If there’s one thing the London area of Chelsea is famous for, it has to be retail therapy – in fact, when combined with the neighbouring (and just as sophisticated) district of Knightsbridge, it makes for retail heaven. For this is where you’ll find the most stylish and exclusive boutiques, the grandest and most opulent department stores and the most lavish fashions, fabrics, treasures and trinkets imaginable – all in extraordinary environs full of Regency and Victorian architecture and luxury suites London…
Simply one of the most legendary streets in the world, ‘The King’s Road’ will probably forever be most associated with the Swinging Sixties scene that revolved around the pulsating mod culture that segued into psychedelic vibrancy in the mid-late 1960s, when boutiques like Biba and Granny Takes a Trip were among the hottest things on Planet Earth. That said, the thoroughfare’s reputation for attracting freewheeling young ’uns returned a decade later when both the punk-informed fashionwear shop Let It Rock and iconic designer Vivienne Westwood’s outlet opened (the latter’s still there, at least in a 21st Century version). Nowadays, the atmos of rebellion and the vibe of ‘anything goes’ may have been replaced by smooth sophistication and designer brands, but the boutiques are no less cool, cutting-edge and must-see (and must-buy-from, if you can afford it). Moreover, there’s the renowned Cath Kitson and Heal’s homeware outlets, as well as the high-quality Peter Jones department store at Sloane Square.
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From one of the most famous shopping streets in the world to possibly the most famous shop anywhere on the globe; yes, it’s fair to say that Harrods’ reputation for luxury shopping precedes it. Known as much for its experience as for its wares (this is the Buckingham Palace of departments stores and no mistake), it’s 160-plus years-old, features seven floors of 330 separate departments and 27 restaurants, all ensuring that it really does cross the gamut – stocking the absolute finest in food, fashion, homeware and technology. Perhaps most appealing of all, though, may be its womenswear department, Superbrands, where you’ll find the toppest-of-the-top-of-the-range brands that are Dior, Prada and Valentino. Who could ask for more! The odd bargain? Er, well, everybody should be able to afford a Harrods shopping bag, at least.
Now if one, single luxurious shop (albeit one of the size and scale of Harrods) isn’t enough for you, how about an entire retail street devoted to the most upmarket shopping imaginable? That’s what you get in the shape of Sloane Street, just down the road from the aforementioned store. As exclusive as it is long (stretching from Knightsbridge to Sloane Square), this is the ideal destination for an afternoon of sheer self-indulgence, should you be staying at sophisticated accommodation nearby like the San Domenico House hotel. Because it’s essentially a catwalk of luxury brands, each delivered in its own dedicated outlet – there are flagship stores for everything from Giorgi Armani to Tom Ford, Saint Laurent to Roberto Cavalli and Salvatore Ferragamo to Gucci. And, should you be not so much in a buying as a strolling mood, just breathe in the splendour and opulence; practically every store’s interspersed with an exceedingly expensive and elegant townhouse, the whole offering then truly oozing pedigree as well as heritage.