Whether you’re looking for a killer cocktail on the King’s Road or a postprandial digestif in Sloane Square, the best bars in Chelsea offer it all. From glamorous speakeasies to al fresco terraces, there’s more to a night out in this London neighbourhood than the traditional pub.
The winner of a number of best bar awards, JuJu is the jewel in the crown of SW3’s drinking scene. Behind the bar, a crew of mixologists work their magic, serving up classic cocktails and innovative new creations – try the Chelsea Dagger, a potent blend of Bombay Sapphire gin, elderflower liqueur, apple juice and demerara sugar, or a giant pornstar martini, served in a sharing-size fishbowl. A dazzling array of high-end bubbles, wines and spirits are also on offer, while the ever-changing Asian-inspired tapas menu will provide sustenance for all-night revellers.
Kick back with a bloody mary at No 11 Pimlico Road
Bar, Restaurant, Gastropub, Pub, British, European, $$$
If Ibiza beats and glitzy crowds aren’t your thing, No 11 Pimlico Road is the perfect middle ground. Somewhere between a gastropub and a bar, the vibe is laid-back and just the right side of buzzy. Head for brunch on a Saturday and get stuck in with a bloody mary, catch up with friends over a bottle of Nyetimber or sample the impressive beer selection, spanning everything from ciders to craft bottles. Located a short distance from both Sloane Square and Victoria Tube stations, No 11 Pimlico Road may well become your new favourite local.
Spread across four floors, Beaufort House, tucked away at the lower end of the King’s Road, guarantees a great night out. The ground-floor cocktail bar is the place to be seen, while the champagne penthouse is the perfect date spot. The wine list runs to over 100 labels, and tongue-in-cheek cocktails like the Chelsea Passion (Tanqueray gin, raspberries and champagne) won’t fail to please. The award-winning brasserie also serves up tasty British dishes for when hunger strikes, and the weekend brunch menu will tackle even the most stubborn of hangovers.
A subterranean Mexican-themed playground, Tonteria is the definition of debauchery. Wash down sharing platters of crispy squid and lime salsa, patatas bravas and tuna tacos with frozen margaritas and tequila shots, the latter delivered to your table via a toy train, or share a cocktail or two out of a giant donkey piñata. Keep an eye out for themed nights, but remember the party doesn’t start here till late – don’t bother arriving before 11pm.
Hit up Barts, Chelsea’s premier speakeasy-themed bar
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
Hidden behind an inconspicuous black door on Sloane Avenue, Barts is one of Chelsea’s best-kept secrets. It’s a speakeasy-themed cocktail bar, so expect to find quirky interiors, mismatched furniture and a Prohibition-era soundtrack. The drinks menu is equally unique; bartenders can rustle you up a fresh concoction using herbs from the bar’s own garden, or you could try the famous Barts sharing cocktails, served in teapots. Of all the bars in Chelsea, Barts is on the smaller side, so be sure to call ahead to get on the guest list.
This swinging Sloane Square bar is a Chelsea classic. A stone’s throw from the Tube station, The Botanist’s prime position pretty much guarantees a crowd, come rain or shine. While it’s on the weekends that things really get going here, the post-work scene is strong, especially on a Friday. The wine list is international, the cocktails are excellent and there’s an impressive choice of beers if you’re after a thirst-quenching pint. The menu at the adjacent brasserie is equally delicious, with a strong focus on British produce.
Eclipse has been Chelsea’s coolest bar for decades
Bar, British, $$$
Eclipse, on the tip of every young socialite’s tongue since it opened its doors in 1998, is a Chelsea hotspot. Located on Walton Street, this chic cocktail bar is ideal for both post-work drinks and a raucous night out – the bar and dance floor are open till 3am. Fresh fruit plays a starring role in Eclipse’s hero cocktails and no visit is complete without a sip or two of its signature martini, which is infused with vodka, fresh watermelon and kaffir lime. Also worth a try is a Crack Baby shot, a heady blend of vodka, passion fruit, Chambord and champagne. After all, when in Chelsea…
With a heritage stretching back to 1853, The Phene has evolved into a Chelsea institution. Housing a traditional saloon bar, a conservatory restaurant and a cosy upstairs lounge, there’s a relaxed atmosphere and the outdoor area brings in the crowds come summer. Oenophiles will appreciate the lengthy wine list (there are over 30 available by the glass), while London-brewed ales, including the super-local Battersea Rye, are worth a try.