The best hotels in Chelsea cluster at Sloane Square, home of the superb Royal Court Theatre and location of the district’s most convenient tube. A handful more are scattered near the King’s Road, famously cool in the 1960s but now more septuagenarian than Swinging, whatever the Made in Chelsea toffs might say. Decades of gentrification mean you’ll dine well – Gordon Ramsay for a blow-out, Medlar for affordably excellent nosh – but the shopping is pricy and unexciting: the Shop at Bluebird and John Sandoe bookshop are notable exceptions. Attractions include the Saatchi Gallery, the delightful Chelsea Physic Garden and, for football fans, Chelsea’s home ground. This is our selection of the best hotels in Chelsea.
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The best hotels in Chelsea
On a private square near focal Sloane Square, this hotel occupies one of the tall red-brick mansion blocks that are typical of Chelsea. Smartly conservative in style, it’s all dark-wood and atmosphere in the public areas, but a recent refurb has given the guestrooms plenty of air. Settle by the fire for tea in the Drawing Room, leaf through the newspaper in the library or take the sun in the rear conservatory. The concierges are bang on their game.
Run by the Sloane Club (you don’t have to be a member to stay), these daily serviced apartments just south of Sloane Square combine designer kitchens for the independent-minded with in-apartment catering from the club’s kitchens for the bone-idle. The decor is clean-lined but slightly cold, albeit with flamboyant touches, supremely comfortable beds and bathtubs as well as showers. A welcome basket of essentials – tea, cereal, milk and biscuits – ensures late arrivers aren’t stranded.
Back in the mists of boutique hotel history – 1978, thanks for asking – Anouska Hempel opened Blakes, whose dramatic, orientalist decor still holds up well. The style varies between rooms, with antiques from Hempel’s global travels giving each a unique national character: decor runs from blue-and-white stripes like a kid’s sailor-suit to passionate red Louis XIV velvets or life-size Asian portraits. The restaurant, serving Mediterranean dishes since it reopened in summer 2016, remains the soul of discretion.
Another converted red-brick Edwardian mansion within shouting distance of Sloane Square, the Draycott stands out by providing access to its garden square – a real bonus in an area where much of the charming green space is gated. The hotel is handsomely tricked out with rich fabrics, period antiques and mod-cons like wifi and satellite telly. Pop into the drawing room in the afternoons for free tea and biscuits or, after 6pm, a glass of champers.
You can’t sleep much closer to a football match than at this pair of hotels within the perimeter of Stamford Bridge stadium. They’re perfectly serviceable business hotels during the week – few frills, predictable but inoffensive decor, and competently run – but with the perk for adult guests of access to the club members’ swimming pool, gym and sauna. The location is good for regular tourists, but of course match-day packages are the real draw.
The Sloane Square branch of this boutique hotel mini-chain has a more pastoral aesthetic than its more rigorously minimalist brethren – think floral touches and feminine colour schemes with velvet cushions. It’s a neat match-up of business efficiency and shopping stop-off. There seems to have been a drift away from the original feng shui concept of the chain, but there’s an appealing crispness to both the smartly tiled bathrooms and the relaxed My Kitchen café-restaurant.
Interior designer Sue Rogers’ legacy is all over the San Domenico, another Sloane Square red-brick residence but one whose makeover was a masterclass in period-style flamboyance. The guestrooms all mix antiques and original furnishings, their portraits of royalty and nineteenth-century knick-knacks dressed with appropriate fabrics and enhanced by modern bathrooms and tech touches, including wifi. Some rooms have little balconies and there’s a lovely coffee room by the lobby. The split-level gallery suites are especially impressive.
These Grade II-listed townhouses in yellowish London brick not only buck the Chelsea trend for converted red-brick mansion blocks, but are also nearer the King’s Road than Sloane Square. The decor is fresh and confidently underplayed, with vigorous splashes of modern art. The fifth-floor attic room is particularly desirable: a decked terrace is surrounded by greenery – not quite a ‘roof garden’, but good views; one deluxe room has its own balcony, with a little sitting area.
‘Rooms above a pub’ can cover a multitude of accommodation sins, but when you’re this close to Sloane Square you can expect quality. The Orange is not only a fine gastropub, but a beautifully executed B&B comprising four big, airy first-floor rooms, with decor that might best be described as rural luxe: stripped wood and bow-leg bedside tables, floor-to-ceiling curtains and en suite bathrooms, 32-inch flat screens and DAB radios softened by potted plants. The bar provides room service.
Want to see where Chelsea went after the punks left the King’s Road? The Chelsea Harbour development – technically in Fulham – might be a start: it’s a 1980s riverside complex with a marina and this five-star chain hotel. Guests get a lot of space (for London) in rooms that are neatly split into bed and living areas, as well as use of the swimming pool, treatment rooms and gym. The river views really are quite something.
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