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2016’s Top 10 Most Expensive Christmas Gifts in Real Estate – And Affordable House Plan Alternatives

These May Be Eye-Popping Homes – But There Are Great Similar House Plans You Can Afford!


Get ready for some “sticker” shock as we once again take you on a roller coaster ride of the sensational homes of the super wealthy and famous. On the real estate block in 2016 are Villa Les Cedres in France’s Cap Ferrat; a spec home in Bel Air; a mega-complex called Palais Bulles, or Bubble Palace, in Cannes; a Regency mansion in central London; a penthouse in New York City; a gorgeous palatial mansion in Florida; a luxury home in China; and for a “mere” $125 million, a 75,000-acre beachfront residence in Barbados.

But as you read about mega-mansions and futuristic palaces., make your Christmas dream come true with fabulous alternative home plans from our collection. Not as large and palatial as the estates on the list of the world’s most expensive addresses, these residences offer all the luxurious amenities enjoyed by the rich and famous – for just a fraction of the cost.


#1 Villa Les Cedres – Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, South of France: $1.1 Billion

Yes, that’s a staggering $1.1 billion sale price!

A sprawling mansion located in France’s “billionaire playground” of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, the Villa Les Cedres (The Cedars) - with its spectacular views of the Mediterranean – has been touted as the most expensive house in the world.

Les Cedres has 10 bedrooms, an Olympic-sized pool, a ballroom, a chapel, 30 stables, 20 greenhouses, and a winter garden. Its most amazing feature is a magnificent 35-acre garden with 15,000 plants and rare tropical vegetation.

Built in 1830, Les Cedres was once the holiday home of King Leopold II of Belgium.  It was sold in 1924 to Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle of Grand Marnier fame who kept it in the family. Its last owner was Suzanne Marnier-Lapostolle.  


Try This

Instead of Villa Les Cedres (and the Kings Point Estate, #10 on our list, for that matter) why not the 3-story French Country chateau below, which occupies 8,933 square feet of living space? Majestic in its own right, with its brick and stucco exterior, a circular turret, portico, arched entryway and windows, the home includes 7 bedrooms, 7 full bathrooms, 1 half-bath, 3 fireplaces, and other amenities. 

3-story French Country chateau style home with turret

From the impressively landscaped courtyard entry to the stone columns, the wood door with glass panes, and a storybook turret, this spectacular 3-story French Country chateau can be a perfect “royal” home. The home’s features are accentuated and look more dramatic in the night light (Plan #180-1034).


The master suite, which occupies one wing of the main level comes with a master bath, his and her walk-in closets, and dressing area, and it opens to an exercise room and sauna. A guest suite is also on the main floor, along with the Great Room, study, family room, crafts/laundry room, home office, and mudroom. In addition, the “chateau” features an elevator, library, media room, second-floor laundry room, and wine cellar.


#2 Nile Niami Bel Air Spec Home – Los Angeles: $500 Million

You won’t have views of the Mediterranean – but will the Pacific Ocean and the San Gabriel Mountains do?

A proposed mansion of gigantic scopes is set to be built atop a 4-acre hilltop lot in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles. A project of Hollywood producer and real estate developer Nile Niami, the 100,000 square-foot Spec Home will also have panoramic vistas of the San Fernando Valley, Beverly Hills, and downtown Los Angeles. When the mansion is fully constructed in 2017, Niami will put it on the market for a cool $500 million.

What can one expect when this mega-residence is completed? There are plans for a 5,000-square-foot master suite, a 30-car gallery, a 45-seat IMAX theater, a casino and nightclub, a four-lane bowling alley, and a lounge surrounded by tanks filled with iridescent jelly fish.


Can You Afford This?

For much less than the Bel-Air Spec Home, you can enjoy great outdoor and lake views plus all the modern amenities with the charming country home with Craftsman influences shown below. Yes, it’s a smaller home in comparison – but remember, small can pack a big, awesome punch!

