Chelsea began life as a Saxon village some miles from the thriving town of London. But by the 1700's, the area already had a population of 3,000, many of them very wealthy indeed. Chelsea still remained separate from the rest of London as a market garden, providing the east of the city with its fruit and vegetables. In this century it was also known as a centre of silk production, with silkworm-laden mulberry trees lining the paths of Chelsea Park.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is the wealthiest borough in England and contains a substantial number of London attractions. For lovers of retail therapy, a walk along Chelsea's formidably affluent Kings Road should provide you with your fix of gorgeous and original shops, and as many of their very wealthy clientele also live in the area, it follows that it has some of the most exclusive residences in London, which coincidentally are also some of the most expensive in the world. Why not sample the delights of Messrs Prada and Gucci whilst staying at the luxury one and two bedroom serviced apartments at Cheval Phoenix House.
No trip to Chelsea would be complete without a stroll down the King's Road, however Sloane Street leading up to Knightsbridge also has many a shop to break the bank! For art lovers, the Saatchi Gallery houses some of the best contemporary art of our time.
The Apartments have serviced apartments in Chelsea with some beautifully appointed residences in and around Draycott Place which could be ideal to discover this area, while a more affordable option presents itself in the form of the rather historic Nell Gwynn House, which offers modern, serviced studio, one or two bedroom apartments, ideal for short stays in London.
Former residents of the borough include Sir Winston Churchill, the poet T.S. Eliot, wit and dramatist Oscar Wilde, A.A. Milne, the author of Winnie the Pooh, actress Lillie Langtry, Howard Carter, discoverer of the tomb of Tutankhamen and pre-Raphaelite painter Sir Edward Burne-Jones. There's great fun to be had looking out for the numerous commemorative blue plaques.
View our selection of serviced apartments in Chelsea
Chelsea Top 5 - Café's
The Good Life Eatery
A hidden gem just minutes away from Sloane Square station. Sit down and enjoy a superfood smoothie, cold pressed juice, or start off your day with a delicious acai bowl or quinoa porridge. If you find that there are too many yummy options to choose from at once, the café also offers takeaway so you can take the deliciousness home with you. The café does not have any wifi for guests so you can take the time to enjoy some disconnected quiet time or maybe start an interesting discussion with the couple at the table next to you - yay!
Cuisine de Bar By Poilane
The smell of freshly baked bread fills the bright, airy space, which is done out with shelves of produce, a skylight and an eye-catching potted tree in the centre of the room – it’s the perfect setting for a restorative nibble or a catch-up over a coffee and the papers. Good-value bread baskets with various spreads are naturally a top shout, but also look out for the range of Australian-style tartines (mashed avocado on crisp rustic bread spread with Vegemite and dusted with chilli flakes). If you fancy the sweet stuff, there’s also a host of Viennese patisserie, gingerbread, buttery ‘punition’ cookies, ‘spoon biscuits’ and more besides.
A bright, upbeat cafe and takeaway for freshly made sandwiches, salads and artisan cakes. Resident chefs prepare everything on site, from coffees, cakes and breakfast, to salads, artisanal sandwiches and main courses, with dishes available to eat in or to order as deliveries.
Selling anything from root-beer ‘drops’ & Marc de Champagne truffles to Scotch eggs & deli delicacies this is a true treasure when visiting Chelsea. Tucked at the back of the store is a dinky café peddling plates of cheese & charcuterie, plus a curious assortment of dishes ranging from homemade soup ‘served cold’ to organic chicken & mushroom pie or stir-fried rice with tiger prawns.
Blue Bird Cafe
Serving a varied menu composed from the ingredients stocked in the attached epicerie, the Bluebird is affordable by local standards and boasts an excellent location on the King's Road. Grab a table on the terrace in summertime to watch the Sloane Rangers parading past in their faintly ridiculous couture. From weekday healthy breakfasts, working lunches, tiny tea with the little ones, pre-movie night dinner or letting your hair down with cocktails and bites at the weekend; the café boasts something for everyone. Just out from the café is the courtyard and undoubtedly Chelsea’s best terrace spot!
The nearest airport is Heathrow Airport from which there are good transport links into the city by tube. The Heathrow Express is a fast and frequent service into London albeit slightly more expensive. Airports such as Gatwick and Stansted are also just a train ride away.
The nearest train station is Victoria station enabling you to easily travel to and from many other UK destinations uch as Brighton, Southampton, Surrey and Portsmouth. Tube stations serving this area are Sloane Square and South Kensington, allowing you to easily get into The City as well as heading west towards Hammersmith. To find out the location of your nearest station and to plan your journey go to Transport for London’s handy journey planner.
If you're travelling to Chelsea by car we recommend that you check the Borough's visitor parking in order to find your perfect spot and avoid that annoying parking fine!
The cycling network in London is expanding but some areas may still be busy to pedal through, so we recommend that you check your cycle route on MapMyRide before you head off. If you don't have your own two wheeled vehicle we can recommend that you look out for one of London's famous Boris Bikes to rent!
You'll have good bus connections from Chelsea to other parts of London and be able to get into The City easily as well as into Clapham Junction, Waterloo, Shepherds Bush and Finsbury Park. Bus connections around Chelsea can be found on TFL's website.
What to do in Chelsea
Listed below are some of the great places to visit in Chelsea. Click one to find out more.
- Chelsea Flower Show
Held every year in May, this 5 day floral extravaganza is the highlight of the year for many people and is the showcase event of the Royal Horticultural Society. It's attended by around 157,000 visitors each year and takes place on the 11 acres (45,000 m2) of the Royal Chelsea Hospital grounds. If you can get hold of a ticket for the day it's a must-see event.
Billed as the greatest flower show in the world, this is the place to come and see all of the latest trends in horticulture and garden design. Garden designers come from all over the world to exhibit and the floral pavilion is a joy to behold with perfect specimens of flowers from every corner of the globe.
For more information visit: www.rhs.org.uk/Shows-Events/RHS-Chelsea-Flower-Show/2011
- The Saatchi Gallery
The Saatchi Gallery opened in Chelsea in October 2008 in the redeveloped Duke of York's HQ, just a few minutes away from Sloane Square.
This fantastic new gallery space is an ideal environment in which to view contemporary art, with very large well-proportioned rooms and high ceilings. The Gallery occupies the entire 70,000 sq ft building giving the space plenty of room for a book shop, educational facilities and a restaurant and café/bar. It's in an ideal location just off the Kings Road and one of the best reasons to visit is...it's free!!
For more information visit: www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/index.htm
- Colbert on Sloane Square
The prominent site of the iconic former Victorian Oriel building on Sloane Square deserves a destination restaurant and, inspired by the great boulevard cafés of Paris, the Colbert all day brasserie provides it. Open 7 days a week, from breakfast until late, Colbert's three grand rooms with their Art Nouveau touches, easily accommodates not only the patron's collection of art and local memorabilia, but also a lot of satisfied diners.
True to the spirit of traditional French cafés, Colbert, with its prime position next to the Royal Court Theatre, is a perfect spot in which to while away a few hours over drinks, snacks or a full meal.
- Getting around – Chelsea transport tips
Chelsea is an affluent area in central London, bounded to the south by the River Thames.
Although Chelsea does not have its own tube stop, Sloane Square tube station (District and Circle lines) and South Kensington tube station (District, Circle and Piccadilly lines) is the recommended stops to use for Chelsea. Both stations are in Zone 2.
There are also various bus routes available throughout Chelsea.