Like it or not; there’s nothing the esteemed, highly admired district of Kensington and Chelsea is known for as much as shopping. But not just any old shopping. No; the outlets in this part of town aren’t any ragtag stretch of predictable efforts you’d find along a provincial high street. The retail options in Chelsea and Kensington are a fine blend of fantastic fashion-filled boutiques, awesome antiques outlets, exquisite jewellers and specialist food stores serving up delicious concoctions.
That said, when you’re visiting somewhere away from home (especially if it’s somewhere new), time is always limited. You may not be crazy about the idea, but you may have cover this part of London’s heavenly retail therapy experiences via a greatest hits package. In which case, which outlets can you simply not miss in Kensington and Chelsea…?
The King’s Road arguably ‘arrived’ in the 1960s, owing to an explosion of designer boutiques and trend-setting customers. Its legacy continues today; the neighbourhood remaining respectable and rarefied, yet home décor and antiques outlets now stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the boutiques. This stretch of road – originally a private thoroughfare built for King Charles II’s safe passage through town – is still revered for its summary upscale establishments. It runs (west) from the Peter Jones department store and the hotels near Sloane Square to Stamford Bridge, the notorious home of the ‘Blues’, Chelsea Football Club. And it’s not just about the browsing and buying along here either, for people-watching is pretty much a spectator-sport is this part of town – ‘Sloane Rangers’, the young well-off of the area like to stroll dressed impeccably and showcasing the fact they simply couldn’t come from or belong anywhere else!
Nearest Tube station: Sloane Square or South Kensington
(109-125 Knightsbridge SW1X 7RJ)
The choice of fashionistas for many a long year (at least compared to its big rival, that other world-famous department store in Knightsbridge, namely Harrods), Harvey Nicks perhaps owes its popularity due to its commitment to stocking so many designer brand names and their labels. The store, though, has actually been trading for 105 years, believe it or not; and today maintains the traditions of old – its men’s and women’s clothing sections supplemented by home furnishings and a beauty department on the ground floor. Further spoiling of oneself is possible via an in-store salon and a dedicated personal shopper. There’s also a customer restaurant, café and bar on the very top floor; the restaurant alone being responsible for a renowned menu, each dish of which is truly delicious.
Nearest Tube station: Knightsbridge
(81 Fulham Road SW3 6RD)
Finally, this recently new addition to the area’s shopping culture has quickly established itself as a lifestyle design tour de force. Started by designer extraordinaire Sir Terence Conran, its home is a charismatic old building that was once the London HQ for the Michelin company; it’s all cool design and irresistible elegance. Here you’ll come across some of the most beautiful and, at the same time, utterly desirable cutlery, tableware, lighting and furniture you’ll have probably ever seen in your life. Like almost everywhere else in the area, though, prices start high here really and only ever rise, so if you want to spoil yourself, perhaps it’s best to get it over and done with immediately – before you’re tempted by anything, magpie-like, your eyes fall on during the rest of your stay at the likes of San Domenico House hotel!
Nearest Tube station: Knightsbridge