Once home to Christian the lion and referenced in a Rolling Stones song, here’s some more of what makes Kensington and Chelsea so very maaarvlous…
1. Visit Chelsea Physic Garden
The oldest botanical garden in London, Chelsea Physic Garden was founded in 1673 to train apothecaries in the use of medicinal plants. Now you can visit the Tangerine Dream Cafe, a place where you can sit outside or in and order anything from Lavender Scones to Real Ale. If you see children stomping on the grass, fear not, they are simply pretending to be rain to entice the appearance of thirsty worms.
2. Eat at Phat Phuc Noodle Bar
A Vietnamese name translating to ‘Happy Buddha’; this authentic restaurant in a beautiful courtyard off King’s Road will fill you with health and happiness from both the delicious Pho and the brilliant surroundings. You can also buy a Phat Phuc t-shirt (£11.95) or cap (£5.95).
3. Explore colourful streets
4. Take some time out at Chelsea Library
Perhaps one of the most majestic libraries in London, there is not only a wide collection of literature but a fantastic reference library upstairs with numerous desks and power sockets for working. Just watch out for the rather overzealous librarians and their hatred of anything other than bottled water.
5. Discover some Victorian history at Carlyle’s House
A National Trust property, you know this will be a worthy stop off when it re-opens on March 1st. Victorian literary couple Thomas and Jane Carlyle left Scotland to rent this house in the ‘unfashionable’ Chelsea of 1834 for £35 A YEAR.
6. Practise your jazz hands at Pizza Express & Jazz
Of course you would find the poshest Pizza Express in the world in Chelsea. At The Pheasantry there is not only delicious food but live music 7 nights a week. An elegant music venue in the basement of a historic building plus doughballs? Jazzy.
7. Satisfy your inner child at Elfin Oak
If you grew up reading the Faraway Tree or wishing you would someday come across the decadent mice of Brambly Hedge then you will love Elfin Oak in Kensington Gardens, the closest place you can get to Wilfred Toadflax and his epic woodland escapades.
8. Stock up on fresh food and flowers at Pimlico Farmer’s Market
Pimlico Road Farmers’ Market, every Saturday morning 9am-1pm in Orange Square on the corner of Pimlico Road, has everything from seafood from the East Anglian Coast to Lincolnshire Poachers’ unpasteurised milk, butter and cheese. Head to Daylesford just off the square for some delicious toasted fruit and walnut bread with butter (£4) and a cinnamon latte (£3.5).
9. Take in the beautiful pastel colours
10. Feast on nostalgia at Rococo Chocolates
If Ollivander’s did chocolate, they would be sold here. A tiny, hand-made chocolate shop on King’s Road, the walls are packed with chocolate sardines, cigars and quails’ eggs. They are currently stocking a Roald Dahl collection of chocolate bars including Frobscottle & Snozzcumber. Keep an eye out for the miniature Rococo van, a veteran of the Chelsea streets.
11. Become an artist with Pintar Rapido
You can become an artist in a day at the UK’s biggest plein air painting competition and exhibition, the name literally translating to ‘paint fast’. On July 29th aspiring or professional artists will be encouraged to ‘capture the spirit of the city in a day’. The public will suddenly find the streets of the borough dotted with canvases with artists painting a glorious work of art all in one day, before being exhibited and sold on the 30th at Chelsea Old Town Hall.
12. Admire Allister Bowtell’s sculptures
One of the most child-friendly areas in London, Chelsea is also full of subtle public artworks that reflect its familial spirit. Down a side passage on the way to Duke of York Square you will find Allister Bowtell’s bronze sculptures entitled ‘My Children’. A mischievous boy jumping over a lamppost while a girl sits on the side and watches on, they represent the children who had studied at the Royal Military School, a former landmark of the square.
Feature Image: @lyneyh