South Kensington-Chelsea is a district of central London.
This district is defined as the southern part part of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBK & C). It includes the area south of the Royal Parks commonly known as High Street Kensington and South Kensington west to Earl's Court and Olympia and south to Sloane Square and Chelsea. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens combine to form the largest green space in metropolitan London and provide a real oasis in the heart of this vast city.
South Kensington hosts four of London's largest and finest museums and is also home to the venerable Imperial College. High Street Kensington leads to a long line of shops and department stores, offering a less hectic version of Oxford Street as well very upmarket stores in Knightsbridge. Sloane Street connects Knightsbridge to Chelsea via Sloane Square and is lined with luxury brand boutiques.
Chelsea is a extensive riverside area of London that extends broadly from Sloane Square in the east to the World's End pub in the west and down to the River Thames. The King's Road marks the main thoroughfare of Chelsea.
The whole of the district contains some of the most expensive residential property in the world but is a little more downmarket towards its western edges.
History of Chelsea
Chelsea's modern reputation as a centre of innovation and influence originated in a period during the 19th century when the area became a veritable Victorian artists' colony: artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, J.M.W. Turner, James McNeill Whistler, William Holman Hunt and John Singer Sargent, as well as writers such as George Meredith, Algernon Swinburne, Leigh Hunt and Thomas Carlyle all lived and worked here. A particularly large concentration of artists existed in the area around Cheyne Walk (pronounced Chey-nee) and Cheyne Row, where the pre-Raphaelite movement had its heart.
Following the Second World War, Chelsea, like many other formerly prosperous areas became rather run down and poor. It became prominent once again as an artistic centre, Bohemian district and hot spots for young professionals in the 1960s. The Americans called this period "Swinging London" and the King's Road became the definition of style and fashion and both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones lived in the neighbourhood.
In the 1970s, the "World's End" area of the King's Road was home to Vivienne Westwood's shop ("Sex"), and witnessed the genesis of punk music and style with many Mohawks to be seen on the road against the background of the closed down shops. Thereafter, working class youth culture was priced out of the area and gravitated to Camden, Islington, Ladbroke Grove, Brixton and Brick Lane.
The 1980s saw the rise of the Sloane (archetypally Princess Diana) and the Mohawks gave way to twin set pearls, pink Polo shirts and what an American would call a "preppy". Chelsea seems to have settled into stylish affluence and aspiration and although the 'Hooray Henries' do not try to stand out, their loud braying voices, youth and wealth are hard to hide. They can be seen here in their natural habitat particularly on school holidays when they return from their boarding schools and all stay at a friends house, on the "King's Road, mate".
This is a large district and it is served by a similarly large number of tube stations:
South Kensington (District, Circle and Piccadilly lines). For the museums.
Knightsbridge (Piccadilly line). For Harrods, Harvey Nicholls and other upmark stores.
High Street Kensington (District and Circle lines). For general shopping and Kensington Gardens.
Hyde Park Corner [Piccadilly line). For Hyde Park.
Sloane Square (District and Circle lines) For King's Road.
Earls Court (District and Piccadilly lines).
Kensington Olympia (District line).
West Brompton (District line).
Like most parts of Zone 1 (Central London), this area is well connected by a variety of bus services. Here is a general list of the bus routes serving each major destination in this area:
The most useful buses for visitors to this area are:
9, from Aldwych via Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus serving Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, Royal Albert Hall, and High Street Kensington (to Hammersmith)
10, from King's Cross St. Pancras and Euston Station via Oxford Circus/Oxford Street and Marble Arch serving Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, Royal Albert Hall, and High Street Kensington (to Hammersmith)
11, from Liverpool Street Station via the City of London, St. Paul's, Aldwych, Trafalgar Square, Westminster, and Victoria Station serving Sloane Square and King's Road Chelsea (to Fulham)
14, from Warren Street Station via Tottenham Court Road, Shaftesbury Avenue/Soho, and Piccadilly Circus serving Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, South Kensington Museums, and Fulham Road (to Fulham and Putney)
19, from Finsbury Park and Islington/Angel via Tottenham Court Road, Shaftesbury Avenue/Soho, nad Piccadilly Circus serving Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, Sloane Square, and King's Road Chelsea (to Battersea)
74, from Baker Street via Oxford Street and Marble Arch serving Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, South Kensington Museums, and Earl's Court (to West Brompton, Fulham, and Putney)
211, from Waterloo Station (near South Bank/London Eye) via Westminster and Victoria Station serving Sloane Square and King's Road Chelsea (to Fulham and Hammersmith)
C1, from Victoria Station serving Sloane Square, Knightsbridge, South Kensington Museums, Earl's Court, and High Street Kensington (to White City/Westfield London)
Note that all of these routes use iconic London red double-deck buses except C1, typically operate at least every 10 minutes, and that any travelcard pass is valid for all buses (otherwise, buses are £1.30 per boarding using Oyster pay-as-you-go).
