Wonderful watering holes: Chelsea and Kensington’s essential pubs

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London likes nothing more than to go searching for elegant beer gardens and outside spaces that are suntraps for soaking up the rays, while imbibing and socialising – and, again, in the winter months, the best of those watering holes provide ample shelter from the cold and fine environs in which to enjoy a traditional ale or cool cocktail. And, don’t doubt it, for those staying at accommodation in Chelsea London, the Chelsea and Kensington area’s absolutely blessed with its fair share of excellent pubs…

The Trafalgar

(200 King’s Road SW3 5XP)

As with all the venues on this list, The Trafalgar’s a regular haunt of many residents and visitors to the Chelsea area that’s located on (or just off) the King’s Road. Its big draw might well be its retro-glamorous interior, offering up a plethora of bold colours, velvet curtains and plush-to-the-max booths. In the warmer months, though, it’s the secluded, patioed beer garden in the back that peeps make a beeline for. Stocking a good range of beers, wines and spirits, you’ll also find there’s rotating ales and decent gastro food as well.

The Phene

(9 Phene Street SW3 5NY)

One of the area’s classic pubs, The Phene’s been going since the mid-19th Century (that’s the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign). Featuring today a sophisticated interior with a serenely light colour scheme, a generous helping of lounge sofas around tables and a trellis arch sporting flourishing greenery; it’s perfectly matched by its fine outdoor garden that’s open for relaxing in all-year-round. There’s also the upmarket, excellent food to enjoy; the place’s signature dish being the must-try lobster and chips.

The Jam Tree

(541 Kings Road SW6 2EB)

Owner of one of the best beer gardens you’ll find anywhere in the capital, Chelsea’s Jam Tree is a perfect spot for alfresco imbibing during the day or evening in the spring/ summer/ early autumn months, thanks to its expansive outdoor space, blessed with a BBQ, terrific cocktail menu and, of course, the requisite outdoor heaters – don’t miss the free hog roasts hosted at the venue every second Thursday from early June to the end of August. On those days, arriving early enough so you can secure a space for you and your partner/ party (no doubt staying nearby at the likes of the San Domenico House hotel Chelsea hotel) will be your chief concern.

The Anglesea Arms

(15 Selwood Terrace SW7 3QG)

Charismatic and old-fashioned – and, frankly, for good reason – this place remains hugely popular, not just because of its efficiently run modern-day rotation of quality ales and lashings of Pimms servings in the summer, but also because of its historical past; being the favoured watering hole, reputedly, of both the literary greats that were Charles Dickens and DH Lawrence. Nowadays, it’s a hang-out of choice for the fashionable South Kensington set (among them many a young professional, as you’d imagine), so it’s particularly attended for post-office-day drinks.


(350 King’s Road SW3 5UU)

An always favourite, it seems, with the denizens of Chelsea as well as guests to the area, the erstwhile Bluebird has actually increased its reputation in recent times owing to the high-class renovation of its summer terrace; nowadays you’ll find it clad in an elegant grey-paved flooring, while the looks topped off by glorious green shrubbery. Perfect not just for decent pub grub and cocktails but lots of people-watching too.

The Imperial

(577 King’s Road SW6 2EH)

Another Victorian-era building is home to another fine Chelsea public house in the shape of The Imperial; both timelessly elegant inside and out. Indeed, in the summer months its beer garden makes for an irresistible suntrap and, come the ever, an equally pleasant locale to tuck into a high-quality pub-grub meal. Indoors, the décor’s Ibiza-esque but it totally works, not least because, along with it, there’s a decidedly chilled atmos. Meanwhile, the food served here’s seasonal and thoroughly locally sourced, with always a sufficient number of sharing-style dishes. Scrumptious.