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The Queen’s grocers, vintage boutiques and a secret speakeasy: it’s the best bits of Chelsea

Posted at 10:15 am, May 30, 2015 in Arts & Entertainment, Food & Drink, Fun London, Music & Nightlife
Royal Court Theatre, 2004

Even the unlanded can have a ball in London’s swishest neighbourhood.

Chelsea? That’s no place for a pauper like me.

Chelsea has plenty to offer the common man, it’s not all toffs and tiaras. Just check out The Royal Court Theatre, a hard-hitting theatre in well-heeled Sloane Square, known for showcasing new British talent and putting on some of Theatreland’s edgiest shows.

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Yeah, all right, but it’s all Uggs and frappuccinos, innit?

Not at all. King’s Road was the home of alternative culture during the punk era, with Johnny Rotten auditioning for The Sex Pistols in the shop that used to be called Sex, but is now home to Vivienne Westwood’s eccentric outlet World’s End. Also worth checking out is The Shop at Bluebird, a concept store inspired by the local boutiques of the ’60s and ’70s.

Paul Winch-Furness / Photographer

Photo: Paul Winch-Furness

Okay, where can I get something to eat?

The Bluebird is also a restaurant, and it will be screening Wimbledon matches in its courtyard this summer. Or try The Ivy’s new ‘little sister’ restaurant The Ivy Chelsea Garden on King’s Road: a great spot to enjoy pre-theatre afternoon tea or a slap-up dinner with a healthy side order of people-watching.

Rococo Organic Chocolate Bars

And if I have a few pennies left over?

It depends how much we’re talking about. Take your small change to Rococo Chocolates for some seriously creative confectionery – try the basil-and-Persian-lime dark chocolate bar. Or head to the Queen’s own grocers, Partridges, which holds mouthwatering food markets every Saturday in Duke of York Square, from 10am to 4pm. If you’re hungry for culture, head across the square to The Saatchi Gallery to critique something from one of the art world’s future megastars.

C6708 Chelsea Potter DS Outside Feb 10

How about somewhere to drink?

If you want to make like a ‘Made in Chelsea’ cast member (and why wouldn’t you?), head to The Phene, which is a regular on the show. Otherwise, try The Chelsea Potter, which was a favourite haunt in the ’60s for icons like Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones.


What about some late night partying?

Bart’s is a speakeasy-style bar hidden away on Sloane Avenue, and one of London’s worst-kept secrets. Also try The Jam Tree on King’s Road, which goes into the early hours with bangin’ DJs. But for something a bit more rocking, head to Under the Bridge, a live blues and rock venue under Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge ground.

(c) Charlie Hopkinson

Photo: Charlie Hopkinson

And if I only do one thing?

Visit the Chelsea Physic Garden on Royal Hospital Road, one of London’s best-hidden and most enchanting green spaces.

By Katie Antoniou, who used to think the Chel Sea was the bit of water between the Med and the Atlantic.