Exhibition Road and Cromwell Road in South Kensington are home to several world class museums and all have free entry, only charging for special temporary exhibitions. They do accept (and encourage) donations if you feel you have enjoyed your visit.
Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), Cromwell Rd, ☎ +44 20 7942 2000 (email@example.com), . 10:00-17:45, F until 22:00. Named in honour of Queen Victoria and her consort Prince Albert, this museum has existed for over 150 years. It contains a huge collection of decorative arts from all over the world and far back in time, trying to see everything in one day would be exhausting. There are regular exhibitions concentrating on a particular theme from Chinese art to fashion designers. Frequently they put on children's activities and late DJ nights.Free/donation.
Natural History Museum, Cromwell Rd, ☎ +44 20 7942 5000 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 10:00-17:30. Probably the most popular of all the museums here and a must see for many visitors to London. Home to no less than 70 million specimens from across all the life sciences. Especially popular are the dinosaur exhibits, the Darwin Centre and the studio dedicated to BBC wildlife personality extraordinaire, David Attenborough. In the 1980s, the Geological Museum was absorbed but is still in a separate building with a separate entrance.Free/donation.
Science Museum, Exhibition Road, ☎ +44 870 870 4868 (email@example.com), . 10:00-18:00. Dedicated to scientific exhibitions and collections bar those related to the life sciences. A number of famous historical machines and inventions are housed here including Stephenson's Rocket. The space exhibits are especially popular. Exhibitions tend to concentrate on explaining scientific principles with working models and there is a strong emphasis on education and attracting children. This includes their very popular Science Nights whereby children spend an evening learning principles and participating in experiments before spending the night sleeping in the museum with the exhibits. Also houses a vast library of scientific and medical books and journals. Free/donation.
The Geological Museum (The Red Zone), Cromwell Rd, . 10:00-17:30. This venerable old institution was absorbed by the neighbouring Natural History Museum in 1985 but still has something of a separate identity. Unsurprisingly, devoted to all things geological with especially popular exhibits on vulcanology and earthquakes and fossils of all types. Very popular with kids and often under-rated. Free/donation.
Carlyle's House, 24 Cheyne Row SW3 5HL, ☎ +44 20 7352 7087, . W-Su 14:00-17:00. Now preserved by the National Trust, this 18th century house was the home of the historian Thomas Carlyle from 1834 and now houses a museum dedicated to his life and work.£2.50-4.90.
Saatchi & Saatchi Gallery at Sloane Square, is prestigious art gallery worth a visit.
Chelsea Physic Garden, 66 Royal Hospital Rd SW3 4HS, ☎ +44 20 7352 5646, . Garden founded by apothecaries in the 17th century to the medicinal properties of plants.£5-8.
Hyde Park, . Nice big green park. The Serpentine is a small lake within Hyde Park, wildlife including a variety of birds, fountains. Rowing boats and pedalos are available for hire. As commonly used, the term also embraces the adjacent Kensington Gardens.
Roper's Garden, Cheyne Walk.
Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, ☎ +44 20 7589 8212, . Since opening in 1871 it has become one of the most famous venues in the UK. It still mainly caters for a classical audience, but it also hosts many other varied events including the odd contemporary rock/pop acts.
