London continues to shine as the world-class city it is, from the royal wedding a year ago to the upcoming Olympics. But my favorite part about London, is discovering the best local shops and restaurants in each neighborhood. Sloane Square is the perfect starting point for a day exploring London's Chelsea neighborhood. The term "Sloane Ranger" was coined when Princess Diana was young to describe the London women that call Chelsea home and love shopping on the King's Road.
Chelsea is where Pippa Middleton still lives in the flat that she used to share with Kate, but it's not about the royal connections here - just a day of shopping and strolling in one of London's great, modern neighborhoods.
Sloane Square: Start in Sloane Square, which has beautiful architecture and is also close to Belgravia and Kensington. The anchor of the square is Peter Jones department store, where Duchess Kate is often spotted shopping for clothes, sunglasses, and handbags. The store's origins date back to 1864, when Welshman Peter Jones arrived in London and started his business. Today, Peter Jones stocks higher end brands like Mulberry but also more affordable lines like Whistles, Diesel, and 7 for All Mankind.
Walking away from Sloane Square, you'll soon see Duke of York Square, which is a great spot to have a coffee and people watch. You'll spot the large Jigsaw stand-alone store, a London favorite for both casual and work clothes. Next to Jigsaw is Partridges, a gourmet grocery store that holds a Royal Warrant. A Royal Warrant means a company supplies goods or services to the Royal Family. At Partridges, you're sure to find a souvenir, or if you have a hankering for American processed food, they stock cereals like Cheerios and Apple Jacks, as well as Oreos, Pop-Tarts, and Fruit Roll-Ups. There's a Banana Republic which stocks different items than U.S. stores, and a fabulous L.K. Bennett store to find a perfect pair of pumps or summer sandals. If you need a haircut or color, the Richard Ward Salon is where Duchess Kate has gone for years, since she lived in the neighborhood.
Continue up the King's Road, where you stop at affordable shop Warehouse for trendy T-shirts, dresses, and pants. Across from Warehouse is Kurt Geiger, one of Europe's leading shoe retailers. Londoners stock up on Geiger branded shoes and accessories here, and other lines like Prada and Gucci. Kurt Geiger branded shoes aren't too expensive, and average about 100-200 pounds. By this point, you may want a gelato break, and Amorino serves some of the best in London. For frozen yogurt, you'll spot Snog further up the road.
As you walk, you'll pass by the famous Raffles nightclub, which you can return to in the evening. Austique is a local favorite for its carefully curated selection of fashion, jewelry and accessories. It's where you come when you want to find something that no one else will have when you get home.
Stopping at Bluebird Cafe is an absolute must for lunch or dinner. Their outdoor cafe and courtyard lunch menu has sandwiches, salads, and soups. For dinner upstairs, it's one of the most popular spots in Chelsea.
Close to Bluebird Cafe is Old Church Street, which shows what a quiet residential Chelsea street feels like. You'll hit the Thames after a ten-minute walk down Old Church, with nice areas to rest.
Other favorite local dinner spots as you continue up the King's Road include Medlar for French-based, locally sourced cuisine or eight over eight for pan-Asian dishes.