4-bedroom Craftsman-style home with stone and wood-shingle siding

Breathe in the country air as you settle into this delightful 4-bedroom Craftsman-style home, which comes with all the modern amenities (Plan #180-1020).


Built around 4,304 square feet of space, the home has a courtyard entry, a stunningly-detailed rock-stone exterior, gabled roof made of asphalt shingles, a portico, covered porches and a rear patio, and an open floor plan. There are 4 bedrooms, 4 baths, a Great Room, family room, sunroom, recreation room, and wine cellar.

Living room with piano in Plan #180-1020

Can you see yourself sitting in the comfort of this living room while listening to someone playing the piano (Plan #180-1020)?


#3 Palais Bulles (Bubble Palace) – Cannes: $455 Million

If you have $455 million to spare and love futuristic designs, then, take a serious look at Palais Bulles or Bubble Palace, with its sphere-shaped rooms, that looks like a Space Age residence, a rather unusual but intriguing sight in the opulent south of France.

The vacation home of designer Pierre Cardin, Palais Bulles is the “brainchild” of Hungarian architect Antti Lovag, who created round and oval-shaped rooms that look like bubbles within the tropical blue and green landscape. Built in 1989 and located just outside Cannes, the mansion overlooks the Mediterranean and the Esterel mountains.

The estate occupies 12,916 square feet of living space – with 10 bedroom suites, an amphitheatre with 500 seats, reception room, a panoramic lounge, pools and gardens spread across more than two acres. The house has 28 round rooms – beds are round, too.


Elegant Alternative

Not as palatial but still an expansive property, the enchanting 3-story Mediterranean style home below – with 6 bedrooms, 5 full bathrooms, and 2 half baths spread across 8,364 square feet of living space – can be someone’s answer to Palais Bulles. The home, with its tall arched windows, brings to mind the ovals and orbs of the Bubble Palace.

This Mediterranean gem has a fireplace, a covered front porch, lanai, balcony, study, elevator, an ornately designed winding staircase to the second landing, and a bridge to the guest suites.

Mediterranean style home plan #175-1256

An exterior view of an elegant Mediterranean style home showcases the tree-lined courtyard entry, the arched windows reminiscent of the orbs of the Palais Bulles, and a staircase with an elaborately finished wrought iron railing (Plan #175-1256).


On the main level are gardens, several covered lanais, a reflecting pool, spa, and a swimming pool. Occupying one wing of the second floor is the master bedroom – with the family room and Great Room on the other side. The library, 3 bedrooms, a wet bar, and more storage space are located on the third floor.


#4  18 Carlton House Terrace – London, UK: $385 Million

Can you imagine living next to the Queen of England on one of the most fashionable streets in the heart of London? For $385 million, you can own a six-story 19th century Regency mansion located at 18 Carlton House Terrace – within walking distance of Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly Circus and with spectacular views of St. Jamess Park.

Carlton House Terrace, built between 1827 and 1832

This is a vew of the Carlton House Terrace, built between 1827 and 1832, where it meets the Duke of Yorks Steps in London (photo credit: Carlton House Terrace by Richard Croft under license CC BY-SA 2.0).  


During World War I, 18 Carlton House Terrace was the headquarters of the Enquiry Department for Wounded and Missing, the British Red Cross and Order of St John. The nobility, members of the House of Commons and dignitaries were frequent guests at the mansion designed by John Nash, an architect under the patronage of King George IV. The home has approximately 50,000 square feet of space, high ceilings, a double staircase, and a grand ballroom.


HIstoric? No. Desirable? Yes

It’s not historic by any means. But the extraordinary European luxury home plan below, which combines Old World charm and contemporary style, can rival the Regency Mansion at 18 Carlton House Terrace (not to mention the apartment at London’s Admiralty Arch – #6 on our list).

It has 9,107 square feet of living space, with 5 bedrooms, 6 full bathrooms, 3 half baths, 4 fireplaces, covered terraces, and a rear patio. There’s also a main floor master suite, Grand Room, family room, and home office.

