Notorious for being more up market, Chelsea is often an avoided weekend destination thanks its reputation as a quiet, pricey area of London. However, we have gathered a list of 10 things for you to explore here for a guaranteed great day out in the sought after borough.
Catch a break from the hustle and bustle of King’s Road at the Bluebird Café, which has an elegant interior décor, complemented by a large courtyard for alfresco dining when the weather is nice. Enjoy afternoon tea with scrumptious scones and marvellous macarons, or indulge in an indulgent dinner from the fine menu of modern European cuisine available.
Chelsea Physic Garden
This garden is the oldest botanical garden in London, founded in 1673 for the purpose of training specialists for plant identification. Nowadays, it is one of the most important centres of botany in the world. Come to this enchanted garden to read a bit about the history of plant exchange in the British Empire and be sure to stop by the Tangerine Café for a delicious lunch overlooking this beautiful collection of greenery. The price may seem costly, however the experience is totally worth it.
The Saatchi Gallery
This gallery is unique. Opened in 1985 by Charles Saatchi, it aims to exhibit contemporary artwork from unknown artists around the world. The collections vary and change from Russian contemporary installations to watchmaking presentations. Currently the gallery is exhibiting art from Africa and Latin America. The entry is free and the art is unusual so there is no reason not to stop by this fascinating museum.
The Duke Of York Square
After a visit to the gallery walk out into the Duke of York Square, a beautiful place for a coffee or a lunchtime treat. Various shops like Zara and COS make a delightful shopping experience in a square filled with sunlight and greenery. On a Saturday the Duke of York Square holds an exquisite market with food stalls from around the world offering steak sandwiches, sushi and duck wraps too delicious to resist.
Jazz At Pizza Express (The Pheasantry)
A well known place to go for some live music, this Pizza Express is located in an old building on the Kings Road with a heated garden area. The whole venue is too beautiful to actually believe it’s just a pizza place. Downstairs holds jazz, orchestral and solo performances in comfortable seats around tables to munch your way through a pizza whilst listening to great music with good acoustics.
Curzon Chelsea Cinema
A bastion of the eclectic and alternative culture that made the Kings Road famous, this cinema is a true joy for film lovers. Going beyond the superficial staples of other ‘art house’ cinemas, usually involving reclining chairs with toddler eating cushions and wackily flavored popcorn, the Curzon Chelsea offers a vast selection of foreign and independent films as well as live concerts, ballets and theatre screenings. But if that doesn’t interest you the cinema also offers the best blockbusters that can be found in most other less comfortable cinemas.
Shopping On The King’s Road
If you’re looking for a stroll around shops in an outdoor area with a great variety of merchandise, the King’s Road is the place to go. Though many shops are pricey, this retail destination is still worth exploring for unique finds like the outlet shop of Zadig & Voltaire and Tabio (a luxury Japanese sock shop). A long road running parallel to Victorian houses with an air of ease and quiet, strolling along the Kings Road starting from Sloan Square is a lovely way to spend your afternoon.
Home to the historic Peter Jones department store and the Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square is situated at the top of Chelsea’s famous King’s Road. Check out the Grade II listed war memorial and the Venus Fountain, the basin of which depicts King Charles II by the River Thames with Nell Gwynn, the prominent restoration actress and one of his most notable mistresses.
Priding itself on its prime cuts of matured beef, as well as a range of other British culinary classics, Hawksmoor also serves an array of exquisite cocktails that are so good that it’s difficult to even feel guilty drinking them before 5pm. Less than a five minute walk from Harrods, this is a great spot to recoup some energy after an exhausting shop.
For better or worse the The Phene has become an institution for modern Chelsea over the past 10 years. Built in 1850 as a local pub for workers it was then transformed into a gastro pub in the early 2000s. Nevertheless the strong opposition from campaigners and locals in 2012 prevented it from being transformed into an oligarchical private residence and it continues to be frequented by the Hugh Grants and Made in Chelsea cast members for a pint of ale (or a punnet of quail eggs). Though many pub fans may scoff at this in general, in this case that adds to this venue’s charm and makes it authentically in touch with contemporary west London. Though the dining room and lounge are comfortable, the true joy of this pub is dining on its terrace facing Margaretta Terrace; one of the most idyllic streets in west London.
The Phene, 9 Phene St, SW3 5NY 020 7352 9898
Chelsea Farmers Market
The misnomer is confusing, being more a collection of shops and restaurants than an actual farmers market; yet it proves to be one of the more peaceful locations along the otherwise bustling Kings Road. A sunny day is really the only time to go, with the restaurants being exclusively outdoors. While the prices of the gardening, organic and second hand bookshops hardly represent a bargain they nevertheless undeniably add to the market’s aesthetic charm.
Offering one of the best selections of Italian Gelato in London, this small shop mid-way up the Kings Road is a must on a hot day. But seeing as those days are few and far between, their huge list of coffees and hot chocolates are ideal for the otherwise orthodox London weather. The only issue is that on those rare sunny days when ice cream is mandatory Amorino’s scoops arranged into a flower are quite heartbreaking to destroy.