The word maisonette (pronounce may-zon-et) is derived from the French term,
One common definition of maisonette is that it is a two-floor apartment with an internal staircase. It may be located in a larger building and usually has exterior access. Sometimes a single floor apartment with outside access is also defined as a maisonette. The idea of an apartment occupying two floors without renters or owners needing to share stairs with others, or the concept that you don’t have to enter an apartment building lobby to get to your dwelling is often thought upscale. Properties marketed as maisonettes might be a little more costly. This isn’t always the case; you may just be dealing with a landlord or seller with a good vocabulary or the word may be used to make a fairly standard apartment seem more luxurious.
Maisonette might also meet the definition of condo, townhouse or duplex. These residences share common walls, have street access, and many of them are two-story or higher. They are also “little houses” or part of a house, and square footage is usually smaller than that of a freestanding house, although there are exceptions. Very small houses may fall under the heading of maisonettes too.
There are certainly very luxurious apartment buildings that don’t offer outside access, especially when the buildings are high rises. With multiple-story buildings, you probably don’t want to have to climb several flights of stairs to get to your apartment. The maisonette, especially one defined as having street access, is usually a couple of floors at most, and if it is a single-storied apartment, you may have neighbors to your side, above, and/or below you. If your flat is on a second floor, expect to climb some stairs to get to its entrance.
Sometimes a very large home is rezoned as a group of apartments. These small parts of a home may be called maisonettes. They are little “houses” within a house.