• Recent
  • Popular
  • Tag
Living like a king during Charles III's coronation

Living like a king during Charles III's coronation

Apts93lounge_4310_03...  Apts93bed_4305_03072...

Above: The Apartments by The Sloane Club, top photo, encompass a trio of adjoining Victorian brick mansions. The rooms, above, offer fully equipped kitchens and lots of regal trappings.

Story and Photos By Amy Laughinghouse

LONDON - With the impending coronation of King Charles III on May 6, England’s capital is primed for the pomp and pageantry it does so well, as evidenced by Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee last year. While gold-encrusted carriages and sweeping ermine robes are only dusted off for the most magnificent occasions, London’s poshest postal-codes offer processions of sleek supercars, catwalk-worthy fashions, and famous faces in perpetuity.
No London neighbourhood showcases what it’s like to live like a king and a rock star quite so well as Chelsea, on the north bank of the Thames. Its central artery, the aptly named King’s Road, was built by Charles II in 1694 and remained the monarchy’s private thoroughfare until 1830. In the 20th century, it evolved into an epicentre for counter-cultural cool, where musical legends like The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix reigned supreme in the “Swinging Sixties.”

Hideawaybar_4431_030...  martini_4599_030823        

Above: The Hideaway at Sloane Place has a cozy, speakeasy that's noted for its cocktails.

Celebrities have continued to chum Chelsea’s streets through the decades, with ravenous paparazzi snapping at the heels of high-profile residents like the Duchess of Cambridge, wife of Prince William, who was just plain ol’ Kate Middleton when she lived on Old Church Street near the now-defunct studio where Pink Floyd, Elton John and The Who used to record.
My first encounter with Chelsea’s starry constellation occurred at The Pheasantry at 152 King’s Road back in 2007. Eric Clapton and The Beatles’ George Harrison used to jam in a flat here, and this historic site still houses a music venue, as well as a pizza parlour, where my husband and I stopped for lunch while apartment hunting. When one of our friends offered to help a young father lift his baby’s pram up the restaurant steps, we found ourselves face to famous face with … Matt Damon.
That’s when we realized that we clearly lacked the dough, as it were, to live in these rarified environs. But 16 years later, here we are, strutting down Chelsea’s fabled streets to our apartment.

ChelseaOldTownHallex...  WorldsEnd_4548_03082...

Above:Chelsea Old Town Hall, left, and right, Vivienne Westwood’s World’s End boutique on King’s Road.

Or rather, to The Apartments by The Sloane Club, the iconic private members’ club founded by Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Helena, in 1922. Housed in late 19th century terraced mansions on Sloane Gardens, a stone’s throw from Sloane Square Underground Station, The Royal Court Theatre (where The Rocky Horror Picture Show premiered in the 70s), and The Sloane Club itself, The Apartments provide a luxurious alternative to a 5-star hotel.
These 18 serviced accommodations, ranging from 37 sqm to 102 sqm, don’t quite stretch to bowing butlers or curtsying courtiers, despite the club’s royal roots. But they do offer visitors an innovative way to experience London like a local — a very wealthy local with a 24-hour concierge and in-room spa services.
Our one-bedroom “home” (for two glorious nights, anyway) encompasses the entire ground floor of 17 Sloane Gardens. It’s kitted out with crystal chandeliers, silk and velvet fabrics, one-and-a-half bathrooms, and a kitchen with a dishwasher, washer/dryer, small refrigerator, Nespresso coffee maker, and — the ultimate amenity for this tea-loving nation — a tap dispensing boiling water at the ready. My car-crazy husband is even more excited by what he sees outside our door, namely, Chelsea’s steady stream of purring Porsches, Bentleys, Aston Martins, and a neon-green Lamborghini.
Fortunately, we have no need to get behind the wheel to reach appealing watering holes. We wet our whistles at Bluebird restaurant and café, the Duchess of Cambridge’s old haunts; the Chelsea Potter pub, whose erstwhile regulars included The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix; and the Cooper’s Arms, where we sip pricey pints beneath a disembodied moose head.

