Things To Do During The Day In Chelsea

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 21 months ago
Things To Do During The Day In Chelsea

If you find yourself at a loose end in Chelsea — and can't stomach any more boutiques or cake shops — take a look at these other ways to while away a couple of hours.

Chelsea Physic Garden

Photo: Laura Nolte

How does a secret garden next to the Thames sound? Chelsea Physic Garden is one for those with serious horticultural interests, focusing on edible and medicinal plants, with 5,000 species on display. If you're just looking for somewhere a bit more peaceful than King's Road, that's OK too — take a wander round the gardens followed by a trip to the Tangerine Dream Cafe, where you can gorge on afternoon tea with lavender scones.

Go looking for colourful houses

Smith Terrace. Photo: Mike T

Chelsea may not be as well-known for its pastel hues as Notting Hill, but it's still worth bringing your camera (and Instagram game) as you wander the streets. Bywater Street, Lennox Gardens Mews, Godfrey Street and Smith Terrace are just some of the streets sporting a spectrum of colour. There are plenty of mews houses around these parts too, which, although not as colourful, are still some of the prettiest/desirable residences in London.

Visit a private art collection

The 2017 selfie exhibition at Saatchi Gallery. Photo: Darrell Godliman

Feeling cultural? Saatchi Gallery — Charles Saatchi's private art collection —  has an impressive carousel of exhibitions; a show about selfies was a recent triumph. It's free entry, and has a bar and cafe looking out onto Duke of York Square. Check out what's currently on.

Attend a lunchtime concert

Photo: Jon Smalldon

Looking for something a little more high-brow? Cadogan Hall is a concert venue in a church, next to Sloane Square. The programme focuses mainly on classic and folk music, with occasional weekday lunchtime performances sprinkled among the evening shows.

Skiing and climbing

Photo: Chel-Ski

Indoor ski-slope Chel-Ski (see what they did there?) sits right next door to climbing wall Clip n Climb, ideal for those with more energy than sense plenty of energy to burn. Take to the mountains in the morning on the treadmill style ski slope, before hopping next door and scaling the walls in the afternoon.

National Army Museum

Photo: National Army Museum

Reopened in 2017 after an impressive three year, £23m renovation, the National Army Museum gives a history of many aspects of the British Army and Armed Forces, including how it has influenced our culture. Find out what the Army does in peacetime and what a soldier's life is like. Look out for items such as a bottle of liqueur set within an elephant's foot and a tortoise used as a snuff box — you've been warned.

Royal Hospital Chelsea Museum

Not to be confused with the Royal London Hospital Museum, the Royal Hospital Chelsea Museum opens on weekdays, displaying items from the 300+ year old hospital, which was formed by Charles II (there's a golden, Romanesque statue of him in the ground). You may well bump into a pensioner as you may your eway around. There's also a shop on site, selling Chelsea Pensioner souvenirs — scarlet coat teddy, anyone?

Do your business where literary greats have before

Photo: Londonist

Fancy using a loo which the likes of Tennyson, Thackeray, Forster, Dickens and Charlotte Brontë may have used before you? OK, so the actual toilet is a reproduction, but the privy at Carlyle's House on Cheyne Walk is the same one that was in use when Thomas and Jane Carlyle turned their house into a literary salon for the great writers of their time. The interior of the National Trust property gives an idea as to what a Victorian home was like in the then-unfashionable Chelsea — but really, we're here for the loo.

Admire the view

Looking towards Kensington from Peter Jones. Photo: Kawamoto Family

Being relatively flat, and bereft of exceptionally tall buildings, Chelsea's not an area known for its views over London. Nonetheless, march into Peter Jones department store, head for one of the upper floors and make for the nearest daylight. It depends on the current shop display situation and which windows are accessible, but we've always found the rug department on the fourth floor offers an excellent view of Sloane Square, and off towards Westminster and central London in the distance.

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Last Updated 08 June 2017