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Afternoon tea, oligarch-approved vodka and a haunted pub: it's the best bits of Knightsbridge

By Time Out London contributor

The fancy (and frugal) treats to be enjoyed in this well-heeled district

Isn’t it all oil-rich sheiks and Tory party donors?

Not entirely. A Sunday stroll down Brompton Road is a pleasure not restricted to the blue-blooded. If you’re getting tired of drinking out of jam jars in grimy east London, the Victorian opulence of Knightsbridge could be the perfect tonic.

Where can I shop?

Where can’t you shop is more the question. Food gadget heaven Divertimenti (Brompton Road) is just the place if you’re craving a chic ice-cream scoop. It’s all about the sea salt chocolate wafers at Rococo (Motcomb Street) and you can browse an array of Castro-approved stogies over at Tomtom Cigars (Elizabeth Street). There’s always Harrods, of course, but if you really can’t afford to spend a month’s rent on a dress, walk a few metres to Octavia Foundation (also on Brompton Road), a lovely little charity shop where Chelsea locals donate high-end fashion and vintage books aplenty.

Can I actually afford to eat?

With the best fattoush in London, Ishbilia (William Street) provides delightful Lebanese food for those on a budget, while the marble floors and hearty pasta at old-school Signor Sassi (Knightsbridge Green) are a fancy but affordable delight. Still, this is Knightsbridge; it’s worth pushing the boat out a little. Head to Mari Vanna (Wellington Court), where the winter-warming Russian menu offers refined dumplings and oligarch-approved vodkas. Partaking of afternoon tea
at The Sitting Room (The Capital Hotel, Basil Street) is also a standout experience.

Where do the locals go for a drink?

Built in the 1700s, hidden away from the tourist hordes and allegedly haunted, The Grenadier (Wilton Row) has a wide selection of ales; regulars include Madonna and Prince William. With its leatherbound books and portraits of the aristocracy, The Library Bar at The Lanesborough (Hyde Park Corner) will make you feel like you’ve gone for a nightcap with Sherlock Holmes. And if you like the idea of sinking a pint where the Great Train Robbery was orchestrated, The Star Tavern (Belgrave Mews) is refreshingly unpretentious.

I’m full. Show me the sights.

Even atheists will give thanks after experiencing Solemn Latin Mass at the Brompton Oratory (Brompton Road). You’re also right by Hyde Park, so why not take in the (summer) outdoor exhibitions at contemporary-art hotbed the Serpentine Gallery (Kensington Gardens)? And, while it doesn’t come cheap, some live jazz at art-deco-styled The Wellesley (Knightsbridge) offers a swell way to end the evening.

By Thomas Hobbs, who wears hoodies to swanky west London restaurants and relishes the reaction.

Fancy a change of scene? Check out the best bits of Hackney Central.

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