Charming Chelsea: how to spend your day in this irresistible district

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Chelsea Garden
Chelsea Garden

So, you’ve chosen for your short-break in the UK capital an irresistibly comfortable and elegant accommodation like the San Domenico house Chelsea London? If so, you’ve made a smart choice because before exploring the wider city, there’s so much on your doorstep you can within just one day…

Brilliant brunch venues

Owing to its reputation as one the capital’s most sophisticated districts, Chelsea is – as you may have expected – brimming with brunch spots. Among the very best is The Ivy Chelsea Garden (197 King’s Road SW3 5ED), where you can indulge in lobster benedict and a full breakfast featuring avocado, halloumi, hollandaise, kale, mushrooms, poached egg and potato hash, as well as ‘lunchier’ efforts including steak sandwiches, all in environs blessed by a pineapple fountain, a lily pond and a pair of pergolas filled with cherry trees, fig trees, Japanese acacia, wisteria and evergreen jasmine and exquisite sculptures.

Wonderful watering holes

There’s surely little better during a London visit than to sample in that most essential UK past-time – the pub. But, this being Chelsea, the options aren’t your average mediocre, bland ‘boozer’; instead there’s the restaurant-bar-combo that’s The Botanist (7 Sloane Square SW1W 8EE), which offers a bright, breezy dining space beset with floor-to-ceiling windows, a fine stripped oak floor and, for obvious reasons, a botanical-image display. Or you might try The Phene (9 Phene Street SW3 5NY), a purple-velvet lounge bar that dates all the way back to 1853, boasts both a library-themed room for dining and, ideal for warm days and nights, offers a beach bar-style terrace.

Glorious green spaces

botanical gardens

Should you need a moment or two of repose during your day spent in the area, then you’d find visiting Chelsea Physic Garden (66 Royal Hospital Road SW3 4HS) hard to top. Among the oldest botanical gardens in the UK, it was established way back in 1673 as the city’s Apothecaries’ Garden and, in addition to its quiet and sedate splendour, remains full of fascinating and extraordinary medicinal plants and the oldest olive tree in the country.

Art for art’s sake

Saatchi Gallery London

If you don’t mind a pleasant walk or a quick hop on the Tube, then not far from the centre of Chelsea you’ll also comes across two of the world’s leading modern art venues. Located in the glorious Kensington Gardens, the twin Serpentine Galleries (next-door to one another; W2 3XA) are renowned for their selections of contemporary artworks, as of course too is the Saatchi Gallery (Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road SW3 4RY), which in recent years has moved from the South Bank to its present location and is famed for supporting the very best up-and-coming artists.

Fantastic retail therapy

Harrods

Finally, if you prefer spending a morning or afternoon indulging in the thing that perhaps for the past half-century has defined Chelsea more than anything else, its shopping options, then why on earth not? The stylish and highly fashion-conscious boutiques that line the illustrious King’s Road are maybe more sophisticated than back in the ‘Swinging Sixties’ when this thoroughfare was at the forefront of mod-driven, often psychedelic fashion of that youthful age, but they’re just as exciting and the garments within them just as beguiling. Meanwhile, if you’ve chosen to stay in a hotel next to Harrods, don’t forget that practically next-door in Knightsbridge is a branch of Harvey Nichols and down the road at Sloane Square the Peter Jones department store, which is part of the celebrated John Lewis brand.