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The penthouse. It’s an idea that’s ingrained in the global vernacular and one that conveys the very best in urban/vertical living. Prospective homeowners will find numerous examples in every major metropolitan area around the world, and the exclusivity that the best penthouses can offer is one of the few constants from city to city. Rooms With a View Those seeking to live in a penthouse may be drawn to such a residence for a myriad of reasons, but it’s understood that every high-end penthouse will offer certain standard luxuries. Unparalleled privacy, breathtaking views from every room, bold and dramatic architecture, expansive living space—these are just a few of the amenities that define a penthouse home. Additionally, a penthouse often can offer amenities not found in other residences of the building in which it’s located. For example, because there are no additional units above the very best penthouses, those residences typically include working fireplaces and also enjoy floor plans that aren’t constrained by supporting columns. Then there’s the level of service. During the 1980s and 90s, many new hotels were designed to include additional private residences. Because of that, penthouse residents in those buildings often gain access to all of the amenities offered by the hotel. As a rule of thumb, most top penthouses around the world will command a market price of at least $5 million (about €3.8 million), though there are exceptions to that rule. A 3-bedroom penthouse in Surfer’s Paradise, Australia, for example, offers an open floor plan for the main living areas, spectacular views of the country’s eastern coastline, and access to three swimming pools. It’s listed for $2.27 million (about €1.7 million). Then there are the penthouses at the W Hollywood in Los Angeles, which run from $1.1 million to $2.6 million (€841,000 to €1.98 million), and offer 24-hour concierge services, a private rooftop pool, and a location in the heart of Hollywood’s most historic neighborhood. Surfer's Paradise Surfer's Paradise Still, most penthouses come with sizeable price tags, such as this sprawling residence in Vienna that offers more than 4,400 square feet of living space with views overlooking the Imperial Gardens and Museum of Fine Arts ($14.4 million/€11 million); or this Manhattan residence, which offers almost 11,000 square feet of living space spread out over five floors ($24.5 million/€18.7 million). Some, like this Parisian penthouse facing the Elysee Palace and this 4-bedroom residence in Rio de Janeiro, require prospective owners to request the price from the listing agent, but in other areas of the world, every aspect of the residence remains private . . . even the fact that the home is up for sale. Shaun Drummond, the residential sales director for Harrods Estates in London, says that the most exclusive penthouses for sale in his city are only offered privately and require prospective homeowners to work with a buying agent (offered through his company as well as other leading real estate firms and banks throughout the city). “The very special properties don’t come on the market a lot,” he acknowledges. “And when they do, it’s a closed market. It’s more private. It’s much more exclusive to be offered in an off-market basis.”

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For a listing of luxury penthouses and other homes on the market, click here.

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