London’s Villages: Chelsea

Chelsea illustration by Sarah McMenemy


Chelsea needs no introduction. Affluent, charming, with chic boutiques, historical landmarks, pretty streets and thriving culture. “With its sophisticated atmosphere, Chelsea remains a sought-after destination for London’s elite,” says Thomas Middleditch, JLL residential Knightsbridge and Chelsea sales director.

First impressions

Chelsea Physic Garden
Chelsea Physic Garden

It’s made up of not one, but a series of villages. “The southside of the Kings Road, spanning from Cheyne Walk down to Chelsea Harbour is incredibly sought after, in particular Old Chelsea to the east and the Ten Acre Estate further west,” says Ed Boden, head of sales at Strutt & Parker Chelsea. “Brits and Europeans dominate here, driving the restaurants and boutiques lining the Kings Road. Families head here for the space, proximity to the river, and fantastic schools, all while having access to a buzzing social scene. With Georgian architecture, stucco-fronted houses, and river views, for the few houses that come to the market each year, appetite is strong and sales often competitive.”

Daniel Carrington, head of sales at Savills Chelsea office, notes the “unmistakable sense of history” of this area spanning Beaufort Street to Chelsea Physic Gardens. “It’s not uncommon for large family residences here to be passed down through generations,” he adds. To the west at Chelsea Harbour, enter another world: one of marinas and swanky gyms. William Fowler, director at Dexters Chelsea Harbour says “well-established developments offer apartments for young couples, while glamorous penthouses draw business professionals who value the exceptional security and five-star concierge services on offer.”

The latest development to join south Chelsea is The Powerhouse, the conversion of the former twin-turreted power station. This is Chelsea: the old, the new and the always on the move.

A day out

Design Avenue, Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour


Fitness first

Start with a workout. Chelsea Harbour gym gained fame as Princess Diana’s gym. Get in shape with a PT, or a spot of padel. Prefer a gentler start? Walk along Chelsea Embankment, stopping for a coffee at the Café Pier before visiting the Chelsea Physic Garden, which opens at 11.


Antiques and interiors

Visit the Furniture and Arts Building on 533 King’s Road, where you can explore Missoni, Anthony Redmile and Robert Langford showrooms. Head down to Lots Road, where the power station has been redeveloped, with flats selling in The Powerhouse through Knight Frank. Built in 1904 by James Russell Chapman, it’s now a tranquil haven with gardens designed by Chelsea show gardener, Randle Siddeley.


Lots to do

The L-shaped Lots Road is synonymous with design. Visit Ed Butcher who specialises in mid-century furniture. Find more treasures at his King’s Road pop-up until 10 May. Homeware shop Maison Margaux and fabric shop Nicholas Herbert are worth a look. Stop for lunch at Lots Road, a Victorian pub, or Aegean bistro Sonya on the King’s Road.


Designer dreams

Visit the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour to be dazzled. With showrooms from Colefax & Fowler to MindTheGap, DCCH is a home for the creative. With regular events, find more design inspiration at the upcoming WOW!house from 4 June to 4 July.


Stylish sundowners

After browsing eras of design, sample some of the area’s culinary offerings. Within the Design Centre, the Design Restaurant by Social Pantry is London’s go-to sustainable caterer. Finish with a sunset sip at The Waterside on the banks of Imperial Wharf.

Ask a local: Claire German of Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour

“Chelsea Harbour is an idyllic setting for the Design Centre to call home. With transport links making it easily accessible, our visitors are greeted with waterside views upon arrival.

On a bright day, there’s nothing more uplifting than a walk through the Design Centre with the sunshine pouring through the glass domes.

We have our own on-site cafe and restaurant by Social Pantry for seasonal dining and it has such a wonderful and inspiring atmosphere, you can watch people sourcing for interior design inspiration from the top brands across our showrooms.”

