When we think about London, we often picture iconic elements that have come to embody the British brand as a whole: Victorian townhouses, hanging baskets of beautiful blooms outside every pub and hotel, incredible fashion and shopping, culture and, of course, football (also known as soccer, as us Canadians call it). The posh neighbourhood of Chelsea quite literally encompasses all of these things—it’s an absolute must-see spot for anyone visiting London who wants to live the quintessential British experience.
For those wanting to stay in this utterly charming and exquisite neighbourhood, 11 Cadogan Gardens is the place to be. As a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, 11 Cadogan Gardens truly represents the portfolio of properties that SLH stands for—independently owned, luxurious, charming, inspiring and warm.
The location of 11 Cadogan Gardens is highly accessible and could not be more ideal for the avid shopper. Not too far away by foot there is Buckingham Palace, the stunning River Thames and Victoria station—convenient for your arrival and departures from London. Just a four-minute walk away are the boutique shops of Sloane Square and within 10 minutes stands Harrods, the world’s most famous luxury department store. But don’t be fooled by the over-the-top vibes of Chelsea—11 Cadogan Gardens feels like home.
Tucked away in a peaceful square just off the bustling Sloane Street, the exterior of 11 Cadogan Gardens felt understated and charming with the small signage outside of the door, and a large and proud Union Jack flag fluttering in the wind. This was foretelling of the utmost humbleness experienced at every touch-point of the hotel (even though there was absolutely nothing to be humble about, as the experience simply could not be matched).
We entered the hotel and immediately received the warmest greeting from Andrea, the Head Concierge. Our room was not ready yet as we had arrived earlier than planned, so we waited in the reception area in awe of how a space could be so quaint and cozy, yet magnificent and lavish at the same time. It felt as though Sherlock Holmes would have studied here.
The wait for the room was the most enjoyable wait I have ever had—no doubt due to the loveliest conversation with Andrea and Emelson who both made me feel as though they were long lost family members I was meeting for the first time. In fascination, I watched the regulars from around the world flip through the cozy reception area, as Andrea slipped in and out of French, Italian and English seamlessly with each passing guest. I could already understand why there were regulars here.
We decided to do a quick tour of the property while we were waiting for the room. Each room had a completely distinct personality (however, all held together with sophistication and luxury) to it and had the Creative Director in me screaming with excitement and inspiration—I could easily spend weeks here producing countless editorial fashion shoots.
We began in The Library: a literary enthusiast’s dream with plush sofas, historic portraits and a collection of books dating back as far as the 1800s.
We then popped over to The Chelsea Bar, boasted as being “unashamedly moody and seductive” it was exactly that. Dark, masculine, sexy and dramatic—the vibes here catered to romantic cocktails for two, or to the gentleman winding down after work. Hot tip, by the way: the Mixologist here makes the best Negroni in town.
Next we saw The Conservatory, an intimate space in a serene environment with glass ceilings—perfect for semi-private meetings as it connects to the slightly more contemporary Drawing Room (your spot for a fabulous afternoon tea, another quintessential British experience).
Last, and by far the least, was The Mirror Room. A suitable spot for Marie Antoinette to have afternoon tea, accents of gold, with the walls and ceilings panelled by mirrors made this by far the most magnificent room I have encountered on my travels. This room interconnects two suites and is included when booked for private events.
The tour had concluded and my room was ready. Andrea led us to the elevator to take us up to our room. As if there was not already enough charm in this hotel, the elevator was, of course, a birdcage elevator. There was not enough space in the elevator for myself, my enormous bags, my local friend who visited and Andrea, so he pressed the third floor button for us and sent us on our way. My friend and I looked at each other and joked wondering if Andrea was going to magically appear at the top of the elevator waiting for us—and he did. Three flights of stairs and 20 seconds later, he was there opening the elevator door for us, out of breath but as fabulous and lovely as ever. We couldn’t get enough of this guy!
We walked through the narrow hallways that felt more like we were in a person’s home than a hotel, towards the Signature Suite. Each of the 56 rooms was completely different and we were excited to see which one was ours. As I entered the room, I realized—this was home. The room was large, elegant and comfortable. Ample amounts of natural daylight made it as fresh and tranquil as can be. The king-sized four-poster bed and the oversized, deep couch were both equally calling my name for a blissful face-plant of pure contentment—and I already felt rested, knowing I was going to have the sleep of a lifetime here later that night.
The bathroom was spectacular too. Complete with a walk-in shower, claw-foot bathtub, large counter-space with two sinks and counter-to-ceiling mirrors, decadent marble finishes, stunning bright lighting and a separate divided toilet closet: this bathroom was made for royalty. Bonus points for the heated floors.
We left the room for an epic walk to Buckingham Palace, across the River Thames to St. Paul’s Cathedral, and back. Feeling completely exhausted, we came back to the room to see the bed had been turned down with a couple of delicious chocolates—a nice little surprise. I had the sleep of a lifetime.
Included in the stay was breakfast at Hans’ Bar & Grill, a surprisingly delightful spot hidden in the basement of the hotel. Unlike the rest of the property, which was draped in opulent decadence, there aesthetic of the restaurant was much more contemporary. Each person we walked by said hello with the friendliest smile (this was true of every staff member throughout the entire stay), as we headed towards our seats. Freshly squeezed orange juice was just the ticket to start the morning off with a satisfying and savoury Croissant Benedict.
As we wrapped up breakfast, it was time to leave 11 Cadogan Gardens and head to the next adventure. Andrea ushered us out of the hotel with a heartfelt goodbye filled with as much warmth as he had greeted us with. I felt oddly emotional and genuinely sad to leave—a strange feeling I had never experienced at a hotel before. I was so moved, I had to give Andrea a big hug, another new experience at a hotel and with its staff. This really did feel like I was leaving someone’s home, or even my family member’s home.
The hotel itself was simply amazing: from the location, to ambience, the rooms and the food. However, the customer service we experienced at every touch-point was something to be admired. I have never felt so welcomed with arms wide open before, and that feeling alone is a reason to stay here. My memories from 11 Cadogan Gardens will be cherished as a stay that all hotels should aspire to live up to.
Photography by Amy Pigeon (retouched by Kareen Mallon) and courtesy of 11 Cadogan Gardens.