Chelsea, home to the annual Chelsea Flower Show, is an area bounded to the south by the River Thames. Its northern boundary is more difficult to define: it merges into Knightsbridge and South Kensington, but it is safe to say it stretches as far as Fulham Road, with its myriad bars and restaurants on the stretch known locally as “The Beach”. Nowadays Fulham Road is far smarter (and quieter) than Chelsea’s main artery, the King’s Road, which is home to a wide range of high street stores. To the west is Chelsea Harbour, and to the east Lower Sloane Street forms the boundary with Belgravia.
The area, made famous in The Swinging Sixties, has a self-contained air. It has its own department store (Peter Jones on Sloane Square), almost a way of life as much as a supplier of goods. You need not leave the area to be fed or entertained; restaurants abound, and it has its own acclaimed theatre (the Royal Court) and is home to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (based at the Cadogan Hall). Away from the King’s Road, Chelsea keeps the villagey ambience that Fulham and such places aspire to but never quite attain.
Even as a rural village, the area was a magnet for the wealthy and today it offers a wide array of elegant garden squares, pastel-painted terraces, elaborate mansion blocks and a handful of superb Georgian houses, some of which overlook the river. Although Chelsea lacks a tube station, they surround its borders, and the neighbourhood boasts some excellent private schools.