If you don't come often to West London, you're bound to only hang out in the boring end of London's Kings Road, the one which looks like any other London High Street, filled with shops you can find everywhere like Jigsaw, GAP... However I have to admit it has become slightly more interesting lately, with Comptoir des Cotonniers, Hoss Intropia, etc... but still nothing you can't find somewhere else. Next time, I challenge you to push it a little further west, after the firefighters station. You will find out what Chelsea is really about: precious little gems of boutiques and restaurants which don't belong in a chain. Here are my top picks.
There is, of course, my all-time favourite, Austique. It is one of the most girlie boutiques in South West London, and I love coming here for super feminine dresses from Alice & Olivia or Libelula, Wilbur & Gussie clutches and Lollia Petit candles. Their cashmere wraps are a must for Winter. They used to stock products by Detox Twins, but not anymore, which is a shame, I wish they started that line again! The sales girls are not only gorgeous, they are extremely friendly and helpful, making shopping here a real pleasure from beginning to end. You can also shop on-line on their website.
330 Kings Road
0 207 183 4421
When I'm feeling sporty, I head to Sweaty Betty, just across the road, where I find technical sportsgear with a fashion twist. They stock Adidas by Stella McCartney, Asics, Nike,... If you're going to start a new workout regime, this is the best place to start at, you can stock on cute outfits so you'll look great, even whilst sweating! As I travel abroad regularly, I take my Sweaty Betty hot pink skipping rope with me, and try to fit a little skipping before heading to meetings in the morning (every little helps!).
281 Kings Road
0 207 751 4350
A bit further down the road there is The Shop At Bluebird, where I go to find an eclectic mix of avant-garde collections. They currently stock items from the SS2010 collection by Isabel Marant which a lot of fashionistas are lusting after. The shoe selection is particularly good (Rupert Sanderson, Christi. You'll also be able to stock up on international issues of Vogue, Allure... The website unfortunately is pretty hopeless, I am not sure if it's a blog or a shop, so make a trip there instead. The shop also hosts an in-house spa featuring the famed Micheline Arcier massages. Next door, you'll find the Epicerie at Bluebird with some seriously yummy delicatessen to take home.
The Shop at Bluebird
350 Kings Road
0 207 351 3873
Opposite the Bluebird you'll find French Sole, home to the coolest ballet flats around. Unlike the shop on Ellis Street near Sloane Square, this one rarely sees a customer stampede so if like me you like to take your time and try loads of different combos you'll be happy here. My favourite style is the Harriet, with a larger than average toe cleavage. Come here to order personalised black velvet slippers (how very Gossip Girl!!). You can also shop on-line, although the inventory is smaller, but at the boutiques you'll have to make do with some seriously surly sales girls...
323 Kings Road
0 207 351 1634
Another shop I really like browsing in around here is Brissi, where I find some really nice interior accessories and furniture. The glass lampbases are superb and would add a bit of glamour to any room, and I love storing my magazines in the embossed leather holder I got here a couple of seasons ago.
352 Kings Road
0 207 352 8686
As you can see there are many shopping opportunities for me in this neighbourhood so it is important that I try to bring Hubby Dearest along (to carry the bags of course). It is relatively easy to coax him into coming, especially if I throw lunch at the Big Easy in the deal. This is an acclaimed American-style restaurant, modelled after a Gulf crabshack, where you can enjoy dishes such as surf'n turf, burgers, and amazing fajitas that will leave you full for 2 days... They make a mean Virgin Mary.
Big Easy Bar.B.Q. & Crabshack
332-334 Kings Road
0 207 352 4071
Another place I enjoy here for food is Sushinho: it is perfect for a SATC-style drinks and dinner. I think the Brazilian / Japanese fusion food is one of the best mixes invented so far, and I love downing passion fruit caipirinhas (made with Abelha cachaça, no less...) whilst sharing a platter of sushi with my friends (the dragon roll is delicious). It is eco-friendly as well: tuna has been taken off the menu recently. This is an ideal spot for week-end dinners, but make sure you book in advance as it can be popular.
312-314 Kings Road
0 207 349 7496