The Idealist

Insider City Guide: Walton Street, South Kensington

When you hear the names South Kensington and Knightsbridge in passing conversation, the images conjured by the mind are most probably those of Harrods’ iconic façade, museums, the neon glow of flagship store shop-fronts and a claustrophobic sea of tourists who offer these places their custom. And, frankly put, these mental notes of Knightsbridge are somewhat accurate, faithful to slightly jaded truth that we, as Londoners, have spun for the city’s tourist districts, like Knightsbridge. But look a couple of streets back and the story is wonderfully different. Our tour today centres on Walton Street and we love it!

What makes Walton Street notable is the way it so readily challenges this perspective of ours. The words ‘independent’ and ‘local’ set the tone for many of the businesses of Walton Street. Here, you can discover a side of Knightsbridge unencumbered with the rhetoric of tourism, on the contrary, it’s brimming with an authentically West London character, marked by the area’s flirtatiously bohemian and aristocratic pasts. The boutiques and galleries of Walton Street, whilst carrying this energy, are all undeniably unique. By this token, they offer your home innumerable possibilities. We’d be the first to say these places are not for those of us shopping on a budget, but they are packed with great ideas and every place we visited we were made to feel welcome. It’s not the natural home of ripped jeans and piercings however — head to Shoreditch for that! If you like your looks vintage and eclectic and your choice of interiors distinctive — then there’s some great finds to be had here.

We’ve shortlisted some of the best that Walton Street has to offer:

Andrew Martin

Regarded by the Sunday Times as ‘a barometer of style for our times’, Andrew Martin’s 190 Walton Street showroom makes you understand precisely why the brand has been the recipient such international acclaim. The shop is a tapestry of wallpapers, fabrics and home accessories, all kaleidoscopically arranged in the brand’s signature style. True to co-founder and company director Martin Waller’s vision when he established the brand in 1978, Andrew Martin’s Walton Street is a cool mix between styles from various eras and cultures. It’s inspiring, tastefully eccentric and exudes a certain genius in the way it makes things that every style guide has told you shouldn’t go together- well, go together.

Andrew Martin International
Image: Andrew Martin International

Chelsea Textiles

Having identified a demand of meticulously embroidered fabric to complement interior of period homes, Mona Perlhagen founded Chelsea Textiles in 1990. In the past twenty seven years, the brand has developed a reputation for the excellence in the quality of their materials and standard of their workmanship, comparable to the embroidery of 17th and 18th century artisans. This is not to say that the brand only looks to the past. Chelsea Textiles also offer a variety of classically inflected Gustavian and Early 20th century designs that make for a tasteful fit with a variety of modern homes.

Chelsea TextilesBesselink & Jones

The brainchild of Hank Besselink and Nigel Jones, Besselink & Jones’ Walton Street shop displays the exquisite lighting the brand is so renowned for. The shop offers a selection of Besselink & Jones’ best pieces, which are complemented by an array of antiques and chandeliers. With commissions from the likes of royalty, it is difficult to overstate Besselink & Jones’ excellence in this field. It won’t take long until you find something you’ll fall in love with.

Besselink & JonesAndipa Gallery

The Andipa Gallery has been a Modern Art institution since 1967. It boasts an extensive inventory of sculpture, paintings and drawings that feature masters such as Picasso, Warhol, Lichtenstein Matisse and Hockney, to name only a few. Private clients of the Andipa Gallery enjoy the extensive service provided to them by the gallery, ranging from investment consultation to advisory aspects on collating a personal collection. The Andipa Gallery is warm and welcoming and is must for enthusiasts and investors alike.

ANDIPA GalleryBrownsword Hepworth

For Modern Art enthusiasts, Brownsword Hepworth is an absolute must. Taking residence at 15 Walton Street, the gallery specialises in modern British and contemporary art and sculpture, particularly focussing on the work of the iconic Keith Vaughan. Their dealers and agents are meticulously versed with both the shop’s curated works and the Modern Art market, and are wholly committed to your pursuits as an avid collector or fan.