The Serpentine Gallery, . A nice free art gallery, near to the lake. Each summer a pavilion next to the gallery is designed by a different architect, which then houses various cultural events.
Speakers Corner. By law, in this far northeastern corner of the park (by the Marble Arch Tube stop near Mayfair), people are free to say whatever they like about who and whatever they like. Worth checking out to see the lunatics and exhibitionists spouting off.
Ecuadorian Embassy, 3 Hans Crescent. Where Julian Assange is holed up.
Chelsea Football Club. See the English Premier League champions ply their trade at their famous stadium, Stamford Bridge (which is actually located in the London borough of Hammersmith & Fulham along with Fulham F.C and Queens Park Rangers F.C).
Cine Lumiere, Institut Francais du Royaume Unis, 17 Queensberry Pl SW7 2DT (tube: South Kensington), ☎ +44 20 7838 2144 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . French-language movies.
Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Sq, SW1W 8AS (tube: Sloane Sq), ☎ +44 20 7565 5000, . Britain's leading national theatre company dedicated to new work by innovative writers from the UK and around the world.
Troubadour Club, 263-265 Old Brompton Rd, SW5 9JA (tube: Earls Court or West Brompton), ☎ +44 20 7370 1434, . 20:00-02:00. This well known music venue has been programming acoustic music since the 1950s when Bob Dylan et al took to the stage. It's bigger now and has gone electric but is still one of the best venues in London for up and coming talent. The musical spectrum is broad. On any night you might catch solo singer-songwriters or full bands. No heavy rock or covers bands though. More recently it has hosted Adele, Laura Marlin, Jamie T and The Kleeks. There is a good menu too but arrive early to get a table. It can get very busy. Well worth a visit.From £6.
Harrods, 87–135 Brompton Rd SW1X 7XL (tube: Knightsbridge), ☎ +44 20 7730 1234, . M-Sa 10:00-20:00. The most famous store in London, favoured by the British establishment and owned by the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Qatar. Fairly strict dress code so do not turn up looking like a backpacker and expect to gain entrance.
Harvey Nichols, 109-125 Knightsbridge SW1X 7RJ (tube: Knightsbridge), ☎ +44 20 7235 5000, . M-Sa 10:00-20:00. Large department store full of designer goods and an excellent cafe.
The Duke of York Square Shopping Complex. Has a range of spacious branches of popular fashion chains, but lacks some of the road's character, however the small adjoining public space of Duke of York square is a welcome place for a rest between shopping, and a popular place to hang out.
The Hummingbird Bakery, 47 Old Brompton Rd, South Kensington (Opposite of the South Kensington tube station), ☎ +44 20 7584 0055, . A nice little bakery with wonderful cupcakes. Try their red velvet cupcake that is incredibly popular with the locals.A regular size cupcake ranges from £1.55-1.85.
King's Road. One of London's smartest fashion streets, having evolved from the cutting-edge of bohemia and innovative fashion in the 60s to a more genteel place to indulge in retail therapy, albeit with a notable presence of trendy young Londoners (including many so called Sloane Rangers). It is a very attractive street that retains the atmosphere of a small town whilst being in the heart of a huge city. There is a huge range of fashion stores from upmarket chains to one-off boutiques, as well as variety of other shops, complimented by cafés, restaurants, bars, pubs and clubs. There is an obvious affluence to the road without any bling or snobbiness. King's Road stretches south-west from here for miles, though the best of the shopping is in the first mile.
Sloane Street. Lined with high-end designer label stores.
There is no really such thing as budget eating in this part of London, as you would expect - apart from the usual fast food joints on High Street Kensington, there are one or two cafes which could just about qualify.
All these pubs charge about the same and the quality is more or less the same too.
Admiral Codrington, Mossop St.
Builders Arms, Britten St.
Coopers Arms, Flood St.
Phoenix, Smith St.
La Nuova Delizia, 63-65 Chelsea Manor St. Noon-midnight. Quaint Italian bistro offers 18 different pizzas, three risottos, various pasta dishes, gnocchi and other traditional Italian entrees. It’s top-notch food at a great value.
