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Chelsea, London Travel Guide

Chelsea Summary


  • Lively, stylish area with shops, restaurants, and bars
  • Numerous luxury hotels
  • Beautiful gardens
  • Historic buildings, such as Carlyle's House and Royal Hospital


  • With just one metro station, it can be difficult to get out of the neighborhood

What It's Like

Situated along the Thames, Chelsea is an ever-changing neighborhood: It first gained popularity during the reign of Henry VIII, when two of the king's wives lived there, and it eventually became an artists' haven in the 19th century, when the likes of Oscar Wilde, George Eliot, and John Singer Sargent frequented the streets. Though the neighborhood has seen its highs and lows (after World War II, it was neglected for a couple of decades), Chelsea always seems to come back into style. Its often referred to as the birthplace of punk fashion, which Vivienne Westwood made popular in the 1970s, and in the 80s the neighborhood became preppy chic (due to Princess Diana's influence).

King's Road, the former private roadway of Charles II, is the main thoroughfare, which is lined by shops, restaurants, and bars. Though Chelsea is not home to many museums, it has several historic areas where sites such as Carlyle's House (19th-century philospher Thomas Carlyle's Georgian-style home) and the historic Royal Hospital, with its beautiful gardens, are located. To visit other sites, visitors will have to travel to other neighborhoods; with just one main metro station, however, it can be difficult to get out of Chelsea unless visitors rely on taxis.

Where to Stay

Most of Chelsea's hotels are upscale, although there are a few mid-range options. If you'll want to travel outside of Chelsea's bounds at all, you may want to consider staying near the metro station, as there is only one in the neighborhood, making it difficult to get around. Staying near King's Road puts visitors near the lively heart of the neighborhood, where the majority of the shops, pubs, and restaurants are located.

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