Three bedroom suites and a study are on the second floor. In the basement are the recreation room with a billiards table, exercise room, spa, sauna, another office, wet bar and the guest suite.

Luxury European home with 5 bedrooms, 6 full bathrooms, 3 half baths, 4 fireplaces

There’s no need for other views when you have a home and grounds as lovely as this classic European luxury property (Plan #180-1043).


Living room with piano in Plan #180-1043

Fireplace with Old World charm in Plan #180-1043

Top: Check out the ceiling design and the matching etchings on the staircase railing and the glass-pane door. Bottom More Old World charm is showcased in the relief detail on the white fireplace (Plan #180-1043).


#5   220 Central Park South Penthouse - New York City: $250 Million

It’s not a historic building – but, the proposed quadplex, 23,000 square-foot apartment at 220 Central Park South in New York City is making history as Manhattan’s priciest apartment – at $250 million. That’s about $11,000 per square foot!

The condo – targeted for completion in 2017 – will occupy floors 50-53 in the limestone tower designed by architect Robert A.M. Stern. The Real Deal reports that the four-floor residence is a combination of an 11,000-square-foot duplex on the 50th and 51st floors that was asking $150 million, plus three other apartments. The going price for 52A, 52B and 53 B was between $26.3 million and $43 million.


#6   Admiralty Arch Apartment – London: $200 Million

Do you love parades and a great vantage point for watching? How about setting up house in a London landmark where coronation processions enroute to Buckingham Palace travel under its arches?

With $200 million, a luxury home inside the Admiralty Arch - a building commissioned a hundred years ago by King Edward VII to honor his mother Queen Victoria – can be yours for the asking. You’ll have fantastic views … and have the distinction of living in a place that Prime Minister Winston Churchill once called his office and where Ian Fleming wrote his James Bond novels.

Inside the “gateway to Buckingham Palace” – or Admiralty Arch – is one of the most expensive apartment residences in Central London (photo credit: Arco del Almirantazgo by Diego Delso under license CC BY-SA 4.0). 


Designed by Sir Aston Webb, one of the greatest architects of his era, the Admiralty Arch on The Mall was built in 1910. The property was sold to a Spanish developer in 2012, who is working with contractors to renovate Admiralty Arch and build luxury residences, a hotel, spa, and restaurants. The prospective $200 million apartment in Admiralty Arch will have 12 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms.


 #7 Gemini – Manalapan, Florida: $195 Million

If you find the oceanfront and the tranquility of tropical life more attractive than city living… then consider this Florida mega-mansion situated on Manalapan’s barrier island between Palm Beach and Delray Beach. Built on more than 15 acres of land, the estate consists of a residence with large wings connected by underground tunnels – and stretches both on the Atlantic Ocean beachfront and the Intracoastal Waterway sides.

Gemini occupies 63,000 square feet, a 12-bedroom residence, seven-bedroom guest house, miniature golf course, two practice putting greens, tennis and basketball courts, a Robinson Crusoe-style tree house, and 47 bathrooms. Like Villa Les Cedres, the estate features an amazing botanical garden with over 1,500 species of tropical trees and plants.


Go Affordable Coastal Instead

Stop dreaming of tropical Gemini (and Palazzate – #9 on our list). How about considering this gorgeous 2-story Coastal style home plan, with its open floor design and 5,653 square feet of living space that includes 5 bedrooms, 5 full bathrooms, 2 half baths, an elevator, 2 fireplaces, a loft, a library, a covered porch, and a balcony.

It’s not Gemini or Palazzate, but this Coastal style home has appealing features that can charm anyone. There are matching white columns on the front porch and the balcony and detailed design work on the gabled roof. Ceiling fans on the balcony and tall windows make the home plan airy and breezy (Plan #175-1243).


From the entryway, you walk into a foyer that leads to the family room and the Great Room (living/kitchen/dining areas). The master bedroom with an ensuite bath and his and her walk-in closets is on the main floor. You have access to the covered outdoor lanai, outdoor kitchen and dining area, and the swimming pool from the kitchen and the master suite. Also on this level are a study and home office. The rest of the bedrooms are on the second floor.


