Update: Chelsea in Bloom’s awards have been announced. Congratulations to the following stores:

Monica Vinader, Best Floral Display

Harry’s Dolce Vita, Highly Commended

Innovation Award, Lucas Hugh

For ‘The Insider’s Guide to Chelsea in Bloom’, read my top tips in Country & Townhouse online. 

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Chelsea in Bloom is back and it is bigger than ever with 65 stores, restaurants and hotels taking part.

Inspired by the Royal Wedding, this year’s theme is ‘Summer of Love’ and you will be in for a few surprises.

Stores are transporting Chelsea back to the nostalgia of the 60s and 70s …

… as well as giving us a deeper understanding about who they are. Sarah Chapman’s Chelsea in Bloom is promoting the idea of self-love.

I adore the idea of writing a note to my 13-year-old self and adding it to Sarah Chapman’s love lock bridge.

There is so much beauty around Chelsea at this time of the year; on Duke of York Square, Sloane Street, Pavilion Road, Symons Street and of course, King’s Road. For a map of all the displays, click here.

Free rickshaw rides are available everyday from Sloane Square until 5pm; and 4.30pm on Saturday, while there are plenty of special offers, events and promotions to also enjoy. More details here.

While taking in Sloane Square’s beautiful setting, you can write a message to the royal couple which …

… you can post into the floral heart letter box on Duke of York Square. All the messages will be sent to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Also on Sloane Square, you can donate to Prince Harry’s charity Sentebale, which ‘supports the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people affected by HIV in Lesotho and Botswana’.

Chelsea in Bloom continues until Saturday 26th May and you can vote here for your favourite display from midnight on Monday 21st May. The competition closes on Thursday 25th May at midnight and the winner will be announced the following day.

 

The big day is almost here and for the lucky ones who have tickets, Bluebird will be the place to watch the Royal Wedding on the King’s Road. But if you don’t …

… there are other places to watch the event of the year. Entrance to Chelsea Physic Garden will be free on Saturday 19th May to honour this special day. There will be a limit of 600 people and you will be able to enjoy their delicious menu (kids menu too) while sipping on a ‘Minty Markle’ cocktail. There will be a best hat competition and the chance to learn how to make a flower crown.

Image source: Chelsea Physic Garden

If you fancy going to a pub, then somewhere with a big screen is a must. And of course, The Sporting Page is the place to be. Winner of Time London’s Love London Awards for ‘Most Loved Local Bar or Pub’ in Chelsea, you can enjoy a good pub menu here. This was where I watched the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding.

And if you are planning to watch the Royal Wedding at home but think you’ll want to go somewhere else to celebrate after, Duke of York Square are opening their green for picnics and live music. There won’t be a screen but with the Fine Food Market and anticipated great weather, I’m sure the atmosphere at Duke of York Square will be lively especially with all the Champagne flowing.

I can’t help but think, wouldn’t it be fabulous if when walking along King’s Road, we could stumble upon Harry and Meghan stepping down these steps? Wouldn’t that be great?

Known names that have done so include Patsy Kensit and Jim Kerr in 1992; Wallis Simpson in 1928; and Judy Garland with Mickey Deans in 1969.

Saying that, Tiffany & Co off Sloane Square has to be the most romantic store in Chelsea; I remember my first visit to the store in New York. I was a student back then and I bought my sister a bottle of Tiffany Eau de Parfum because Breakfast at Tiffany’s is one of her favourite films. Today, Tiffany & Co’s paper flowers collection is also making me very excited for next week’s Chelsea in Bloom which will return to celebrate a ‘Summer of Love.’

Across Sloane Square, on Duke of York Square, Partridges will have all you need to celebrate the Royal Wedding; from Champagne (of course) to Harry and Meghan shortbread and tea; as well as …

… Partridges’ Chelsea Flower No.2 bergamot infused gin which has launched to celebrate the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. 

There are also floral cocktails to enjoy at The Ivy Garden Chelsea who are partnering with British bridal queen Jenny Packham in celebration of the Chelsea Flower Show.

So much to get excited about in Chelsea. And if there is more going on that you’d like to share, please feel free to leave a comment below.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Chelsea’s winners:

Most Loved Local Cinema: Chelsea Curzon

Most Loved Local Culture Spot: Saatchi Gallery

Most Loved Local Club or Party: Maggie’s

Most Loved Local Bar or Pub: The Sporting Page

Most Loved Music Venue: 606 Club

Most Loved Local Shop: Green and Stone

Most Loved Local Restaurant: Wulf & Lamb

Most Loved Local Brunch Spot: The Ivy Chelsea Garden

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Except for brief stints in Israel, the US and France, I’ve spent my whole life living in London. There really isn’t anywhere in the world I’d rather live. London is a city I love. It’s home.

So when Time Out’s Love London Awards are back on the radar I’m always interested to see who gets the votes. And because Chelsea is where I have spent most of my life, I am particularly keen on reading about the local hotspots round here.

When I think about my favourite restaurant I would have to say Sophie’s Steakhouse; it’s a home away from home. The staff are always so friendly and welcoming; their tuna steak salad is a favourite; it’s a great place for cocktails or for a family meal with the little one. In fact the list is endless and I consider Sophie’s to be a local institution.

