With lavish heritage hotels, disposable shops and artful streets, the historic and stylish London borough of Chelsea has undeniable and enduring charm. Here you can stay on your next visit …
Where to stay in Chelsea:
It does not get much more Chelsea than The Cadogan, A Belmond Hotel: The 54-key Cadogan Hotel was awarded the ever-exquisite Belmond collection in the 54-key Cadogan Hotel, housed in five immaculately restored and intelligently connected buildings that are fabulously built in Queen Anne Revival style 2019 but dating back to 1887. Keeping its famous (and sometimes incredibly outrageous) past close to heart, The Cadogan is infused with an undeniable sense of place.
On the immaculate exterior, a blue plaque highlights the hotel’s link to the 19th century girl, Lillie Langtry, a British-American socialist / actress / producer / love interest in the eldest son of Queen Victoria, Edward VII, Prince of Wales. “The Jersey Lily”, as she was happily called, lived at 21 Pont Street, which became part of the hotel in 1895. Original features at the entrance to Langtry’s apartment have been preserved, and guests can still use this secret side entrance to admire it. beautiful wood paneling and mosaic floor, covered with images of lilies that have been replicated throughout the hotel. Langtry, who remained in his apartment even after it became part of The Cadogan, was a contemporary of Oscar Wilde, who was famously arrested at the hotel in 1895 for gross indecency. Tribute to Wilde can also be found throughout the property, the most eccentric of which is the life-size, white peacock sculpture out of the lobby, covered with over 25,000 Swarovski crystals and christened with the name Oscar (what else?).
The Peacock Oscar is just one of 429 works of art displayed at The Cadogan, many of which were commissioned by contemporary female artists such as Kathleen Mullaniff and Jane Kell. The hotel’s art and impeccably well-dressed, modern-classic interiors draw inspiration from the green space of Chelsea (and its famous flower exhibition), and the staff at the front of the red rose-patterned uniforms also give a gentle nod. Other staff uniforms evoke different facets of Chelsea’s legacy. For example, the doormen’s red, marked coats pay homage to the ultimate sixties Chelsea Girl, designer Mary Quant, who rewrote the fashion rules when she first opened her shop on nearby King’s Road. From the chic floral porcelain to the geranium-scented toiletries from Bamford and the sleeping spray left pillow side at bedtime, every detail is considered and connected, which is why, despite plenty of other luxury hotels in the area, The Cadogan wins the title as the best hotel in Chelsea, if not the best hotel in all of London.
Eating and drinking in Chelsea:
It’s not only its classic cool design and shiny five-star service that make The Cadogan the best hotel in town, it’s the food as well. With the visionary, award-winning chef Patron Adam Handling at the helm, serving everything from flawless, freshly baked breakfast bakery and afternoon tea to extraordinarily creative cocktails and very memorable dinners on The Cadogan’s flagship, Adam Handling, Chelsea, there is no need to leave the hotel to get a bite to eat.
Even if you are not staying at The Cadogan, a drink or meal is virtually mandatory while you are in Chelsea. Breakfast for both guests and locals is served in a part of the hotel that was once a bank and now features high-design lighting and an almost Parisian vibe with bistro curtains and outdoor seating. In the evening, the same room is transformed into a glowing, atmospheric bar, where the custom illustrated menus are presented in sacred books and delivered complete with a welcome drink tucked inside. Drinks are exquisite and legitimately creative. Try the whip-smart Royal Mistress (another nod to Mrs. Langtry), made with mezcal, vermouth and cynar. The magic of the drink is surpassed only by the magic of the dining room, which is located just behind the bar in what was once Langtry’s apartment. The dishes range from the bold (see: Mother, a nest of ribbed celeriac, truffle and crispy apple, made for Action’s vegetarian mother) to the classic (see: the perfectly roasted beef of ribs for two with fat soft chips). Do not skip the dessert, which is presented on the menu as a trio of ingredients (ie “new season carrot, sea buckthorn, olive” or “English rhubarb, hibiscus, bay leaf”), as handling alchemies for more magic.
Elsewhere in Chelsea, finding the local pub is one of the best ways to explore the neighborhood. The surprise provides a good candidate for a pint and attracts locals with its freshly refreshed country-chic interior and indie spirit. The dessert hotspot, Peggy Porschen Chelsea, is a favorite of the international set and draws crowds with its beautiful pink, photogenic stylings. Daphne’s is an old school British haunt with an English-garden-inspired conservatory; and the casual, farm-to-fork rabbit is another local Chelsea gem.
What to do in Chelsea:
Chelsea has long been haunted by fashionistas, and shopping – from major luxury brands to disposable stores – is second to none. The neighborhood also has a rich and well-defined art scene. One of the best ways to get on the field is through Cadogan’s new Our Chelsea, Your Way experience. As part of the package, which also includes a night’s stay with breakfast, guests can choose from a range of exclusive and personalized local experiences, such as hitting the shops with a private shopping concierge with plenty of tank stops at Chelsea’s best eateries, galleries and museums. This summer is a perfect time for both shopping and art, as there are plenty of new editions for the area, such as Anya Hindmarch’s new shopping concept (The Village on Pont Street) and art events such as the public art at the K + C Festival, an expansion of Kensington & Chelsea Art Week.
In addition to shopping, one of the most charming things to do in Chelsea is to do as a local and spend a sunny afternoon in the blissfully quiet and well-kept Cadogan Place Gardens. It is a private space for housing only; but if you’re a guest at The Cadogan, you’ll get access. There you can play tennis on one of several courts; Cadogan’s concierge can arrange rackets and balls, or they can arrange a picnic with scones and English sparkling wine by Adam Handling’s own brand to enjoy under the park’s old mulberry trees.
Rooms on Cadogan, and Belmond Hotel starting from £ 556 per. night. Our Chelsea, Your Way package includes accommodation, daily breakfast, picnic in Cadogan Place Gardens, access to tennis courts, private shopping, out-of-hours access to Chelsea Physic Garden and Wander Art (some surcharges apply).