Brownsword Hepworth_galleryDining:

Walton Street exudes the upmarket and artsy charm of the area’s past. The street’s many restaurants and cafes also play a vital part in this culture that has formed here, offering some of the best the Mediterranean has to offer in addition to classics closer to home.

Scalini

Proudly taking residence at numbers 1-3 Walton Street, Scalini have been offering Londoners a superlative Italian fine-dining experience for over twenty years. In their own words, their menu is ‘resolutely Italian’, and boasts authentic ingredients sourced from Italian producers from all regions of the country. The stunning food on offer is only matched by their outstanding collection of wines. Something of an institution in the area, Scalini brings the best of Italian food to the heart of Knightsbridge.

ScaliniThe Enterprise

Branded as ‘a bar and restaurant that is like a members club…but without the fee’, The Enterprise is a gastropub with that notably Knightsbridge touch. The restaurant’s ambience is a playful medley of quaint and ambient architectural notes, boasting touches that give it a modern, metropolitan edge. The menu follows suit. Traditional dishes are infused and reimagined with an adventurous edge for a truly 21st century gastropub experience.

The EnterpriseZefi

For fans of all foods Mediterranean, Zefi, on 103 Walton Street, offers an eclectic mix of foods from the region along with an assortment of British favourites. Its warm and welcoming atmosphere makes it perfect for casual dining or light lunches during the day. Their deserts are particularly great; their cheesecake in particular, comes highly recommended by customers. A bountiful bar menu makes Zefi a perfect evening haunt also. Its cool yet sophisticated atmosphere attracts a youthful crowd of young professionals, and keeps this pace till the early hours of the morning.

ZefiJak’s Bar

Classy, high-end, and bristling with an unruffled, cosmopolitan vibe, Jak’s Bar is a great place to grab those late night drinks when in the area. A favourite amongst the young and creatives of the area, Jack’s Bar is a sophisticated yet youthful haunt. If that was not convincing enough, word on the street is that their pizzas are something special.

Jaks BarHow to get here and staying nearby

With both Sloane Square, South Kensington and Knightsbridge Underground stations just a stone’s throw away, Walton Street’s central location means it is incredibly well connected to London’s public transportation network. With just a quick Oyster Card top up, you can easily be there within the hour.

The Cadogan

Just six mins from Walton Street is the iconic Cadogan Hotel. Built in 1877, the boutique Edwardian hotel has hosted royalty and is a connection to Knightsbridge’s aristocratic past. It’s hushed and warm interior is steep in history, with the famous Room 118 having been the one that Oscar Wilde was arrested in, in 1895. It captures the area’s opulence and bohemian spirit, and has been a favourite with people visiting the city for generations.

The Beaufort Hotel

Only seven minutes away from Walton Street, amongst the stucco-fronted townhouses of Knightsbridge is the Beaufort Hotel. Boutique and family run, the Beaufort Hotel has developed an international reputation for the excellence of their service. Their classic interior boasts fresh flowers, luxurious marble bathrooms and airy decorative suites that exude luxury.

Knightsbridge Hotel

Situated at the leafy address of 10 Beaufort Gardens, the Knightsbridge Hotel is also a mere seven minute walk away from Walton Street. The Knightsbridge Hotel packs all the trimmings of the hospitality you can expect of this calibre. A twenty four hour room service, concierge and valet parking is all standard operating procedure for the Knightsbridge, which paired with the rooms, individually designed in a modern English style by designer Kit Kemp, make for a truly luxurious stay.

For lovers of art and masterfully orchestrated interiors, the galleries and designer boutiques, most of whom are heavyweights in the interior design world, can be located on Walton Street. Take advantage of the restaurants and hotels on offer, and you can easily immerse yourself in the artistic and aristocratic traditions of the Knightsbridge of old, far from the din and bustle of tourism.

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Featured Image Copyright: mcr1961 / 123RF Stock Photo

  • Nigel is a writer and journalist living in London. He loves music, literature and architecture. Since moving to London to study, he’s yet to kick his honeymoon phase with the city, and when not working, can consequently be found making the most of what London has to offer. He maintains that Billy Joel is one of the greatest and most critically misunderstood singer-songwriters of our time. So far, he has found 3 other people that agree with him.

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