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December 28, 2023

Properties of the Year: The Best Luxury Real Estate of 2023

Here are our favorite properties we've seen in the market throughout 2023.

By Bea Isaacson

It’s been a fantastic year for luxury real estate across the world. From historical manors that once housed royalty, to exciting new builds pioneering the very frontier of architecture, there is truly something for everyone in this vibrant and ever-growing market.

Naturally, there have been trends, a lot – but not all – of which are somewhat implicitly or explicitly still being shaped by the pandemic. This year, the Middle East has been the fastest growing luxury residential real estate market, with Dubai leading the charge.

Demand remained high in cities such as New York and London, with traditionally luxe architecture of brownstones and white terraces being matched by glamorous new apartment buildings, often offering the same standard of a hotel, if not actually being adjoined to one.

The search for the perfect second – or third or fourth – home remains strong, a long-held status symbol of the world’s elite that was only reinforced during the international lockdowns of 2020 and 2021. Traditional spots such as the South of France and New England remain popular, with new scenes, such as the American southwest and the English countryside, developing a stronger status upon the world stage.

Above all, data suggests, the world’s ultra-high net worth individuals are still seeking properties that prove to be good investments. Whether a residence block by a luxury fashion house or a house that has played its part in world history, here are our favorite picks of the luxury real estate scene from 2023.

Little Pipe Cay, Bahamas

Exterior shot of Little Pipe Cay Island
Little Pipe Cay Island / © Engel & Völkers

Go big or go home, as the saying goes. What if going big is going home? Coming in at 38 acres is Little Pipe Cay, the Bahamian island was put up for sale for a cool $100m. Located 70 miles off Nassau, the country’s capital, this island is pure tropical paradise; that trademark Caribbean white sand, clear blue waters, and the most vivid of skies.

With the island also including a 5,000-sq-ft mansion, 24-hour security, and other fun amenities such as a superyacht and seaplane dock – can real estate get more luxurious than this? –  it’s no surprise the island, which we first reported on in June 2023, is no longer for sale.

Saint-Germain-des-Pres Apartment

Paris property secret garden
Boasting a secret garden right in the heart of Paris / ©Knight Frank

In all big cities, finding a property that has absolutely everything one wants is difficult to the point of often feeling impossible. This Parisian offering of luxury real estate is that rare oasis in the listings desert; housed within an 18th-century townhouse in the stylish Saint-Germain-des-Pres, this historic apartment boasts a wonderful dining space and an expansive library amongst multiple other beautiful entertaining spaces. Our favorite detail, however, is the lush green garden.

Waldorf Astoria Costa Rica Residence

Waldorf Astoria Residence Estate #1
There are 22 Waldorf Astoria Residences announced for Guanacaste / ©Waldorf Astoria Residences

An emphasis on sustainability has also been a major trend within luxury real estate that we’ve reported on this year, with new builds especially going above and beyond to source more environmentally friendly alternatives across the architecture, installation and even furnishings. The new Waldorf Astoria residences in Costa Rica have been especially impressive; the properties are fitted with various amenities that include wastewater systems and naturally illuminated and ventilated rooms.

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Above all, however, this is a gorgeous property that truly celebrates the beauty of the region. Located atop a cliffside peninsula with awing vistas across the Gulf of Papagayo, the property Estate #1 features luxury hotel amenities both within the house and across the residences complex.

Manston House, England

English country house exterior
Manston House / ©Blue Book Agency

First built in the 17th century, and today Grade II listed in acknowledgement of its significant historical and cultural architectural relevance, this eight-bedroom English manor feels somewhat otherworldly. Looking like just its jumped from the pages of a fairytale rather than anything contextualised across modern England, this luxurious sanctuary tucked within the depths of England’s West Country countryside comes with lashings of utterly sophisticated and subtly eccentric English style.

Dolce & Gabbana Miami Residence

888 Brickell
888 Brickell / ©Dolce & Gabbana

When we heard that Dolce & Gabbana were venturing into real estate – in Miami, no less – we were immediately interested. What can we say; we know our brand! Located in the neighborhood of Brickell, the residences are housed within what will be the city’s tallest building, clocking in at a colossal 1,049 ft. Promising all the glitz and gild of the luxury fashion house, and all the charm and fun of Miami, we simply can’t wait.

[See also: What are Branded Residences?]

Hollywood Hills Estate

Hollywood estate library
Former owners include Howard Hughes / ©Smith&Berg

New luxury residences and properties are being built every day it seems; one can’t turn a corner in a major city without running into scaffolding of real estate development. This Hollywood mansion is something of a rarity in the market; first built in 1926, and meticulously revived (but not massively changed) since, this Roland Coate designed property is unmissable for those seeking a bit of history and heritage.

Which, it transpires, the property has in bounty. Previous dwellers include socialite Eva K Fudger, actor Howard Hughes, and restauranteurs Ash and Niroupa Shah. The latter have maintained a lot of the original architecture and design, built in the Spanish Colonial style, but have sensitively updated it for the modern age.

Villa Adastra, Ibiza

Ibiza mansion exterior
The exterior of Villa Adastra / ©Charles Marlow

There’s nothing quite like the seemingly infinite tide of winter bleakness to have us daydreaming of summers gone by. And where does summer quite like the Spanish island of Ibiza? Welcoming the world into its sun-kissed arms every June to September, there’s more to the island than just the one season; for those who know it, Ibiza is a wonderful year-round destination.

Invest in luxury real estate on the island and swap the cold January blues for a pleasant 60 degrees upon the island at its least busy and most serene. This five-bedroom property from Charles Marlow is fantastic for hosting big groups during peak season, and wonderful to curl up in when seeking remote bliss. With vistas across the Mediterranean Sea, it’s the perfect property within the best location to call a second – or even a first – home.

Click here to visit the Elite Traveler Holiday Gift Guide 2023

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