It's that time of the year when Hyde Park can be glimpsed from all over London thanks to the Winter Wonderland and its brightly lit towering Ferris wheels.
From the vantage point of its south-west corner, businessman Nick Candy is in no doubt that he can wrap up the sale of London’s most expensive penthouse before the end of the year, but first he must overcome objections from some very important associates.
“Actually, when I take my kids to see it, as I did this weekend, they said daddy can we keep it please,” Mr Candy said. “We have a home in Chelsea but they love One Hyde Park, especially when the Christmas decorations are up. It’s quite magical.”
As overseas investors seek to profit from the weak pound, the billionaire’s two-storey, five-bedroom home at the top of the ultra-lavish apartment block One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge is on the market for £175 million ($215 million).
“We have a few [people interested] and hopefully before Christmas we will try and pin somebody down and get a deal done,” the property mogul told The National.
“There are always people who muck you around, which you would be surprised [about] at this level of the market — people who pretend they can afford something.”
But the property has attracted strong interest from around the globe, he said.
“The pool [of potential buyers] is bigger than one might think. A lot of them already have homes in central London, or in the countryside. And there have been quite a few big deals done in the last 24 months across London.”
One Hyde Park penthouse - in pictures
But he will no longer accept payment in Bitcoin, or any other cryptocurrency, because of "where the world is heading with crypto”, he said.
“Just straight cash — the old form of currency, always the best,” Mr Candy said. “Sterling has been at the lowest it has been against the dollar than it has for 40 years.
“You always have people who say the pound is going to go to parity [with the dollar]. And they were saying that when it was $1.10. Well it’s now $1.21 today.
“I always say to someone, it’s like catching a falling knife. You will never get it when it is at the very bottom, hitting the floor. You just have to try and get it as close as you can to the floor.
“If you can buy a real estate asset at a 25 per cent discount without having to ask for a discount it’s always a good place to be in."
Anyone buying the penthouse would be among good company.
In the summer it was reported the number of prime homes in the capital being sold for more than £10 million has risen to a 10-year high as super-rich buyers return to a property market boosted by the weak pound.
One Hyde Park, which achieved more than £2 billion in sales from 86 apartments, was developed in 2011 by Mr Candy’s brother Christian’s CPC group.
The lavish interiors were supplied by the Candy brothers’ Candy & Candy interior designer and development management company.
For a period it was rented out for £150,000 a week.
The penthouse, which is a five-minute walk from the famed Harrods department store, was valued at £160 million in 2020 ― a price tag that includes all the lavish fixtures and fittings.
It offers sweeping views over Hyde Park, heated underground parking spaces for four cars, a media room, two wraparound outdoor terraces, as well as access to a spa, gymnasium and the concierge services of the Mandarin Oriental hotel next door. The apartment, which is split over two levels, has a champagne room and a bar.
There is also a 21-metre swimming pool, a cinema, a private library and a golf simulator, as well as heated marble floors and bulletproof windows. The size of the apartment is equivalent to 18 average English homes.
New building regulations in Westminster mean developers cannot now build flats bigger than about 235 square metres, meaning it could not ever be replicated.
“I have 18,000 square feet in my penthouse in One Hyde Park. You wouldn’t be allowed to build that again. It’s illegal to build that from scratch today,” said Mr Candy, whose consortium failed in a bid to buy Chelsea Football Club earlier this year.
He said the city is thriving again after Covid, despite challenges, some of which are related to Brexit, such as a shortage of staff in the city’s top restaurants.
“Maybe our government should think about giving special visas for people in the hospitality industry so we can get the right level of staffing into the hospitality industry. I think all the top restaurants in London are struggling with staff and also the cost of staffing as well,” he said.
“So that’s a visible sign of Brexit.”
The city struggles with other issues, too, such as crime, but it remains a special place.
New York and Hong Kong used to be its main rivals. But in recent years other cities have risen.
“I am a massive believer in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the UAE in general,” he said.
“I think once in a generation a country comes out which is a destination. When you and I were growing up it was probably London, New York and Hong Kong.
“And today you have probably got Singapore, Dubai, London, New York/Miami.”
Many of the buyers interested in the apartment are from the Middle East region, he said.
"We have a few interested parties we are talking to. One is from India, one is from eastern Europe, but not Russia.
“A few of are from the Middle East ― the Saudis, Qataris and UAE.”
Mr Candy lived in the penthouse, apartment B.10.01, for five years with his wife, former Neighbours actress Holly Valance, and their two young daughters, before relocating a few years ago to another luxurious home in Chelsea.
He left the apartment empty despite receiving lucrative rental offers from a series of elite prospective tenants, including A-list movie stars.
He said he considered keeping the apartment for a while after announcing its sale last year, but he has now definitely agreed to go ahead with the sale.
“I think it is a huge opportunity for people who believe London will still be here in 40 years’ time. It’s as good a value as you will ever get it.”