Known – both famously and infamously – as the recreation ground for London’s affluent demographic, Chelsea is host to many of the city’s most coveted tables and famous boutiques, with several celebrated thoroughfares and neighbourhood clusters – King's Road and Sloane Square among them – defining the area. The instantly recognisable Bibendum has been serving the glam set from within its stained-glass-window building for over thirty years; the gastropubs continue to beat with life and well-pulled Guinness; and the Saatchi Gallery still leads the way in pushing the artistic envelope. Here, however, we look to some of Chelsea’s more contemporary pleasures – ones that keep the neighbourhood as relevant as ever...
Set within an 1889 residence just off Sloane Square, this 30-room bolthole is the collaborative effort of hotelier Costes and architect and decorator François-Joseph Graf. Sitting firmly in the home-away-from-home category of hotel styles, the revamped interior eschews a monotone mega-group design theme in favour of an assorted – yet refined – medley of fixtures and furnishings, with timber wall panelling, stained-glass windows, ceiling cornices, William Morris wallpaper and original Benson lighting lending a British flavour. Balancing it all is a Parisian slant, which can be found in the top-floor restaurant – an area that proffers Gallic dishes – and the downstairs lounge, home to a speakeasy-style space replete with fine libations and a resident DJ.
The Chelsea Townhouse
Staying at The Chelsea Townhouse feels like the sort of thing you’d read about in a British literary classic: three Victorian abodes joined together by hidden passageways and corridors, anchored by a private garden square, flush with a botanical theme, marble fireplaces and sash windows, and rich in silence. Of the keys on offer, we’d suggest plumping for the Chelsea Garden Suite, which is defined by its vistas of the verdant scene outside, sizeable lounging space, and light, natural tones. Of course, the glories of King’s Road, Sloane Square and Knightsbridge are in close proximity – but, the call of the four-poster bed may be too much to resist.
A stalwart in British fashion for more than three decades, Anya Hindmarch is feted for her accessories that imbue elevated craft with a strong sense of play and fun (a Mr Potato Head raffia shoulder bag, say, or a tote showcasing a Heinz Baked Beans tin design). Anya Life is the designer’s homewares and lifestyle collection, showcasing pieces that inject vibrancy into the abode – winning items include ceramics crafted with the label’s signature googly eyes; a candle infused with notes of crushed blackcurrant leaves and green mandarin; and an After Eight scarf made from mohair. The simple-appearing interiors, noted for their grid detailing, simply emphasises the punchy visuals of the products.
The Conran Shop
Since its 1973 founding, The Conran Shop has been widely accepted as the nexus of London’s design community, a place where creations by Ray and Charles Eames, Mies van der Rohe and Patricia Urquiola have shared the same roof. The new store, opened in late summer 2023, marks a fresh era in the company’s life, with the fit-out focusing on creating a domestic feel: ‘That's been the centre of our focus, to get back to being the home of considered design, to curate people's living spaces,’ said chief-exec Peter Jenkins. Touches, such as artworks curated in collaboration with Fine Line Art, and Charlie Sheppard’s mosaic-like creations, add a considered look to it all, meanwhile room sets exhibit both icons and brand-new designs.
A pioneer of timeless Italian menswear, Luca Faloni has finally solidified a permanent presence in Chelsea, much to the delight of the west-London crowd. Smooth, curved cabinetry showcases some of the label’s greatest hits: a zip cardigan crafted from 100 per cent two-ply pure cashmere; a spring-friendly brushed-cotton shirt that’s been handmade in northern Italy; and a pair of chinos produced from smooth cotton twill.
Meat the Fish
As with other noteworthy restaurants, Meat the Fish is founded on a few good principles: a focus on seasonality, a strong use of local produce, and a fine balance of superlative fish, meat, and plant-based cooking. Dovetailing the pantries and flavours of The Mediterranean and Asia, winners have included: chirashi bowls and black-cod donburi; Korean short ribs; caviar linguine; and black paella. The bar area, created with a soft glow and filled with rattan-and-velvet stools, is a fine place to dive into the small selection of premium sakes – if it’s a celebratory occasion, consider the Dassai Beyond.
The measure of a good neighbourhood, one could say, is the quality of its Italian restaurant – that bastion of good times, fine wines, and a lively community feel. David Yeo’s boat-to-table Azzurra, distinguishable by its restaurant-length bar counter, brings the spirit of la dolce vita straight to west Londoners, courtesy of a menu that showcases a raw bar (there's Scottish langoustine tartare with Amalfi-lemon oil and smoked Anglesey salt) and a seafood platter that features Welsh lobster and violet prawns; perfect plates of pasta, such as tagliolini with palourde clams; and mains that include the house’s signature seabass in a salt crust. To tip diners over the Epicurean edge, a tiramisu trolley is wheeled out periodically.
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