Knight Frank.
Any area that features on reality TV series Made in Chelsea is a good bet. This doesn’t just mean the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea—members of cast have been seen hanging out in (gasp) Fulham, Battersea and Kensal Rise. This two-bedroom flat in Cheval Place, Knightsbridge, inches from Harrods, has a south-facing roof terrace for summer parties and a separate home office (£3.45 million, Knight Frank, 020–3811 2817)
Best for… golf
The Portuguese capital is a golfing haven in the throes of gentrification, largely low-rise with wide boulevards buzzing with shops, cafes, galleries and museums. The restaurant scene is flourishing, too.
‘There are great surfing beaches on the Atlantic coast and a restored historic centre,’ says Gilberto Jordan of Andre Jordan Group.
Lisbon is more affordable than other capitals. A three-bedroom town house with pool in the Belas Clube de Campo, a new golf community surrounded by forest, 15 minutes from the centre, airport and beaches, is on the market for €900,000 (00 351 219 626 616; www.realestate.belasclubedecampo.pt)
Best for… architecture
Bold, brash, and beautiful: Barcelona has it all. On a 10-minute stroll, you can take in Gaudí mansions, colonial palaces, Modernisme manor houses, German new wave and Catalan Gothic. When you tire of sightseeing, lunch at the harbour or flop on the beach.
‘It’s a very outdoorsy city with watersports and a vibrant equestrian community,’ explains Alexander Vaughan of Lucas Fox. The gentrified harbour is fashionable for property investors, along with the bustling barrios of Poble-Sec and Poblenou.
The most prestigious addresses, however, are in Dreta de l’Eixample, the old Catalan centre, where a Modernisme loft apartment in the former Burés textile company is on the market for €2.95 million. There are two bedrooms and a generous terrace plus communal pool, gym and wine cellar (00 34 933 562 989; www.lucasfox.com)
Best for… beaches
A year-round playground of flamboyant Art Deco buildings, excellent restaurants and pristine beach, the so-called Magic City is currently enjoying a cultural renaissance, with thriving galleries—the Pérez Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Frost, the Bass, the Lowe—and a booming design district plus a vibrant local food scene. Miami’s beach houses are some of the finest in the world, from Belle Epoque villas to state-of-the-art towers such as Zaha Hadid’s One Thousand Museum, with 83 ocean-view apartments.
The jewel in the crown is the penthouse at L’Atelier, a new tower by interior designer Holly Hunt on the grounds of the former Golden Sands Hotel (one of the last remaining oceanfront sites in Miami Beach), with a 40ft infinity pool, a glass elevator, 360º views and six bedrooms ($25 million, Sotheby’s International Realty, 00 1 305 538 9711; www.sothebysrealty.com)
Best for… restaurants
As well as balmy weather and endless white beaches, Sydney has a reputation for exceptional wine and service. Its chefs are pioneering and unrelenting about the origin of fruit, vegetables, lobsters and oysters. Iconic gastronomic experiences include Quay on Sydney Harbour and Icebergs Dining Room and Bar on the cliffs of Bondi.
There’s also a dynamic golf, sailing and polo scene and a lively cultural calendar. Point Piper, a 40-minute stroll from town, is the most exclusive neighbourhood; North Shore, across the harbour, is popular due to its pubs and high-end shops.
A fully furnished ‘turn-key’ four-bedroom home overlooking Balmoral beach is on the market for AUS$25 million (£15.44 million), complete with an Andy Warhol (H. Barnes & Co, 020–7499 3434; http://hbarnes.london)
Best for… romance
There is really no high or low season in Venice—it’s buzzing throughout the year,’ says Miss Cvjetkovic. There’s the carnival in February, the Biennale in June, opera in July and film festival in September. Float by gondola, savour cocktails at Harry’s Bar, admire Canalettos in the Accademia or roam the maze of tiny streets. San Marco and Santa Croce are the most sought-after areas.
In the former, a three-bedroom pied-à-terre in a 15th-century palazzetto on the Grand Canal is on the market for €1.1 million (Savills, 020–7016 3740). Beware of taking on a project—everything must come by boat so renovation costs can be extortionate