#8  Taohuayuan House – Suzhou, Mainland China: $154 Million

Straight from a mystical fairy garden filled with dazzling flowers and a magical mist-laden pond, Taohuayuan or “Peace Blossom Land” – a 32-bedroom house in Mainland China – is on the market for $154 million. It may just be the most expensive and luxurious residence in all of China. 

It took three years to build this masterpiece of serenity and beauty. Located in Suzhou, a city west of Shanghai, known for its canals, bridges and classical gardens, the house sits on a private island on China’s biggest lake - Suzhou’s Dushu Lake. Taohuayuan features fanciful landscaping and impressive water views.

The interiors are just as luxurious – with 32 bedrooms (all facing south), 32 bathrooms, wine cellar, and indoor rooms that open into breathtaking lake views.


Domestic Tranquility

For tranquility – if not the architectural style – reminiscent of China’s Taohuayuan, the magnificent luxury Craftsman style home plan below may just do the trick.

Situated on 7,404 square feet of living space with mountain views, the home has an open floor design, a covered porch and, spacious covered decks on all floors. The floor plan includes 4 bedrooms, 4 baths, 2 half baths,  and guest suites, with a master bedroom that opens to a private deck.

A spectacular to behold this mountain style craftsman boast large porch spaces, perfect light and attention to detail.

This dazzling 2-story Craftsman-style home plan features gorgeous views and wonderful interior features that people dream of (Plan #161-1017).


Tall glass windows – which allow a lot of natural light – surround the residence. There are other plush features: fireplace in the master suite, home theater, recreation room, library, a wine tasting area, a courtyard entry whose focal point is a breathtaking water fountain that cascades down gigantic rocks. You can’t ask for more!


#9   Palazzate – Saint Peter’s Bay, Barbados: $125 Million 

From Mainland China’s house on the lake, let’s move on to Saint Peter’s Bay, Barbados where for $125 million, you can experience exclusive beachfront living in a two-acre luxury mansion on the Barbados Riviera.

The newly-built Palazzate – located on the west coast of the island – is the priciest property not only in Barbados but in the entire Caribbean. Spread across the estate are four oceanfront residences each with 13,000 square feet of living space, five bedrooms, six bathrooms, individual media room, and pool.

There are four infinity-edge swimming pools, a spa area with treatment rooms, health club, quiet room, rain shower, changing rooms and boat docks at nearby Port Ferdinand Marina. Other amenities include underground parking for 18 cars, security system, a bar area with direct access to family pool and beach, and staff areas with laundry, kitchens, private access elevators and biometric controls


#10  Kings Point Estate – North Shore, Long Island, New York: $100 Million

Another island, another luxury mansion. About 25 miles from New York City – in the village of Kings Point, on the North Shore of Long Island – is a 60,000-square-foot palatial estate that’s on the market for $100 million. Originally built in 1928, the majestic 8-acre mansion once belonged to a Russian billionaire.  

Comprising the main residence and two guest houses, the compound comes with 13 bedrooms, 35 bathrooms, a number of indoor and outdoor pools, a racquet ball court, fitness and yoga studios, his and her saunas, Turkish baths, and other lavish amenities.

Within the elegant mansion are originally designed stone murals, inlaid floors, a grand ballroom, smaller rooms for intimate gatherings, several private bedroom suites, state-of-the art kitchens, and catering facilities.

The expansive grounds around the property showcase a variety of gardens – rose, Japanese, English – a Koi pond, fountains, walking trails, and sculptures along the paths. There is a tennis court and a dock for a 200-foot mega-yacht. A few of its more unique and extraordinary amenities are a bowling alley, casino, shooting gallery, a two-story dollhouse, and a two-floor car collector’s garage with a hydraulic lift.  


You don’t have to own a mega-million estate on a private island to feel like the rich and famous. As we’ve shown, there are wonderful homes out there that you may find more intriguing and appealing.    

And Christmas can bring many surprises … perhaps, even your dream home!



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