What is a Luxury Apartment?

It wasn't too long ago that most, if not all, of the most sought-after luxury apartments in many cities were available only on the condo and co-op market. Rental apartments were seen almost as either as a "starter home", a stepping stone to buying a place for people who wanted to stay in the city, or as a temporary housing solution to those who moved out, to the suburbs and elsewhere. Sure, there were some beautiful old rental buildings in certain neighborhoods. And while many of them were well-maintained, they certainly were not filled with many luxury amenities. At least by today's standards. While many of them were luxurious by the standards of the time in which they were built, they for the most part had failed to keep up with changes in the luxury market. For a number of years, new construction of luxury apartment buildings went to the condo market, and any extensive renovations of a rental building were undertaken only to convert the apartment into a co-op. In the past couple of decades, however, that's all changed, as developers, recognizing that even some of the wealthiest citizens were looking for rentals, constructed gleaming, soaring tower after gleaming, soaring tower filled with luxury apartments. And if the rents in this new breed of luxury apartments seems high, the services and amenities offered therein make the price tag well worth for a certain type of tenant. These days, luxury apartments come in both sales and rentals, and range from "starter" luxury units, to very exclusive luxury units, with prices to match.

Luxury Apartments Minus the High-Rise

While it's true that most new luxury apartments are found in high-rise buildings, that is not always the case. Often smaller buildings (especially in certain cities, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles) have beautifully appointed apartments. Some even exist in walk-ups. However, these smaller buildings often lack the services and amenities available in larger buildings. For example, these smaller buildings (say, under 50 units) may or may not have a doorman, and most certainly don't have a concierge and valet. You have a good chance of getting a small fitness center, and laundry facilities. Newer buildings often have a roof deck. But don't expect the full range of amenities and services mentioned below. If you want a beautiful apartment, without lots of neighbors, and you can live without having every amenity in the building, then a smaller luxury building might be just for you. An exception to the above would be the luxury garden apartment complex. While the buildings are often low-rise (under 5-6 stories), they are spread out in a large complex, with hundreds of units. Another version of this has a series of condo townhomes, all part of a single complex. Often these complexes will have a larger set of amenities, often in their own separate building. The "club house" may contain amenities such as a gym, tenant's lounge, party room with kitchen and wet bar, billiards room and more. In addition, there may be an indoor or outdoor pool, basketball court, tennis courts, and more.

Services and Amenities in Luxury Buildings

Building amenities can turn an ordinary apartment into your dream home, so it's a good idea to think about what you need, what you desire, and what you can live without. For example: laundry facilities. Some luxury apartment apartments come with a washer and dryer in each unit, and others have a small laundry room on each floor. A more common apartment amenity in this category is the communal laundry room, available for all the building's residents, usually located in the basement. Laundry in your unit has become a more prominent amenity over the last several years. Older building will tend to have shared laundry facilities, whereas newer buildings are more likely to have laundry in each unit. Of course, for people who would prefer to pay someone else to wash their clothes, having a laundromat right nearby that does laundry by the pound—and a full-time doorman and concierge staff to handle pick-up and delivery--is an even better apartment amenity. In the most luxurious buildings, the staff will actually pick up and deliver your laundry to your apartment while you're out, eliminating the need to carry it back with you to your apartment. Amenities that have become common in contemporary, luxury residential buildings include residents-only gyms, pools and fitness centers; on-site valet and concierge services; 24-hour attended parking garages; access to rental cars, shuttle buses to business districts and transportation, barbecue grills, street-level bicycle rooms, roof decks, party rooms and lounges, children's playrooms, media/cinema rooms and business centers. Of course, some buildings like to do things differently, and come up with fairly unique amenities. We even know of one building with its own rock climbing wall. Certain more exclusive buildings may also include a library, a tenant's wine cellar, on-site yoga and fitness classes, and spas. Services can vary, from a simple doorman, to a full-blown concierge (similar to a hotel concierge), package delivery storage, cold-storage rooms for grocery delivery, as well as housekeeping, pet sitting and meal services.

Finishing Touches: The Ultimate in Comfort

Finishes in luxury homes include gourmet kitchens fully loaded with all appliances, including a high-end dishwasher, microwave, and, sometimes, even built-in espresso makers and wine refrigerators. Appliance manufacturers such as Sub-Zero, Miele and others are frequently found. Rather than a standard two-door refrigerator, you may find a larger side by side refrigerator with ice maker, or a French door with bottom-drawer freezer model. Drawer dishwashers are also becoming popular in high-end units. Granite and marble countertops, the previous standard for luxury, are now being replaced with quartz. Bathrooms may feature spa-like features such as high-pressure showers, rain showerheads, jacuzzi bathtubs, towel warmers, fixtures by manufacturers like Grohe and Kohler, and more. Other luxury finishes may include bamboo flooring, oversized soundproofed windows, individual terraces or balconies, custom window treatments; the list goes on and on.
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