The Pig's Ear, 35 Old Church St, . Lively, old-world style pub/restaurant on Old Church Street. Acclaimed bistro fare and a wide selection of wines by the glass.
The Troubadour Cafe, 263-265 Old Brompton Rd, SW5 9JA (Tube: Earls Court or West Brompton), ☎ 0207 370 1434, . 09:00-midnight. Famous bohemian cafe with a pleasing menu of hearty dishes such as fishcakes, burgers and delicious filling salads. Good wine list too and lovely leafy garden out the back. There is a great little music venue downstairs and even accommodation on the top floor.
Kensington Creperie (Cafe Creperie), 2 Exhibition Rd, ☎ +44 20 7589 8947, . Tu-Su 11:00-23:30, M noon-23:30. A small, cute, often crowded cafe and authentic French creperie, popular with the local French and various other South Ken expats. Given its location near the tube, it is a fine place to sit outside and watch the fashionable young people pass by.£3-8.50.
Sole Luna Pizza & Pasta, 32-34 Thurloe St (Adjacent to the northern exit from South Kensington underground station), ☎ +44 020-75 81 00 98. This Italian bistro-style restaurant offers good food but the prices are too high compared to the rather bad service. The waiters, which change often, are not very attentive and almost yank the plates and glasses from the customer as soon as they have finished. The restaurant can be very busy due to its location, but the service leaves a lot to be desired.£4-25.
Aubergine, 11 Park Walk, ☎ +44 20 7352 3449, . Dinner: M-Sa 19:00-23:00, lunch: M-F noon-14:30. Although it still tries to cash in on its association with Gordon Ramsay (who was famously the original head chef before branching out on his own - see below), Chef William Drabble creates a menu of modern French cuisine and has one Michelin star.
Gordon Ramsay, 68 Royal Hospital Rd (Tube: Sloane Sq), ☎ +44 20 7352 4441, . Lunch M-F noon-14:30PM, dinner: M-F 18:30-23:30PM, closed weekends. The original, flagship branch of the Ramsay empire. You are highly unlikely to find the man himself behind the stove these days, but this triple Michelin-starred eatery deserves its reputation as one of the finest on the planet. The lunch menu is just about affordable, but getting a reservation is problematic. Dress code applies.
Tom's Kitchen. Populist spot for Tom Aikens's aptly named restaurant, albeit certainly in the "Splurge" category, the fish and chips make it certainly worth the difficulty getting reservations and the rather high cost.
Chelsea Brasserie and Bar, 7-12 Sloane Sq, ☎ +44 20 7881 5999, . Modern restaurant/bar at the Sloan Square hotel serving French cuisine. Popular lunch place for people working in the area.
Chelsea Potter, 119 Kings Rd (First pub when walking away from Sloane Square Tube Stop). Traditional pub fare, but when warm outside, best people watching spot around. Also, Aussie and Kiwi barmen solidify the awesome environment here.
Coopers Arms, 87 Flood St. Great pints, including Peroni on tap. Best Sunday Roast around, and more of a gastropub than a traditional pub.
Henry J Beans Chelsea, 195-197 Kings Rd, ☎ +44 20 7352 9255 (email@example.com), . Henry J Beans Chelsea is the first of its kind, situated a stone throw from Sloane Square and South Kensington underground stations on the famous Kings Road in Chelsea.Featuring the biggest beer garden in Chelsea, Henry J Beans Chelsea is a true institution and a great place to relax, unwind and party.
The Hour Glass, 279 Brompton Rd, SW3 2DY, ☎ +44 20 7581 2840. This small, triangular, very easy-going pub just a little away from the main street bustle is a favorite among the locals, above all because the seating inside is designed to prevent overcrowding, but also for its pavement seating and upscale gastropub fare.
The Phoenix, 23 Smith St. Great pints, tremendous place for a pint on a sunny day. be sure to grab one of the outdoor tables and enjoy a cool pint on a hot day here (when not raining in London).
