Words by J. Hatts
11 Cadogan Gardens is a lesser-spotted wonder, a lavish panelled burrow tucked back from Chelsea’s mêlée but a short hop from Sloane Square and King’s Road. At first glance, a single handsome town house, the hotel is actually a set of four knocked together - and behind the red brick Arts & Crafts facade, a warren of dark-wood staircases and deep-carpeted corridors lead to 56 plush, well-appointed rooms. The beds are fantastic - crisp linen, high tog, at once firm and mallowy; pillows which usher in the sound and happy sleep of the just. The bathrooms are steamy visions of marble, enamel and chrome. Outside the branches of plane trees jostle and the autumn sunshine does its best but the hotel is so warm, the room so comfy, that it takes some effort to leave and explore the world - so cosy is this home away from home.
Portraits (of the sort one expects to have spy-eyeholes) hang in the passages and overlook the stairs. Armour, glasswork and other Gothic objet d’art stand on the landings, eccentric and outré. Downstairs, the charming Italian barman made me a whiskey sour with the sort of easy show and élan that delighted the rest of my party as much as my tastebuds. Chic service in a grand little bar.
The reception staff were similarly charming, smiling young people in excellent suits. I got the impression that nothing was too much trouble and it was touching how kind they were to draw me maps and suggest places of interest, which was how I came to pass the most wonderful few hours in John Sandoe Books, another magical rabbit hole - independent bookshop since 1957, a mazy store shelved to the gunwales with thousands of books, staffed by folk of bonkers bibliomane knowledge and passion.
To stay at 11 Cadogan Gardens and spend my days reading treasure from John Sandoe Books - toasty by a fire, fine drink in hand. Heaven, true heaven. A resting travellers’ delight.
So do seek out this sub-rosa wonder of Chelsea.
It boutiques all the boxes.
To book a room or find out more, click here.