1. Kensington Palace Gardens
Location: London, England
Average home price: $85 million
Tucked between Kensington High Street and Notting Hill, this half-mile street is London’s crowning jewel of residential excess. Even the richest Londoners secretly seethe at the regal mansions that line the street, since few are actually owned by Brits — Middle Eastern and Swiss tycoons have grabbed first dibs. Strangely, the turnover of many homes is high, signaling that these aren’t really homes, but rather fleeting investments.
What not to miss: House number 18-19, billed at more than $160 million, is London’s single most expensive house.
2. Jupiter Island
Location: Florida, USA
Average home price: $5.6 million
Forty minutes from glitzy Palm Beach lies this little enclave that has been rated by Forbes as the most expensive ZIP code in the United States. Not surprisingly, this community of mansions linked to yacht clubs and golf courses, which flank a 17-mile-long beach, has been the home to some of America’s — and the world’s — richest families. Among its most illustrious denizens are President Truman’s Secretary of Defense Robert A. Lovett, and former President George H.W. Bush.
What not to miss: A boat trip past the Intercoastal Waterway beaches is scenic and relaxing.
3. Belle Haven
Location: Greenwich, Connecticut, USA
Average home price: $5 million
Seeking small-town solace, New York’s brokers and mutual funds wizards relocated to this New England refuge with clean streets, lush parks, golf courses, yacht clubs, and an awesome beach. The harbor is dotted with boutiques that buzz with activity in the summer. And only a 50-minute commute away from downtown Manhattan, it’s the perfect getaway for the world’s most stressed businessmen. Belle Haven, the city’s wealthiest neighborhood, has no houses selling for under $3 million.
What not to miss: The Homestead Inn, a luxury inn and restaurant, is known for offering the best dining experience in New England.
4. Pacific Heights
Location: San Francisco, California
Average home price: $4.5 million
With a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay, Pacific Heights is home to San Francisco’s first families and accomplished artists and businessmen. Tourists to the Bay Area flock in droves to catch glimpses of the ber-refined locals strolling in and out of Fillmore Street’s swank shops and cafes, and returning to their Victorian mansions. In July, Pacific Heights hosts the largest jazz festival (Fillmore Street Jazz Festival) on the West Coast — a must-see.
What not to miss: The steps between Broadway and Lyon, tucked between mansions and the Presidio, offer the classic Pacific Heights experience: a view of the Palace of Fine Arts with the Bay in the background.
Location: Hong Kong, China
Average home price: $3.5 million
“The Peak,” for those in the know, is the top visitor spot in Hong Kong thanks to its altitude, which offers an unparalleled view of the bustling port city. The neighborhood is dominated by the Peak Tower, a wok-shaped structure housing multiple shops and entertainment venues, such as Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Odditorium and Madame Tussauds wax museum. A stone’s throw away, you’ll find picturesque nature walks through Victoria Peak Gardens.
What not to miss: A ride on the Peak Tram, where a panoramic view of the city from above attracts six million people a year.
Location: Georgia, USA
Average home price: $2.23 million
For generations, its natural beauty has attracted America’s ultra-rich, who habitually rent the island’s vast cottages in the peak seasons. The upscale character of Sea Island is underscored by colorful buildings and luxurious homes designed by Addison Mizner, as well as golf courses known the world over. Nature lovers can stroll through the misty woods, which are as close to enchanted forests as they come. Athletic travelers will enjoy kayaking, boating, fishing, and horseback riding.
What not to miss: Clay shooting at the 70-year-old shooting school.
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Average home price: $1.8 million
Shibuya, in west Tokyo, is a newer shopping and entertainment district abuzz with bright lights that attract Japan’s ultra-trendy like moths to a flame. You’ll find Japan’s Olympic stadium and dizzyingly huge department stores, which beckon even the staunchest non-consumer. The NHK studios (Japan’s public television and radio broadcaster) are also a great site, offering tons of attractions for visitors.