From humble beginnings, Chelsea is now one of the most expensive and sought-after postcodes in the capital. The area attracts people from across the globe thanks to its desirability among those who can afford to live there.
The super-prime London postcodes of SW3 and SW10 are doused in luxury, from trendy fashion boutiques on the King’s Road to Michelin-starred restaurants. Oh, and let’s not forget the high-end homes that range from exquisite to the downright ridiculous.
Doing Chelsea on a budget is certainly achievable. But if you want to experience the glamour of being made in Chelsea, and don’t have pesky budgets to worry about, this ultimate guide to one of London’s most exclusive areas is for you.
On a map
Chelsea is located in South West London and is bounded to the south by the River Thames. From the King’s Road, it’s 2.9 miles to Charing Cross. The area comes under The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
The name Chelsea originates from the Old English term for “landing place for chalk or limestone”. As of 1086, records in the Domesday Book show that Chelsea was in the hundred of Ossulstone in Middlesex, with Edward of Salisbury noted as tenant-in-chief.
The King’s Road, named after Charles II, was built to connect his palace in Whitehall to Hampton Court. Charles II is also responsible for the Christopher Wren-designed Royal Hospital, which is one of the many elegant buildings built by Wren.
By the 1960s, Chelsea and, in particular, the King’s Road, became the centrepiece of mod culture and the Swinging Sixties in the UK. It was often frequented by cultural icons such as Twiggy and Andy Warhol.
Renting in Chelsea
The majority of properties in Chelsea are period homes, encapsulated by Victorian cottages and terraces and Georgian houses, as well as a sprinkling of mansion blocks. There is also a selection of modern apartments available.
Some of the more popular areas in and around Chelsea include Sloane Square, the King’s Road and West Brompton. Cheyne Walk, Wellington Square, and Carlyle Square are also in demand with those looking for rental properties.
Homes in SW3 and SW10 are some of the most expensive on the rental market. A one-bedroom property averages £2,640 per month and two-bedroom homes let in the region of £4,000 per month. For those looking for somewhere to live with three or more bedrooms can expect to pay between £9,000 and £20,000 per month.
Who lives there?
Residents of Chelsea come in the form of artists, bankers, barristers, and aristocrats. According to the 2011 Census, there is an even mix of men and women, with the female population slightly higher at 51 percent. The average age of those living in the area is 38.
Chelsea’s central location means getting around is pretty straightforward. Sloane Square has a tube station on the District and Circle lines, while West Brompton provides an underground and overground service. South Kensington tube station is also within walking distance.
Sloane Square and South Kensington stations come under Zone 1, while West Brompton and nearby Imperial Wharf are Zone 2. It’s just under a 20-minute walk to Sloane Square tube station from the King’s Road, however, there is also a direct bus service.
Things to do in Chelsea
There are plenty of things to do in Chelsea, from dining at top restaurants to discovering fashionable boutiques along the King’s Road and on Sloane Square.
If you’re looking for a luxury culinary experience, Dinings SW3 is at the top of the list. The SW3 incarnation is a continuation from the success of Dinings W1 and mixes traditional Japanese cuisine with modern European cooking.
Address: Lennox Gardens Mews, Chelsea, London SW3 2JH
Five Fields is run by chef Taylor Bonnyman and offers native British cuisine from its own gardens in East Sussex. They branch out slightly for fish (from Cornwall), Scallops (Orkney), and Yorkshire lamb from, well, Yorkshire. A fine dining experience indeed.
Address: 8-9 Blacklands Terrace, Chelsea, London SW3 2SP
Fancy restaurants are well and good, but sometimes you need a slightly more low key experience. The Cross Keys is about as regular as it comes in Chelsea and finds itself occupied in a 300-year-old building. Expect to find pub food and creek beers.
Address: 1 Lawrence St, Chelsea, London SW3 5NB
Opened in October 2008, Charles Saatchi’s gallery is spread across three floors that cover more than 70,000 sq ft - enough space for many exhibitions. There is temporary art on display from a range of well-known creators and curators.
Address: Duke of York's HQ, King's Rd, Chelsea, London SW3 4RY
Set on Sloane Square, the Royal Court Theatre is home to the English Stage Company and has a strong reputation for its contemporary showings. Known as “The Writers Theater”, it showcases work from undiscovered, emerging and well-known writers.
Address: Sloane Square, Chelsea, London SW1W 8AS
The King’s Road
It might not have the same aura as it did in the 1960s, but the King’s Road is still a shopping mecca of designer boutiques and the latest fashion trends. There are high-end favourites, as well as unique labels, and plenty of cafes and eateries to stop off at in between the retail therapy.
Moving to Chelsea
If you have the cash to burn, Chelsea Is arguably the most desired area to live in London. Excellent restaurants, fashionable shops, good schools and an understated nightlife scene means there is something for all tastes in the postcodes of SW3 and SW1O.
Main image credit: The Determined Diner