Chelsea is an affluent, cosmopolitan district in Central London known for its posh residents, high-end shopping and popular football club. It started life as a village, and in the 19th century it transformed into a riverside resort and became popular with artists: Victorian painters Dante Gabriel Rossetti, J.M.W. Turner and James Whistler all resided here.
During the 1960s, London’s “Swinging” years, Chelsea and King’s Road was a true hot spot. The punk movement began here a decade later at a shop called Sex run by the Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. By the 1980s it was famed as the haunt of the “Sloane Ranger,” a term for the young affluent socialites who hung out in the area’s most exclusive clubs.
Today, it is famous partly as the home of the 20-something well-heeled cast of E4’s “Made In Chelsea,” a reality television series that chronicles the lives of the new generation of “Sloanes.”
Chelsea is in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and includes the postcodes SW3 and SW10. The former makes up the largest part of the area and lies to the east, while the latter lies to the west.
The area’s northern boundary is Fulham Road and its southern is the north bank of the River Thames. The north-south Overground railway line between Imperial Wharf and West Brompton railway stations is on its western edge. The neighborhood ends in the east a few roads beyond Sloane Street.
An unmodernized flat on an “average” street can cost as little as £800 (US$1,085) per square foot, while a first-floor apartment in a high-end new development can sell for up to £2,500 (US$3,391) per square foot, said Jeremy Creasor, of Hamptons International in Chelsea.
James Pace, of the estate agency Knight Frank in Chelsea, gives a slightly smaller range of between £1,200 (US$1,628) per square foot and £2,500 per square foot. He added that family homes start from around £3 million (US$4.07 million) and one-bedroom flats can cost as little as £500,000 (US$678,228).
While there are many lovely enclaves in Chelsea, the Boltons Conservation Area is considered one of the most desirable. At its heart lies The Boltons, probably the area’s most prestigious address comprising two adjoining crescents of white stucco period houses arranged around a garden square. Tregunter, Gilston and Hollywood roads are also highly desirable. Most homes on these roads range between £20 million and £50 million (US$27 million and US$68 million) but some can go for more than £80 million (US$109 million), according to Mr. Creasor.This 8,000 square foot refurbished townhouse on Tregunter Road is currently asking for £26 million ($35.3 million).
STRUTT & PARKER
But since the peak of the market in 2014, prices have fallen in Chelsea by 16%, according to Mr. Pace. The slowdown started with stamp-duty tax reforms in April 2015 and April 2016 but worsened after the Brexit vote in June 2016.
Mr. Creasor said that the busiest part of the market for his office are one- to two-bedroom flats priced under £1 million (US$1.4 million). “It used to be between £1 million and £3 million six to seven years ago,” he said. “People are spending less on property and buying less frequently.”
The market picked up toward the end of last year, with agents reporting a recovery in sales transactions, which, they say, can be attributed to prices becoming more affordable and decreases in the value of the pound.
Single-family houses and conversions dating from the Georgian and Victorian eras are the main type of property in Chelsea. In addition to period houses, there are purpose-built flats in period mansions, 1960s apartment buildings and new high-end apartment developments.
Many homes have attractive red brick facades and charming settings: some hidden from view along narrow lanes, others line elegant private garden squares and have views of the River Thames.An interior view of a five-bedroom Chelsea townhouse listed for $35.3 million
STRUTT & PARKER
What Makes it Unique
An established hub for art and design, with internationally known boutiques, nightlife spots and fine-dining restaurants and an eclectic mix of residents ranging from fine artists to bankers, Chelsea is an interesting, diverse—albeit expensive—place to live.
This highly-polished part of London still has character, charm and a village feel. In addition to its rich range of shops and restaurants, it has many good schools and the green spaces of the Chelsea Physic Garden, while Hyde Park and Battersea Park are a short walk away.
Mr. Paces describe Chelsea as a “suburb within central London” and says that unlike other areas in prime central London, the area has a community feel because most residents live here year-round. The people who live here could live anywhere they like, but they chose to live here, said Charlie Bubear, head of Savills in Chelsea. “They want to live here for the sport, culture, shops,” he said. “It’s a lifestyle purchase.”
The Sloane Square end of Chelsea is well-connected and easily accessible. Knightsbridge is close and Victoria railway station is a couple of Tube stops away, where services to Gatwick airport take about half an hour, while access to the West End is good.
SW10 is not as well served by Tube and railways stations, but it does have the Overground stations of Imperial Wharf and West Brompton.
The King’s Road’s eclectic offerings including a number of interiors shops such as the British brand India Jane, Designers Guild and the British heritage brand Osborne and Little, which specialises in fabric and wallpaper, while Sloane Street has stores by designer brands such as Versace, Prada, Dior, Chanel, Chloe and Missoni.
King’s Road also has fashion stores such as the World’s End boutique, Lululemon Athletica and Anthropologie; posh food and wine stores such as the British chocolatiers Rococo Chocolates and Blanco and Gomez wine merchants; and beauty company Space NK.
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Duke of York Square, a traffic-free shopping area and square, includes the Saatchi Gallery, which has a bounty of contemporary art, and the Taschen bookshop, while Sloane Square is home to Peter Jones department store.
The area also has an excellent range of restaurants, which include the three Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, the two Michelin-starred Claude Bosi at Bibendum, Ivy Chelsea Garden, Rabbit, Bluebird, Polpo, Dinings SW3, Villa Mamas and Rufus Pucci Pizza.
Trendy drinking spots include the King’s Road cocktail bar Juju, the historic pub The Cross Keys, private members’ clubs Chelsea Arts Club and Raffles, and the clubhouse-style pub The Phene, where members of the “Made in Chelsea” gang hang out.
Top independent schools in the area include Cameron House School, a co-ed pre-prep school for students aged 4 to 11; Falkner House Brechin Place, a school for girls between the ages of 4 and 11 and a co-ed nursery for children aged 2 to 4; Redcliffe School, a co-ed school for students aged 2-½ to 11; and The Hampshire School Chelsea, a prep school for students aged 3 to 13.
Nearby South Kensington has Imperial College London and French Lycee, a French co-ed primary and secondary independent day school.
Who Lives There
Mr. Creasor said that 50% of homes sold through his office are bought by overseas buyers.
The majority of international types come from mainland European countries such as France, Germany and Italy, he said.
The area attracts the high-net-worth, upwardly mobile discretionary buyers from the U.K. and abroad, Mr. Bubear said, adding that they typically work in the legal and finance sectors.
There are working singles, couples and families, along with retired couples and wealthy students, as there are prestigious universities in the area.
Chelsea is a star-studded neighborhood. According to local agents, it is home to former Chelsea and England player Frank Lampard and his television presenter wife Christine; actors Hugh Grant, Elizabeth Hurley and Rowan Atkinson; socialite Pippa Middleton; “Made in Chelsea” pals Spencer Matthews and Jamie Laing; and singer and actor Donna Air.
The historic Thameside street of Cheyne Walk has been home to a roster of famous names: writers George Eliot, Hilaire Belloc and Elizabeth Gaskell and suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst. Rolling Stones band members Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and Russian billionaire and owner of Chelsea football club Roman Abramovich have all lived on the road.
Mr. Pace thinks prices in Chelsea will stay level over the next 12 months. It’s been difficult since 2014, but the market has improved, with competitively priced properties attracting multiple bids, he added.
Mr. Creasor agreed, saying that the property market will be fairly flat for the rest of the year and following two years. It’s now two years after Brexit and the future is still no clearer for buyers and sellers, he said. “It is expected that prices will increase by 10% in three years’ time.”
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