Traditional retirement home? No it's hotel living


Margaret Thatcher famously moved into The Ritz when she could no longer manage the stairs in her Belgravia home. Who wouldn’t want to spend their final years in the lap of luxury?

Indeed, for an increasing number of retired professionals, who are not ready for a care or nursing home, something similar (albeit not quite The Ritz) is a viable option.

There’s a new breed of retirement home out there and it could easily be mistaken for a boutique hotel. These properties range from swish private flats to comfortable country retreats.

Battersea Place (lifecare, near Albert Bridge, in London, opens in October 2015 and bills itself as the capital’s first luxury retirement village.

It has 109 apartments ranging from one or two bedroom, to £2.6million penthouses overlooking Battersea Park. It will have concierge service, billiard room and beauty suite. There’s also a 30-bedroom nursing home.

Other possibilities include Audley Retirement Villages ( in eight locations including Berkshire, Devon, Derbyshire and Warwickshire.

The village offers new one to three-bedroom apartments and cottages, decked out with SieMatic kitchen units, Neff appliances and walk-in showers.

Joan Oates, 87, a former dance teacher, moved to Audley’s Clevedon House in West Yorkshire.

‘I live in a beautifully decorated apartment with my dog Charlie. There’s always lots for me to do like the Zumba classes or taking my friends to the restaurant.’

Helen Guy, 87, brought up three children in Cheltenham while her husband worked in London. When he died, she moved into a Richmond Village apartment at Painswick in the Cotswolds.

‘We have a lovely swimming pool,’ says Helen, ‘it’s where my great grandchildren have learnt to swim.’

Seven stylish homes have also been created by Gracewell Healthcare (, in the South of England. Specialising in dementia care, here you will find alpaca throws from Jonathan Adler and Designers Guild cushions.

The Berkley Care Group ( offers a similar level of luxury living. Three new properties opening next year all have a mini spa and chauffeur driven car at the residents’ disposal.

Evenings are filled with wine tastings, comedy and music. There is no avoiding the fact that this all comes at a price. However, this is a generation who are comfortably off with good pensions and wealth from property.

Indeed, Savills, the estate agency, estimates that the over-55s control about £1.77trillion of the equity of UK owner-occupied housing - that’s two-thirds of the total.

So the option is there to switch from being asset rich and cash poor to releasing equity for a lavish lifestyle in later life.