RollingStonesalbum_4...  Westwoodmural_4563_0...

Above: Framed albums and music posters of The Rolling Stones adorn the walls of the Chelsea Potter pub, left. Vivienne Westwood, who died in December 2022, is memorialized in a mural on King’s Road, right.

Our favourite meal is an eclectic selection of yellowfin tuna fillet tataki, chickpea and feta wontons, and duck spring rolls at Sloane Place Restaurant, on the ground floor of The Sloane Club’s sister hotel, Sloane Place. Afterwards, we get cozy in The Hideaway, an intimate, subterranean speakeasy beneath the restaurant, sipping cocktails expertly crafted by Eric, our charming Italian bartender. When we finally tear ourselves away, we’re grateful we have only a two-minute wobbly walk home.
If you fancy fast food, the King’s Road McDonalds, with its futuristic 60s facade, has an unexpectedly illustrious history. “This was the Chelsea Drug Store, which The Rolling Stones sang about in You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” notes Mark Barber, a guide with British Tours, who leads us on a two-hour walk. Its shiny, Technicolor interior, sadly long since replaced, also featured as the record store in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.
At 138A King’s Road, Barber points out a plaque above a juice bar which states that designer Mary Quant opened her Bazaar boutique on this site in 1955. “She was the first to call a short skirt a ‘Mini,’ with the name inspired by the motor vehicle,” he says, as a compact Mini Cooper (first manufactured in 1961) rolls by on cue. Further along, at 430 King’s Road, Vivienne Westwood and the Sex Pistols’ manager Malcolm McLaren became the mom and pop of punk fashion at the shop now known as World’s End.   
“People don’t look ‘round at you if you have a Mohican haircut,” Barber explains, pulling a flat cap low over his own thatch of steely grey hair. “There’s a palpable ‘live and let live’ feel here.”

Other highlights of Barber’s tour include curb side stops at Bob Marley’s former home at 42 Oakley St. and the mansions once owned by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards at 48 and 3 Cheyne Walk, respectively. Across the river, the Battersea Power Station, captured on the cover of Pink Floyd’s 1977 album “Animals,” punctuates a grey London sky.
Perhaps the site that has born witness to the greatest concentration of celebrities is Chelsea Old Town Hall. Richard Burton, Alfred Hitchcock, Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski, Pierce Brosnan and Hugh Grant have all tied the knot within its stone and brick walls. “Everyone wants to get married here, because it is so iconic,” says Summra Nasir, who has worked as a registrar for nine years.
One ceremony which took place here actually changed the course of history. On July 21, 1928, Wallis Spencer tied the knot with an ex-soldier named Ernest Simpson. The union didn’t last, and Wallis became entangled with the future King Edward VIII. Their love affair led to Edward abdicating the throne to marry Wallis, and the crown passed to his brother, George VI.
George never thought he would be king, and his daughter, Elizabeth, was never meant to be queen, yet she went on to become the longest serving and most beloved monarch in British history. Who knows what the legacy of her son, King Charles III, will be, but he owes its origin to this Old Town Hall on the long and winding King’s Road.   



The Apartments by The Sloane Club, https://www.clubapartments.co.uk, reservations@clubapartments.co.uk. +44 (0) 20 7730 9131. Studio, one bedroom, or two bedrooms. King-sized beds can convert to two twins. Kitchen, A/C, WiFi, in-room dining, concierge. From £344.


What to Do:

British Tours, https://www.britishtours.com

Saatchi Gallery, https://www.saatchigallery.com Contemporary art.

Royal Court Theatre, https://royalcourttheatre.com

Chelsea Flower Show, https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-chelsea-flower-show - May 23-27, 2023--if you can snag a ticket.

Drink and Dine: The Roof Terrace at The Sloane Club, https://www.sloaneclub.co.uk

Although the club is private, its roof terrace is open to the public. To book ahead, call +44 (0)203 928 0700 or email enquiries@sloaneplace.com

Sloane Place Restaurant, https://www.sloaneplace.com/food-drink/sloane-place-restaurant/







Post a Comment