Suite dreams by the waterfront in Chelsea
While London has no shortage of swanky places to stay, the five-star Chelsea Harbour Hotel is right up there with the best the city has to offer, but offers a taste of luxury at a reasonable price.
We travelled down by rail to Euston Station, got a tube to Shepherd’s Bush, then switched to an overground service that took us directly to Imperial Wharf, across the road from the hotel. All in, it was a 40-minute journey, which, in London terms, qualifies as a short commute.
Budget or boutique?
There’s definitely a top-tier feel throughout the hotel, but I’d describe it more as “reassuringly five-star” than boutique. It’s situated in the fashionable Chelsea and Fulham district and boasts its own waterfront populated with a fleet of yachts. The only all-suite luxury hotel in the city, every room comes with a plenty-of-space guarantee.
One minor criticism would be that the hotel entrance was slightly tricky to find upon arrival at the station. You have to walk round to the other side of the building to find it and signage is poor at best.
We were booked into a Chelsea King Suite, and the sheer scale of it made us feel like heirs to the throne. The suite was bright, airy and tastefully decorated in a modern style. We found many of the staff here helpful and friendly. Any issues we had were generally resolved without too much time or fuss.
Wining and dining
A highlight of our stay here was the food, not least because of the harbour views. Without further inquiry, I took a stab in the dark by ordering the soup of the day, which turned out to be a mouthwatering mushroom and courgette combo. Next up was a grilled rib-eyed steak for the main; delicious and sizzled to medium-rare perfection. For dessert, there were numerous standout options, but we found the coffee and amaretto tiramisu impossible to resist.
We shared a bottle of French red and watched from our harbourside window as the light dulled and the reflections of the marina lights began to sparkle off the water. During dinner waiting staff were chirpy and talkative, sounding genuinely interested in where we were from and what brought us to the Chelsea Harbour, and the bar staff were cheerful.
Worth getting out of bed for
Chelsea Harbour offers boating packages, which we took full advantage of to enhance our stay. Travelling by skimmer, you pass by numerous familiar landmarks either side of the Thames, before disembarking at the Tower of London, tickets to which were included in the package.
Location-wise, we felt a little out of the way from the main tourist sights, which is as good a reason as any to book a place on one of the boat trips. If nothing else, it will break the monotony of travelling into central London via tube, which you’ll probably be doing a lot of during your stay.
Chelsea is particularly handy if luxury shopping is your bag, with the hotel close to Notting Hill, Kensington and Knightsbridge. Within walking distance, albeit over the Thames, is the Battersea Power Station made globally recognisable by Pink Floyd. The Battersea Park area is currently undergoing a redevelopment, in a bid to transform the former industrial heartland into a luxury shopping and business quarter.
Football fans may wish to take a trip to Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea FC, which is no more than 25 minutes’ walk from the hotel.
Adjoining is a spa, run by a different company, but part of the same building. Book ahead if you’re keen on a pampering as spaces fill up fast. The property also has a gym and swimming pool.
We departed frighteningly early on our final day - too early for breakfast. Chelsea Harbour staff, however, outdid themselves by preparing us a takeaway breakfast and lunch for the long journey north – a memorable parting gift.
As five-star hotels go, the Chelsea Harbour ticks all the boxes and then some. Its all-suite status, cheerful staff and situation just off the River Thames set it apart from many of its competitors.
The starting price for the Culture Corridor package is £355 based on two people sharing. Chelsea Harbour Hotel, London SW10 0XG, 0207 823 3000, firstname.lastname@example.org