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Stay­ing overnight in lux­ury at 11 Cado­gan Gar­dens we dis­cover the cul­tural haven of Lon­don's Chelsea.

Bound, to the east and north, by three of Lon­don’s great­est public spa­ces, Green Park, Hyde Park and Kens­ing­ton Gar­dens and only min­utes away, by tube, from the fran­tic bus­tle of the West End, lie the largely un­spoilt res­i­den­tial acres be­tween Bel­gravia and Kens­ing­ton, with Chelsea at its heart.

THE JOY OF LON­DON is its in­fi­nite va­ri­ety of sights and ex­pe­ri­ences. Like all the most ex­quis­ite works of art or lit­er­a­ture, what you miss (or take for granted) on first ac­quain­tance will de­light you even more when re­viewed on a sec­ond, or even later, visit. First-timers can be ex­cused for con­cen­trat­ing on the ‘must-see’ mon­u­ments, West­min­ster Hall, Buck­ing­ham Palace, Trafal­gar Square and many oth­ers, but are miss­ing out if they think that is all there is to see. 50 years ago, with the 1960s in full ‘swing’, King’s Road, Chelsea was a fo­cal point for fun-seek­ing ‘baby-boomers’ tak­ing ad­van­tage of the re­lax­ing of so­cial, and other, re­straints im­posed by decades of global con­flict and post-war aus­ter­ity. The new free­doms have be­come the norm but echoes re­main. The Chelsea Pot­ter, a pub where the late Keith Moon, un­con­trol­lable drum­mer with The Who, pulled pints when his mu­si­cal tal­ents were not re­quired on stage, is still there,

ap­par­ently un­changed and Sloane Square, spir­i­tual home of the ‘Sloane Ranger’ set and ac­tual home of the Royal Court the­atre, sits at its ter­mi­nus. The depart­ment store, Pe­ter Jones, has been on the square for over 100 years while the splen­did, fam­i­lyrun Par­tridges, estab­lished in 1972, were awarded a Royal War­rant in 1994 as ‘Gro­cers to HM the Queen’. The equally re­mark­able Saatchi Gallery, opened in 1985 to dis­play the founder’s own art col­lec­tion, is only yards away. The Grade 1 listed, up­scale streets and squares of Bel­gravia are the re­serve of the wealthy and pow­er­ful, em­bassies and rows of el­e­gant town­houses abound, some with the as­so­ci­ated mews cot­tages still at­tached, and dis­creet pubs, fine-din­ing and top-qual­ity ho­tels cater to their needs. The same con­ser­va­tion pro­tec­tion ap­plies to Bromp­ton, only a lit­tle less grand than Bel­gravia but still hav­ing that per­va­sive, un­de­fin­able air of easy qual­ity, at the com­fort­ably walk­a­ble north side of which is the re­tail mag­net which is Har­rods, the cap­i­tal’s most fa­mous ‘shop’. A fur­ther short walk to the west to the fa­mous Bromp­ton Ora­tory and the trio of il­lus­tri­ous mu­se­ums, the Vic­to­ria & Al­bert, Nat­u­ral His­tory and Sci­ence, any one of which can pro­vide (free of charge) hours of won­der­ment and en­light­en­ment. This some­what less-trav­elled cor­ner is en­joy­ing some­thing of a re­vival as, weary­ing of the re­lent­less pres­sure and pace of 21st cen­tury life, peo­ple are seek­ing out qui­eter cor­ners to ex­plore. Take a leisurely stroll along the se­cluded streets and mews and around the Geor­gian mag­nif­i­cence of the squares and be pre­pared for a sur­pris­ing side of Lon­don you might oth­er­wise have missed.

Early in the morn­ing in De­cem­ber on the King's Road in Chelsea

Pic­tured op­po­site page: Christ­mas Lights Dis­play on Sloane Square in Chelsea, Lon­don. The modern colour­ful Christ­mas lights at­tract and en­cour­age peo­ple to the street.

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