An Alpine chalet in Hampton Court? You’d better believe it. This extravagant renovation beings together the old and the futuristic to create a truly fabulous home
It might not be the first thought that springs to your mind when you stand back to look at the imposing Chalet Estate in Hampton Court, but this is a property brimming with history.
Granted, historical character perhaps falls second best to the party credits that the chalet holds, but having been imported from Switzerland in 1882, it is now a listed building due to its illustrious history. This is your chance to buy a home fit for royalty, where parties are certainly the main event.
There is a story that the land the chalet was built on was bequeathed by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) in payment for a gambling debt, but many academics deem it unlikely.
However, by 1909 it was called O’Hagan’s boathouse, and Edward did have a Lord in Waiting called Maurice Herbert Towneley-O’Hagan, so some say the legend could be partly true. Visitors such as Judy Garland, Charlie Chaplin and Fred Astaire have added to a sense of prestigious history that comes with the chalet.
It is now owned by spatial and landscape architect Myck Djurberg, who has spent years transforming the property into its former glory. As one of the men who worked on the restoration of Windsor Castle after the fire, it seems there might have been no better person for a job with so many possible links to royalty.
‘I don’t live far from the historical building and I’ve always thought it’s an incredible piece of architecture,’ says Djurberg. ‘I tried to work around the existing and natural environment rather than creating something entirely bonkers that would destroy the landscape. I wanted to make an old, historical building accessible to others, which is at the heart of what I do.’
It’s a property for someone who doesn’t need a place to live, but wants a place to entertain
One of the biggest hurdles that Djurberg and his team had to overcome was the lifting of the property from the flood plain. It took a long time for British Heritage to persuade the council to give the go-ahead. Once sorted, however, the real fun began and Djurberg spent nearly £3.2m restoring the chalet. Everything within screams extravagance.
As it was originally a party house, it was important that he transformed it back into just that. It’s a property for someone who doesn’t need a place to live, but wants a place to entertain; therefore despite the enormity of the property it only has four main bedrooms.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a building that offers all you could ever think of, it comes with a separate guest house for those looking for a little more space. The marina is only 185 metres away too, so you can hold more people on the water if needs be and stretch the party atmosphere out along the river.
‘We had two huge parties to test it out with over 120 people and three chefs who were cooking until 6am the next morning,’ says Djurberg. ‘Think of something to do with a party, anything, and I can guarantee the house can make it happen.’
Recently, the house was rented out for just a few hours for the humble sum of £35,000. This could be a prime investment property for someone innately interested in the hospitality and events business.
‘It’s a trophy house in a lot of ways, for people who want to be able to say that they own the only chalet in the country,’ he says. ‘It’s for the very, very few and won’t appeal to everyone – but that’s kind of what’s special about it.’
With five sprawling floors it has a lot of scope including, Djurberg tells me, perhaps being used as a small hotel and restaurant. It’s certainly one of a kind and the party atmosphere inside never ends – there is not a stone a left unturned in the renovation here and Djurberg has definitely met his brief. As a new addition, they are just about to install the first floating swimming pool in the UK to be situated just in front of the building.
We had two huge parties to test it out with over 120 people and three chefs who were cooking until 6am the next morning
Could you possibly have a favourite part of a property so diverse and elaborate? Djurberg found the lifting of the building the most exciting part of the renovation, but in terms of the interior of the property, his favourite element is the way in which it connects with nature. ‘The whole interior completely flows,’ he says. ‘It has so much power and the architectural structure controls you. I’ve played with the different forces of the building from the oriental aspects to the Swiss elements and the Victorian structures inside.’
There is a room for every mood inside to mirror the fact that emotions change throughout the day, from the Victorian lounge to the Swiss balconies. It even houses a beach for those wanting to escape city life. For the lucky person purchasing the chalet, the party atmosphere of Christmas will be around all year long.
The Chalet Estate KT8 is POA. See sothebysrealty.com