Includes: Earl's Court, Hammersmith, and Shepherd's Bush.
In the 60s and 70s, Chelsea was a global capital of bohemian art and culture, home to a thriving punk scene and preeminent bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, while Kensington was an affluent district lined with expensive retailers. However, the intervening years saw Chelsea’s rock roots obscured by rows of expensive flats and high-end shops, leaving modern-day Chelsea much like Kensington: better known for opulence than the creative arts.
While Kensington’s main drag of Kensington High Street is lined with upper-crust markets and restaurants, the heart of Chelsea is Sloane Square, a meticulously landscaped public square and fountain which has become so synonymous with wealth that London’s young moneyed set are known disparagingly as “Sloane Rangers.”
During the day, there’s no shortage of trust fund babies and wealthy young locals, who gravitate to nearby cafés and rooftop gardens to enjoy biscuits and tea and remarkable views from their elevated terrace perches before moving on to some high-end shopping on King’s Road. Lots of tourists and students pretend they’re part of the upper crust as they peruse contemporary art at the magnificent Saatchi Gallery, or simply spend the day relaxing on the expansive grounds of Hyde Park. Sports lovers looking to catch the much-loved Chelsea Football Club on the field, however, will have to venture over to the Stamford Bridge stadium in neighboring Fulham.
At night, the Earl Gray gives way to Emmanuel Courvoisier, as party-happy groups with money to burn enjoy a plethora of exclusive neighborhood venues, from swanky lounges to glittering dance halls, all of which guarantee a memorable evening to anyone who gets past the iron-clad door policies.
Despite a reputation for stodginess, Kensington and Chelsea are areas where the party keeps going until early morning – which makes sense considering its residents can probably afford to sleep until noon.
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