Troubadour Wines, 267 Old Brompton Rd, sw5 9ja (Right next door to its famous sister, The Troubadour Cafe), ☎ 020 7341 6341, . 12:00-22:00. This cozy wine bar is a quieter alternative to the buzz next door. With a great selection of wines from around the world, many of which are not available anywhere else in London, this is a peaceful oasis where you can discover delicious and good value wines. Drink in or take home.
Ambassadors Hotel, . Popular three star hotel situated on Collingham Road between Earls Court and Kensington. The hotel offers 140 en-suite rooms, all with modern amenities. Book direct for best rates and low prices.
Avonmore Hotel, 66 Avonmore Rd, W14 8RS, ☎ +44 20 7603 4296 (+44 20 7603 3121, fax: +44 (0)20 7603 4035), . Close to the West End.
Chelsea House Hotel, 96 Redcliffe Garden (5 min from Earl Court Underground, go to right on Earls Court Rd, the hotel's 50 m after crossing Crompton Rd). checkin: 14:00; checkout: 10:00. The staff is very gentle and helpful. It is clean, and the rooms are all right, they are a bit small, have fridge, a small TV, but no table. The hotel is not nice, but OK. The breakfast is uninteresting, except the coffee, which is awful! But, the tea and the juice are good. It is close to many pubs, cafés and shops. Good place to stay, but lots of traffic.
easyHotel Earl's Court, 42-48 W Cromwell Rd (5 min from Earls Court tube station), (firstname.lastname@example.orgHotel.com), . Guests can only book an easyHotel on the website and rooms are priced on the basis of the earlier you book, the less you pay.
Exhibition Court Hotel 4, 25 Collingham Pl, Earls Court, SW5 0QF, ☎ +44 20 7370 2414 (email@example.com), . Neat and tidy 2-star hotel less than 5 minutes walk from Earls Court tube station. They have a 24-hour front desk. Double rooms with bathroom from around £60 (summer pricing) with basic breakfast included. The rooms are nicer than many of the double rooms in the hostels along Earls Court Rd, for much the same price, although there is no wi-fi internet.
Green Court Hotel, 52 Hogarth Rd, Earls Court (Underground: Earls Court Station (zone 1, District (green) and Piccadilly (dark blue) lines. Rail: West Brompton. Buses: C1 / C3 / 74 / 190 / 328 / 430 / N31 / N74 / N97), ☎ +44 20 7370 0853 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkin: 15:00; checkout: 10:30. Long-established private 2-star hotel around 2 minutes' walk from Earls Court tube station. Well-heated, double-glazed and secure. Telephone and cable TV in room (Sky News, CNN), free wi-fi and continental breakfast.From £45.
Kensington West, 25 Matheson Rd, W14 8SN (tube: West Kensington), ☎ +44 20 7602 9954 (email@example.com), . Refurbished 2 star hotel offering 24 hour reception, wireless internet, and flat screen TVs. From £65.
The Lord Jim Hotel, 23-25 Penywern Rd, Earls Court, ☎ +44 20 7370 6071 (LJH@lgh-hotels.com, fax: +44 20 7373 8919), . One of the best hotels on Penywern Rd, they have 45 rooms ranging from singles to quads. Breakfast is included, some rooms en suite. There is a TV lounge, a 24-hour concierge, and the staff is friendly and helpful. It is clean and the shared bathrooms are not bad at all.Online booking £37 for the booking itself, between £17-33 per person single.
Merlyn Court Hotel, 2 Barkston Gdns, Earls Court, ☎ +44 20 7370 1640 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +44 20 7370 4986), . Lovely and friendly family run bed and breakfast hotel. Totally no smoking. Located in a quiet Edwardian Garden Square. Bright and clean rooms. Family rooms are available.From £35.
St. Mark Hotel, Barkston Gdns, Earls Court, ☎ +44 20 7373 0060, . This hotel offers 25 guest rooms all with private ensuite facilities. Book online for best deals.
The Sloane Square Hotel, Sloane Sq, SW1W8EG, ☎ +44 20 7896 9988, . Modern and stylish hotel with good location in Chelsea close to a great array of shops.
