This article is part of a guide to london by FT Globetrotter
Chelsea is a destination I find myself in more and more these days, and I spend a lot of time around the King’s Road for both business and pleasure. Duke of York Square is a lovely place to stop for a drink or lounge in the comfort of an oversized Soho Home sofa for a few moments of relaxation before plunging into the Saatchi Gallery. I like to keep an eye out for interesting events and exhibitions here (earlier this year I had a fabulous time at the Bob Marley One Love Experience, and I can’t wait to The New Black Vanguardopening on October 28). I also attended the Beginning event, an inspiring celebration of art, in the autumn every year since its debut in 2014. As with the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, I wouldn’t dream of missing it.
Always with Chelsea, I love it The company bar and restaurant in Walton Street. For me, it’s not just the great food that counts, but rather the overall experience, and that’s what I enjoy here. It has a cozy country house style interior with a bustling atmosphere, and the seasonal salads, fabulous chicken Milanese and Scottish salmon patties are beautifully executed. The staff make you feel welcome, especially Fu (Fouad) the bar manager who is one of those rare people who recognizes you on your second visit and makes you feel so welcome . These are the things that make any experience, whether hospitality or retail based, special to me.
Everyone needs a treat when they’re working hard, and the relentless high temperatures this summer have created the perfect excuse for one of mine. Time and time again I found myself on Pavilion Road walking in Parlor by the Ice Cream Union. Its hand-crafted, hand-picked ingredients mean its Argentinian-inspired artisanal ice cream is sublime, whether you prefer the classics or something a little more, perhaps matcha green tea or cornflake. My favorite of the season during the summer was his Pimm’s sorbet – the perfect way to cool off – although it would be a treat come rain or shine.
To stay in the guilty pleasures, the zucchini, pistachio and lime cake of Organic Daylesford in Marylebone is my other top pick – the ingenious addition of basil and coconut makes this the most refreshing and delicious cake in the world. (And because they’re Daylesford, they decorate it with edible flowers, so it’s a visual feast, too.)
One of the many things that makes London so special to me is its green spaces. There are so many beautiful parks and commons, but my current favorite is Mount Street Gardens. It’s one of those places that takes you a few steps away from the city – a peaceful Victorian sanctuary planted with exotic trees in the heart of Mayfair, where the chirping of birds masks the noise of traffic and where you can stop and breathe for a few minutes during a busy day.
For a completely different kind of break, I love popping into Moving truck in Belgravia to unearth unusual gifts and sip a cocktail in its Roof Garden bar. Trust me, you haven’t tasted Old Fashioned until you’ve tasted it with Hibiki Blossom Harmony Whiskey. The restaurant serves an extraordinary array of dishes — my personal favorites are the Cornish crab, lamb croquettes and Norwegian cod — and alongside these outstanding dishes comes outstanding service; they are so customer focused and Charlie Cranwell-Ward gets a special mention for meeting all of our requirements the last time we were there.
I think my favorite place in London, however, is Chiltern Street at Marylebone. The character of the entire street, created by the wonderful independent shops, bars and restaurants offset by the fabulous Victorian Gothic architecture, is unlike any other place in the city. It’s a nice place to sit outside and relax with a coffee. When I’m there, I always enter The gallery of everything to see what happens as I love his work supporting so many awesome non-mainstream artists.
It’s important to me that when I bring artists and guests to London that they have an iconic London experience, and one of the best in my opinion is a visit to Aire Ancient Baths at Covent Garden. With its authentic interior and seven thermal baths, this astonishing spa is on a mission to “create absolute well-being and calm”, an essential element when you are on a working visit to the capital.
It has the added bonus of being just down the road from my hotel of choice, the Nomadic, where the rooms are the perfect combination of opulence and comfort and the food is simply breathtaking. But again, for me it’s the quality of service that lifts it. The staff are unfailingly charming, so I’m always confident that performers from anywhere in the world will take home the best possible impression of my city.
Helen Swaby is the founder and CEO of Clarendon Fine Artsone of the largest gallery groups in the world
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