Amberwood House at 17A Thurloe Place in Knightsbridge, was formerly the London home of Dame Margot Fonteyn and her husband Roberto Emilio Arias. K10 Group are transforming the historic property into a magnificent 15,300 sqft private mansion, hidden behind walled landscaped gardens and accessed via a private gated driveway. Launching in 2019, Amberwood House will be the finest house in Knightsbridge.
Close to Harrods and Sloane Street and located directly opposite the Victoria and Albert Museum, Amberwood House is an elegant three storey brick mansion with tall French and sash windows, ornamental balconies and bay to the garden façade.
The five bedroom house was originally built in the 1928 and between the early 1930s and late 1990s served as the Panamanian Embassy. During WWII Amberwood House become the focus of intrigues and spies, including a plot by the Germans to blow up the Panama canal which was successfully foiled.
In 1955 legendry ballerina Margot Fonteyn (1919-1991) married Dr Roberto Emilio Arias (1918-1989), a diplomat and son of Harmodio Arias, President of Panama during the 1930s. In the same year as his marriage to Fonteyn Roberto was appointed as Panamanian Ambassador to the Court of St James and Amberwood House became Margot Fonteyn and Ambassador Roberto’s official London residence.
The glamorous couple mixed with Royalty, politicans and celebrities and guests to Amberwood House during the 1950s and 1960s included Princess Margaret, Antony Armstrong-Jones, John Wayne, Yves Saint Laurent, Michael Somes, Peter Sellers, Sir Frederick Ashton and Judy Tatham. In 1959 Roberto was dramatically charged with attempting a coup attempt against Panamanian President Ernesto de la Guardia Jr but the allegations were dropped after a change of government.
Rudolf Nureyev, Fonteyn’s most famous dance partner, stayed as a guest in Amberwood House with Fonteyn whilst his contract with the Royal Ballet was negotiated after he defected to the West in 1961.
In 1964 Roberto was shot in Panama City by political associate Alberto Jimenez who accused Roberto of having an affair with his wife. Airlifted back to London Roberto was treated for 18 months in London hospitals and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. The shooting ended Roberto’s diplomatic career and the couple moved to Amerden Bank, their country home in Taplow, which Fonteyn had purchased in 1954; the pair relocating to Panama after Fonteyn’s retirement.
By the late 1990s Amberwood House had become extremely outdated forcing the Panamanian Embassy to relocate to a newly refurbished mansion at 40 Hertford Street in Mayfair. Amberwood House was then rented out to various tenants but became increasingly run-down.
In need of rescue, Amberwood House was acquired by K10 Group in 2011 who then devised plans with GMA Architecture to refurbish and extend the property, which was successfully granted in April 2016. The specification and interior design scheme has been devised by K10 Group working with leading international design house Argent Design.
The new mansion will provide luxurious accommodation over basement, lower ground, ground and two upper floors. Features will include a double height entrance hall with grand chandelier, grand main reception room with bay window and French doors opening onto the garden, large family kitchen, breakfast and family room, a club room with a cinema and cocktail bar and a walk-in wine cellar with bespoke cabinetry.
The basement will provide a luxurious health spa complex with a grand swimming pool room clad in Travertine marble with
The master bedroom suite will occupy the entire first floor and features a master bedroom opening onto ornamental balconies, a morning room, study, His and Her dressing rooms and His and Her marble bathrooms. On the top floor there are four VIP bedroom suites, each lined with bespoke wardrobes and with ensuite marble bathrooms.