Check Into a Hotel and Never Leave

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Rich people from Andrew Carnegie to Al Capone once lived full time in residential hotels. And now you can too.

"I love hotel living. I would never live anywhere else," says Sotheby's International real estate broker Elizabeth Sample, who not only sells units in Manhattan's Mandarin Oriental Residences, but bought a $3 million place there in 2005. "I like the fact that you never have to leave the building if you don't want to."

The Ritz-Carlton Boston Residences

A popular housing option in the 19th and early-20th centuries for wealthy people, living full time in a hotel is making a big comeback.

Many of New York's landmark hotels -- from the Plaza to the St. Regis -- have converted some floors to condos in recent years. The Mandarin Oriental, the Ritz-Carlton and other hospitality chains have also teamed up with developers around the world to build combined hotel/condo complexes from scratch.

Developers will typically put condos on special floors or wings of five-star hotels that they're building, creating private residences with access to a facility's spa, health club and other amenities.

"The one thing that buyers all have in common is that they all want a hotel's amenities and services -- and they all gravitate toward brand names like the Ritz-Carlton," says real estate broker Michael Doherty, who lives Boston's Ritz-Carlton Residences and has sold several units there. "Most people who buy at the Ritz have stayed at a Ritz, and they expect the same services as residents that they got as hotel guests."

Hotel-based condos generally start at a bit under $1 million in smaller cities like Boston, while top-of-line Manhattan units can approach $100 million.

You're getting a lot more than just a glorified hotel room for your money.

Hotel-based condos usually come with full-sized dining rooms, living rooms, kitchens and everything else you'd expect in a private residence.

Throw in housekeeping, valet parking and other services and you get a lifestyle that's popular with CEOs, celebrities and others who have lots of cash but little free time.

New England Patriots star Tom Brady owned a $14.5 million Mandarin New York unit for several years, while hip-hop musician Jay-Z rented a four-bedroom condo there for a reported $40,000 a month.

In Boston, Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez and other baseball players hung their caps at the Ritz Residences when they played for the Red Sox.

Doherty says pro athletes especially like the Boston Ritz's 114,000-square-foot gym, which boasts a junior Olympic-sized pool, a full basketball court and 120 fitness classes per week.

The Boston Ritz also features a spa, a restaurant and a location that's just steps from famous Boston Common.

"You've got 50 acres of the Boston Common right on your doorstep -- and that's our version of Central Park," Doherty says.

Of course, if you prefer to live near the real Central Park, the Mandarin Oriental is right across the street from that famed landmark.

"Our views of Central Park are incredible -- like living art," says Brenda Powers, a real estate agent who, like Sample, lives at the Mandarin New York and sells property there. "I don't need art for the walls, because I have it in front of me every day out the windows."

And because the Mandarin is located in Manhattan's 80-story Time Warner Center, you can go to a four-story shopping mall, a two-story spa, numerous restaurants and a nightclub without ever stepping outside.

In Los Angeles, the 3-year-old Montage Beverly Hills Residences take up the top 2-1/2 floors of a five-star hotel that's right off famous Rodeo Drive. The complex features a two-level spa and fitness center, a rooftop pool and top-quality 24-hour services.

"It's almost like having your own chef, your own housekeeper, your own butler -- your own everything," says Coldwell Banker Realtor Kathy Villa, who recently sold a unit there. "You get the same luxury living that you'd have in a big estate -- without having to buy the big estate."

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