The billionaire Hinduja brothers have upstaged all competition - from arriviste industrialists to Bollywood stars who've been splashing around over the past two decades on exorbitantly expensive homes in London - by spending £100 million on a palatial property a stone's throw from Queen Elizabeth's iconic Buckingham Palace.
It took the Hindujas - who have an estimated fortune of £6 billion - five years to restore the mansion, carved out of four listed properties and located on the Mall, the boulevard in front of the UK's monarch's London residence. It was originally commissioned by King George IV in the 1820s.
Its six floors and 50 rooms are divided into four spacious, integrated apartments - one each for Srichand, Gopichand (both based in London), Prakash (who operates from Geneva) and Ashok (who lives in Mumbai), a swimming pool and a cinema hall.
The John Nash-created facade is charmingly English and a reflection of one of the most distinctive features of the London's architecture. It has, in fact, been acquired from the Elizabeth-owned Crown estate, a royal portfolio worth £7.3 billion. One of the flats was once the home of a 19th century British prime minister, William Gladstone.
The Hindujas' acquisition includes a dining room which can seat more than 30 people on a glass table. Italian chandeliers and Honduran mahogany paneling adorn the house. The meticulous restoration work under the watchful eyes of English Heritage has relaid solid marble floors.
Spent £40-50m to renovate
The £100 million palatial property of the Hindujas in London is an example of East meets West - a blend of quintessentially English presentation and Indian touches, such as elephant motifs on doors.
The director for London of English Heritage, Paddy Pugh, told the Sunday Times newspaper, "I can't think of another domestic restoration project on this scale with buildings of this importance," adding, "Rarely have we seen such opulence allied to such craftsmanship."
The Hindujas bought the four properties - which were in a run-down condition - for £58 million in 2006. They spent £40-£50 million to bring it back to their old glory. The Hindujas are known to entertain high-profile guests, such as British prime ministers and American presidents. Their interests include automotive plants, banks and petroleum products.