Why San Domenico House hotel defines the English ethos of Chelsea

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San Domenico House View
San Domenico House View

Chelsea and San Domenico House; the two go together like peas in a pod. Or, at least, we think so. And we’re sure, if you choose to stay with us for a short-break, you’ll readily agree. Fundamentally for us, that’s because our hotel’s appearance, atmosphere and whole ethos fits the area in which it sits like a glove.

San Domenico House hotel Chelsea is elegant on the outside and just so inside, yet with a touch of luxury and indulgence to its interiors – but not too much. We like to think that as a boutique hotel, we’re a very private establishment, with our beautifully appointed but restrained total of 19 rooms; a true home away from home then for our guests, whatever the time of year and from wherever they hail in the world – thanks in part too to the outstanding service we pride ourselves on and our, well, very English approach to running a boutique hotel in the bustling, very international UK capital.

And we also feel that’s much like the district in which we’re located. Chelsea is very aspirational, extremely elegant and has flashes of style and cultural resonance informed by its impressive history, but for all that it’s a very English place too. It couldn’t be located in any other city – or any other country – in the world.

Historical significance

Although the area certainly hasn’t always been part of London, its association with the capital and significance dates back almost an entire millennium. For, the medieval manor house after which the district was named (the ‘Manor of Chelsea’) actually predates the Domesday Book, which was written, of course, shortly after the Norman Invasion of 1066.

Eventually, the manor passed into the ownership of legendary 16th Century, Tudor monarch King Henry VIII, which saw two of his wives (Anne of Cleves and Catherine Parr) live there; while Queen Elizabeth I, in part, grew up within its walls. Meanwhile, nearly a century later, King James I established a theological college on the site of what would become the Chelsea Royal Hospital, which itself was established by his grandson, King Charles II – after whom, in fact, modern Chelsea’s major thoroughfare, the King’s Road, was named.

Today’s Chelsea

Indeed, like our very own hotel, two of the most iconic buildings that stand in today’s Chelsea are defined by the innate beauty and elegance of their interiors, but also their Englishness. Indeed, the aforementioned Royal Hospital was designed by the giant of Restoration era architecture, Sir Christopher Wren, and is the residence of ageing ex-servicemen and -women, ensuring it’s where the iconic figures of British public life that are the ‘Chelsea Pensioners’ (instantly recognisable by the red coats of their ‘uniforms’) call home. Meanwhile, the former Chelsea Town Hall, a building in grey stone of neo-classical design, which always warrants more than a second glance, contains a number of exquisite frescoes inside.

Finally, no mention of modern Chelsea would be complete without comment on the role the area played in the ‘Swinging Sixties’, when, along with the likes of Carnaby Street, it helped Central London – and, by extension, the nation at large – feel like it was at the centre of the world; certainly in terms of popular culture. Offering boldly vibrant fashion boutiques, nightspots and a style that seemed to blend the then dynamic and modern with old-school Englishness, it was a haven for movers and shakers like the bands The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, the actors Michael Caine and Terence Stamp and the models Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy. And, yes, it’s this very English, cultural heritage of the area that, of all the hotels in Chelsea UK, we believe San Domenico House undoubtedly defines. And we think you will too.