As for my favourite local brunch spot, while I love Sophie’s, I have to also mention Granger & Co. I could sit here all day, people watching and soaking up the beautiful interior. And when the weather is warmer and the terrace is open their outdoor seating in Pavilion Road’s courtyard is a dream.

But what about coffee spots? That’s an interesting one with more new places popping up. But my vote has to go to The Roasting Party on Pavilion Road for quality coffee and great service. I also love their airy upstairs for somewhere to go to.

Time Out’s Love London Awards have several more categories that include (I’ve added my favourites alongside):

  • Local late-night spot – Brinkley’s on Hollywood Road
  • Local place to drink in the sun – Chelsea Farmers’ Market on Sydney Street. Great music, atmosphere and when the sun is shining, the best place to be in Chelsea.
  • Local bar/pub – Hollywood Arms on Hollywood Road
  • Local music venue – Cadogan Hall on Sloane Terrace
  • Local park – Battersea Park
  • Local club/party – Barts on Sloane Avenue
  • Local LGBTQ hangout – Sadly I think the only LGBT pub in Chelsea has now closed down. I might be wrong; please leave a comment below if you have any suggestions.
  • Local culture spot – Saatchi Gallery at Duke of York Square
  • Local landmark – Sloane Square
  • Local shop – Partridges at Duke of York Square

What I love about Love London Awards is it gives us a chance to celebrate local businesses. The ones I have mentioned are just a few I love. I could have also easily mentioned Rabbit, Wulf & Lamb, Hagen or Bread Ahead. In terms of food and drink the last couple of years in Chelsea have been very exciting.

Voting has already opened and will close on 10th April 2018. The winners will be announced on 2nd May 2018.

So if you fancy supporting your local, you can vote here.

I can’t tell you how old I was exactly; perhaps five, six or seven. But the first time I watched a movie in a cinema it was at Curzon Chelsea and the film was Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. My memory of the whole experience is quite vague but I do remember the excitement, some of the images on the screen, a few of the songs, stepping outside afterwards and asking my mother if we could go to the library across the road.

Since my first cinema visit, Curzon Chelsea has been home to some of my fondest memories: watching Grace Kelly in High Society on the big screen with one of my oldest and dearest friends; seeing Ryan Gosling live on stage during a Q&A for his directorial debut Lost River. Needless to say Curzon Chelsea is where my love affair with the big screen started and continues to this very day.

So I am relieved to hear that when Curzon Chelsea closes its doors at the end of March 2018 this will only be a temporary closure.

First opened in 1937 as the Gaumont Palace, this cinema has experienced various transformations. The most recent will be completed in 2022 to allow for a new state-of-the-art cinema with 600 seats across three screens; full wheelchair accessibility (which Curzon Chelsea currently doesn’t have) and improved viewing as well as food and drink experiences.

On top of this the entire block will also be transformed. Waitrose (which is remaining open throughout the works) will be improved; there will still be a large pub next door; new stores and homes (both affordable and market rent) will be built, along with high quality office spaces.

And something I am very excited about; there will be a rooftop bar which will provide a unique view across Chelsea and beyond.

So while doors may be closing at the end of this month, there is a lot to get excited about. This part of King’s Road is not only getting a facelift but there will be plenty of quality reasons to enjoy this area of Chelsea again.

See here for more details on 166-222 King’s Road 

Spring is finally here and as the countdown to Easter begins with the idea of new life being celebrated through endless forms of mouthwatering chocolate, another renaissance has taken place on King’s Road.

The Imperial Arms has had new life breathed into it and one of the last remaining original Victorian pub buildings has been resurrected to a whole new level.

Comfort and style run throughout the pub; making it a very pleasant place to dine. I love the spacious feel and the less awkward layout which I remember from the past.

On top of The Imperial Arms’ impressive makeover the pub’s food, which includes classic dishes, a vegan menu and a breakfast menu, it has James Barlow at the helm of the pub’s team of chefs. Barlow’s experience includes London’s Soho House and Fig & Olive restaurant in New York.

When I popped in for lunch last week I started with the crab and crayfish samosas with mango, chilli and coriander which I absolutely loved.

The OH had the veal carpaccio with mustard caper emulsion, pine nuts and basil.

For main and probably because I was recovering from a horrid cold, I decided to go for a classic; beer battered cod and chips with minted pea purée and tartare sauce which I really enjoyed. There was a lovely twist to the fish which made me feel I wasn’t being too predictable.

The OH also felt like having a classic for lunch so he went for the prime beef burger with raclette cheese, chipotle mayo and beer candied bacon with fries and slaw. He also added a fried egg to his burger. I admit I couldn’t resist a bite and it went down very well.

For dessert we shared the rhubarb on shortbread which was the perfect way to end such a lovely meal.

I’ve visited The Imperial Arms under various ownerships since starting my blog and I do think the new owners have got it right with the food, interior and their very lovely team.

The Imperial Arms, 577 King’s Rd, Chelsea, London SW6 2EH

We were guests of The Imperial Arms.

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