Is this London’s most glamorous retirement home?
Forget millennials, the real innovation is happening at the other end of the market: the perennials. Now on site and set to open in 2019, Auriens is a new development in Chelsea catering exclusively to septo-octo-nonagenarians and beyond. A generation who, in burgeoning numbers and in stark contrast to the already outdated popular conception of “old people” and “pensioners”, are still young at heart and keen to live their later life to the full.
Catering will be exceptional, the Club a stylish place to congregate, the Library a joy to linger in, explain co-founders Karen Mulville and Johnny Sandelson. The interior design is by Richmond International (recently responsible for the Beaumont Hotel), there’s a bar called ‘Zimmer’ (yes really), and service to die for (no pun intended, but hey, let’s talk about it). Put simply, Auriens is evidence that what might have once been described as a ‘retirement home’ is finally (pun intended this time) coming of age.
Luxury retirement homes and villages are nothing new. But when Mulville and Sandelson thought about it (tellingly, in Mulville’s case over a long lunch in a Soho House) they felt there was still a lot of room for improvement. Is there anywhere that really sounds appealing as a place to live when you reach a certain vintage and full independence starts to look like it might not last forever?
On a mission to provide an urban, sociable, active and generally fabulous alternative, Mulville and Sandelson are building a new kind of development. At Auriens, the luxurious surroundings that might be found at One Hyde Park meet the top notch hospitality of Claridge’s. But most importantly, they also come with next level 24-hour care, thanks to Auriens’ partnership with Draycott Nursing, not to mention every relevant progressive technology. With 20 years experience in the sector, and offering a bespoke approach to medical support, each program is tailored to the individual’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs in a discreet and dignified manner. The equipment and tech is impressive too. Fallen over? A sensor in the floor will make sure someone knows about it.
It is crucial, says Mulville, that design and detailing are of the highest standards, as is the level of care, because they are catering to a demographic that is used to living well. “Why should you have to start making huge compromises at this stage of your life?” asks Sandelson. “Collaborations with the right brand partners are just one way we are working to make it all happen.” The ideas of Aston Martin mobility scooters and Bugatti stairlifts have already been raised – both epitomise the Auriens attitude that, as Jules Renard once noted, “it’s not how old you are, but how you are old”. And while Richmond Interiors are briefed to consider everything from cupboard heights to handles, the look and feel is still more classical elegance than orthopedic.
Mulville and Sandelson had been searching for some time for the right site, but being central London was always key. At Dovehouse Street on the King’s Road, Auriens is positioned at the heart of an area that has already once sparked a revolution in social attitudes and behaviour. Now it hopes to welcome the generation that challenged the post-war orthodoxy back to dazzle again.
“In truth, it was a time-consuming process to get to launch,” said Sandelson. “We held out for the right site to develop a world-class environment for living, and ageing, in a place our clients lived.” With all the shops and social life of Kensington and Chelsea on the doorstep, and a chauffeur service to take them anywhere they want to go, residents will not only be well looked after physically, they’ll be having the time of their lives. And that’s saying something.
Apartments at Auriens will start at £3 million, plus a management charge, but unlike many “homes” this does buy you a spacious flat, not just an en-suite room. Mulville and Sandelson are already looking at expansion to new sites too, with St Johns Wood and Knightsbridge sites on the cards, as well as New York and LA. But, says Mulville, “The idea is that Auriens Chelsea really will be somewhere where style meets substance, a place where growing old will be such a wonderful and considered experience.”
Even for those who have a few decades on the clock still to go before thinking about checking in, Auriens is an inspiration: this is a space and this sector worth watching very carefully. The best, it would seem, is yet to come.