Kensington House Hotel, 15/16 Prince of Wales Ter, W8 5PQ, . Boutique townhouse rooms and accommodation just off High Street.
Montana Hotel, 16-17 Gloucester Rd (2 minutes walk from Gloucester Rd Tube Station). Good standard tourist class accommodation in an excellent area.
NH Harrington Hall Hotel, 5-25 Harrington Gdns SW7 4JB, ☎ +44 20 73969696, . Beautiful old building and useful location- staff were friendly and welcoming
Holiday Inn London Kensington Forum, 97 Cromwell Rd, Kensington, SW7 4DN, ☎ +44 0871 942 9100, . 4 Star hotel near Kensington High street with 906 rooms offering the usual Holiday Inn services
Simply Rooms & Suites, Kensington, 21 Avonmore Rd, Kensington, W14 8RP, ☎ +44 20 3384 4698 (email@example.com), . New 4 Star hotel boutique hotel offering high spec bedrooms in an excellent location off High St Kensington (opened May 2010).
The Leonard Hotel, . Offers central London accommodation from grand suites to individually decorated bedrooms near the shops of Oxford Street and Bond Street and local attractions.
The Beaufort Hotel, 33 Beaufort Gdns, . A privately owned small boutique hotel close to Harrods and Harvey Nichols offering first class service and contemporary style.
The Berkeley, Wilton Pl, Knightsbridge, ☎ +44 20 7235 6000, . Five star luxury hotel. Individually designed suites and rooms. Features Marcus Wareing's restaurant and fine afternoon tea in London at the caramel room.
Blakes Hotel, 33 Roland Gdns, . A fashionable small couture luxury hotel respected for client privacy.
Cadogan Hotel, 75 Sloane St, ☎ +44 20 7235 7141 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +44 20 7245 0994), . Cadogan is a classic Edwardian townhouse hotel, provides comfortable elegant five star hotel accommodation and service.
K+K Hotel George, 1-15 Templeton Pl (tube: Earls Court), ☎ +44 20 7598 8700 (email@example.com, fax: +44 20 7370 2285), . 154 rooms and free wireless (and wired) internet access. The hotel is also right next door to Earl's Court exhibition center.
La Reserve Hotel Chelsea, 422-428 Fulham Rd, . Spacious hotel offering 43 en-suite bedrooms. The hotel overlooks Chelsea Football Club.
myhotel Chelsea, 35 Ixworth Pl. On a quiet residential street on the doorstep of fashionable shops and minutes from South Kensington and King's Rd.
No. 11 Cadogan, 11 Cadogan Gdns, Knightsbridge, ☎ +44 20 7730 7000, . This designer hotel and private club is London's finest couture space with its beautiful facilities and impeccable service.
Astons Apartments, 31 Rosary Gdns, South Kensington (tube: Gloucester Rd), ☎ +44 20 7590 6000 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +44 20 7590 6060), . They have 54 self contained apartments of both standard and executive style set within three Victorian town houses. All apartments are en-suite and have either kitchenette or kitchen facilities. Wireless internet access available at cost.Single studio apartments £65, twin studio £95, four person executive £165.
Troubadour Garret, 267 Old Brompton Rd, sw5 9ja (tube: Earls Court), ☎ +44 20 7370 1434, . checkin: 14:00; checkout: Noon. A luxury one bedroom apartment nestled at the top of the Troubadour Cafe and Club in Earls Court. Despite the close proximity to all the action and buzz of the cafe downstairs, the accommodation is quiet and tranquil. The most important feature of The Garret is a very large and comfortable Philippe Starck double bed (2.5m square). Antique furniture, a double sofa bed, high powered shower and free WiFi internet connection. There is a small kitchenette if you would like to cook, and breakfast items can be stocked in the fridge. More likely you will want to go downstairs to the cafe for a properly filling breakfast or brunch. Room service also available.£175.
York House Luxury Studio Apartments London, Philbeach Gdns, Earl's Court (Close to Earls Court Exhibition Centre and Earl's Court Tube Station), ☎ +44 20 7370 6648, . Offers tastefully designed studio apartments with private shower and kitchenette facilities.
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