Food & Drink


1 Billing Road

The Fox & Pheasant

Described as a ‘little country pub’ within Chelsea, The Fox and Pheasant is owned by singer James Blunt and his wife Sophia. The pub has retained its name since 1965, having started life as the Bedford Arms in 1846. Part of the Billings conservation area, it has three fireplaces for the colder months. Dishes include skrei cod with baby leeks, cheese and smoked ham hock pie, and vanilla bavarois. Could this be your new local?


438 King’s Road


Owned by Joe Mercer Nairne and David O’Connor, Medlar’s style is largely French, with inspiration from further afield. Using seasonal ingredients from the British Isles and Europe, starters include parsley root velouté and home-cured salmon with a fried tempura oyster, blood orange, fennel, monk’s beard and radish. Meanwhile, sautéed gnocchi and Barbary duck breast with poached quince are popular mains.


5 The Boulevard

Blending Lebanese and Syrian cuisine, Yamal’s impressive wine list includes favourites from across Lebanon, Syria and the Mediterranean. This family-run riverside restaurant’s interiors echo its diverse menu. Try delicious filled pastries and spicy lamb sausages with tomato and pomegranate molasses.


383 King’s Road


Part of the Pachamama Group of restaurants whose other establishments include Zephyr in Notting Hill and Pachamama in Marylebone, Chicama was founded in 2016. A seafood restaurant inspired by the coastal food of Peru and bold-flavours of Peruvian cuisine, Chicama’s super-fresh fish is delivered daily from Cornwall.


114 Lots Road

Creating a menu full of seasonal classic pub dishes, Lots Road was established in 2000. Perched on the corner, find small plates of triple-cheese croquettes and torched mackerel with pickled vegetables and sourdough. For those with more room, large plates range from chicken supreme to Korean fried chicken with gochujang sauce.


Francis Holland Preparatory School

On scooters or on dads’ shoulders, young schoolchildren fill the streets of Chelsea each morning. You’ll spot the distinctive rust and mustard uniform of Hill House School on Cadogan Gardens , which prides itself on its small class sizes and international outlook.

Another family-run mixed prep is Garden House School on Turks Row, where girls and boys take academic classes separately but come together for events and clubs. Francis Holland School Junior School for girls, pictured, is moving to new premises just off King’s Road in September, while senior girls attend Francis Holland Sloane Square.

For boys aged 8-13, Sussex House prep is located in a beautiful Victorian house on Cadogan Square and achieves outstanding Common Entrance results and scholarships. And opened last year, Brighton College Prep Kensington is a short walk away at Princes Gardens for girls and boys aged 2-13 and boasts a forest school in its garden surroundings.

Ask an agent: Robert Green Director at John D Wood & Co

“The oldest parts of Chelsea are found in the borough’s Thameside south. Since the time of Henry VIII, Chelsea has been home to many notable residents, attracted by property fronting the river.

The scene captured by Turner and Whistler is well preserved, yet ever-changing, as the waters’ colour reflects the seasons and the tides. Properties range from historic homes like those found in Cheyne Row, where we have the former home of Queen Anne’s doctor for sale (guide £7.95m) to flats in mansion blocks like Carlyle Mansions, affectionately known as “writers’ block” on account of its many erudite former residents, where we have a fourth-floor flat for sale (guide £4.75m).

Further west, the architecture is more modern; we have a spacious one-bed flat with river views in Lighterman Towers for sale (guide £995,000).”

Chelsea On the market:


Chelsea home

With sweeping views over the Thames and across London, Chelsea Riverview offers one-to-three bedroom apartments and ‘Manhattan’ penthouses. Access to the Chelsea River Club, which includes secure underground parking, cinema room, gym, yoga studio, 12-hour concierge and pet grooming services £699,000-£2.55m. Agent:



Located in one of Chelsea’s most coveted addresses, this three-bed lateral apartment on the second floor (with lift) is in a beautiful mansion building. Guide price £3.45m Agent:



Apartments range from one-to-six bedrooms in this recent redevelopment of the former power station, and offer residents a fitness suite, spa and club. From £1.65m Agent:

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