neighbourhood guide:

Chelsea

Once a synonym for bohemian living in the city, those who occupy its charming squares and townhouses live a more comfortable life-style now. (Almost) long gone too are the days of the ‘Sloane Ranger’, a particular type of upper-middle-class Londoner who once roamed the streets around Chelsea and Sloane Square — but what remains is a multitude of high-end fashion boutiques and eateries along the King’s Road. A shoppers’ paradise, the King’s Road runs west to east in the direction of Sloane Square. Wander the surrounding residential streets and stumble upon hidden pubs, gardens and churches. In May the area is blooming in honour of the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Restaurants

RESTAURANT GORDON RAMSAY // gordonramsayrestaurants.com
You’ll have to be super organised if you want a chance at nabbing a spot at one of London’s – and the world’s – finest restaurants. Bookings are regularly taken over three months in advance, and few diners drop out. Who would dare? This iconic London restaurant has held on to its three Michelin stars for over 17 years, the longest run of any Michelin-starred restaurant in London. The sommelier team here truly know their stuff – so don’t hesitate to ask for a recommendation – and the wit and charm of maitre d’ Jean Claude Breton is well renowned amongst London restaurant-goers. Really, as far as dining experiences go, it’s unmissable.

DAPHNE'S // daphnes-restaurant.co.uk
Princess Diana’s favourite restaurant, Daphne’s is less influential than in its thrilling 80s hey-day – but remains a dependable and utterly classic Chelsea restaurant. Serving hearty Italian dining the service here is impeccable, honed by decades of serving Chelsea’s upper-echelons – although often busy, you certainly won’t be rushed, and never snapped at (quelle horreur). Daphne’s has been brought a little more into the modern day after a refurbishment (made necessary by a fire in 2014), and the interiors are pure luxury: vintage 1950s Murano glass chandeliers drip from the ceiling, pink marble top the bar, while pleasingly crisp, white table cloths adorn every table.

ELYSTAN STREET // elystanstreet.com
Elystan Street is a fabulously relaxed restaurant with a double-Michelin star winning chef in the kitchen; it’s fine dining but without the time-consuming requirement to dress up to the nines before you dare to enter the building (although, it’s not that relaxed. The clientele is still rather chic). Unusually for a restaurant with a chef of Phil Howard’s stature they do take walk-ins, meaning you have somewhere impressive to take your parents if they surprise you with a visit. The Sunday lunch seems to have won particular acclaim amongst regulars; think perfectly succulent roast beef and finely balanced Bloody Mary’s.

CHICAMA // chicamalondon.com
Offering a menu inspired by Peru, using fresh and seasonal British fish and produce, Chicama brings a coastal feel to the King’s Road. We love the setting of blush-pink seats, eclectic ceramics, hanging plants and a welcoming terrace – making you feel as if you are having dinner at the home of a close friend. Perfect for pescatarians, there is no meat on the menu, only fresh fish and seafood. Pair the delectable scallop ceviche with their signature Paloma cocktail for the full Peruvian experience.

Arts & Culture

SAATCHI GALLERY // saatchigallery.com
One of London’s largest and most famous contemporary art galleries (aside from, of course, the glorious Tate Modern), the Saatchi Gallery has been a leading art institution since the mid-80s. Having changed homes several times – the collection was originally housed in an old paint factory in St John’s Wood and later, in the South Bank’s County Hall – it found its current abode in the magnificent Duke of York Headquarters. It has a fantastic free permanent collection but also regularly hosts some of the most popular and lauded exhibitions in the country, if not the world.

ROYAL CHELSEA HOSPITAL // chelsea-pensioners.co.uk
Home to many of the British Army’s war veterans (residents here are known as the Chelsea Pensioners), the Royal Chelsea Hospital is open to the public daily, for individual or group tours. The building itself is a 17th-century masterpiece by Christopher Wren, with a breathtaking chapel.

Our Chelsea favourites

Shopping Streets

SLOANE SQUARE //
Forget Oxford Street – Sloane Square is the best place to shop in London. Much quieter than its central London counterpart, you’ll find legendary department store Peter Jones on the corner, and a plethora of luxurious stores on Sloane Square itself and nearby Duke of York Square. Here too, is legendary theatre The Royal Court, where the best of new British playwriting is showcased – if a play is shown here, it’s almost certain to be the next play to take Theatreland by storm.

THE KING'S ROAD // kingsroadchelsea.london
Few roads are so synonymous with change, art, fashion and the swinging 60s as the King’s Road in Chelsea. In the late 1950s, a young designer called Mary Quant opened a boutique on the famous street and helped to start a revolution in hemlines. At the forefront of change in modern fashion, the King’s Road became awash with hip fashion boutiques; and the espresso coffee shops which had flourished in the area. For decades the street was a hub for trend-setters, today it's still lined with great shops, cafes and art galleries, albeit with a few less Mods…

After Hours

606 CLUB // 606club.co.uk
One of the best-loved jazz clubs in London, the 606 has been inviting jazz-lovers into its warm underbelly since the 1970s, faithfully run by musician and club-owner Steve Rubie. An excellent venue in which to see new talent (thanks to its close links to the Royal Academy’s jazz department) as well as jazz-legends such as Jason Robello, Polly Gibbons and Jamie Cullum.

CHELSEA PRAYER ROOM // goatchelsea.com
Hidden beneath gorgeous Chelsea restaurant, GOAT, is this beautifully lit speak-easy bar. With space for around 45 people, it's a pleasingly intimate space, perfect for a date night or a catch up with friends. They serve up some creative cocktails here, and the extensive list means everyone can find a drink or two – or three – they’ll enjoy (responsibly, we’re sure).

BARTS // barts-london.com
We’re afraid that unless you’re a member of this swanky Chelsea bar, you’ll need to know the password – and we’re not telling (well, that would spoil all the fun). Handy hint: try to reserve a table a few days in advance if you don’t have any Barts members in your London contact book. Riotously good fun once you’re inside, with a rather infamous dress-up box, it begins to feel like you’re at a rather swanky house-party as the night wears on. Yes, the drinks are a little pricey (it is Chelsea after all), but really, you won’t mind.

London_Chelsea_Body_Image_6

CHELSEA PHYSIC GARDENS // chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk
A bit of a secret garden, Chelsea Physic Garden has nevertheless existed on its current site since 1673, and gets its name from the garden’s original purpose; to grow plants used in 17th-century medicines. Despite its long history, the garden has only been open to the public since 1983 when it was given charitable status. Undoubtedly the oldest physic garden in London, and one of the oldest in the British isles, the gardens still hold 5,000 specimens of medicinal, herbal and edible plants. A charming playground awaits.

THE NATIONAL ARMY MUSEUM // nam.ac.uk
Despite its recent £24-million redesign, the National Army Museum remains something of a hidden gem. This fascinating museum chronicles the shifting perception and role of the British army throughout the last 350 years with over 2,500 objects on display. There are plenty of child-friendly activities, including a 'Tank Takeover' and 'Mini Marchers' sessions to keep them entertained.