eighteenth-century redevelopment of London beyond the City of Westminster was
dominated by two hugely wealthy families. The Grosvenors, Dukes of Westminster
created Mayfair out of their land north of Green Park and later moved west to
create Belgravia (still the most expensive neighbourhood in the capital) and
their nearest rivals to the Grosvenors – (admittedly only the 14th
richest family in Britain) - were the Earls of Cadogan. The foundations of the
Cadogans’ London estate were established in 1717 when Charles, the
young Baron Cadogan married Elizabeth Sloane, daughter of Sir Hans
Sloane, who had purchased the Manor of Chelsea in 1712.
In 1777 Charles’
son, now the first Earl of Cadogan commissioned the architect Henry Holland
to create one of the first purpose-built new towns in Britain. "Hans
Town", in the area we now know as Sloane Square and Chelsea, provided
attractive Georgian terraced houses to gentlemen of moderately affluent means.
In 1811 and 1813 Jane Austen visited her brother Henry who lived in one of
these houses, No 64 Sloane Street.
Sir Hans was also
commemorated when the Cadogans named their main piazza Sloane Square. But they
also put their own imprimatur on the development by naming a web of streets stretching
north of the famous square Cadogan Gardens.
In the nineteenth
century this entire complex of terraces was given a makeover by the Fifth Earl
who had served as Disraeli’s Under-Secretary of State for War. The earl chose
the architect Henry Holland, who created five-storey terraces of red brick
houses topped with white Dutch gables. The style was so distinctive it garnered
its own name: Pont Street Dutch.
In the middle of
this vertiginous architectural extravaganza stands 11 Cadogan Gardens, four
town houses that were combined in the twentieth century to create a private
members club that became a hotel in 2012.
Gardens overlooks the kind of exclusive gated and railed park you find in films
like Mary Poppins and Notting Hill. Inside the hotel there are 56
bedrooms and two bars linked by dark and moody stairwells and corridors. With
lots of 18th and 19th century portraits adorning these dark
walls you could be forgiven for thinking you had stepped back centuries in
however are modern, bright, and airy and the ground floor bar-cum-restaurant is
a revelation. In 2018 the Cadogan Estate – who still own the hotel – ripped out
the old kitchens and servants’ quarters to create a modern bar and restaurant
that opens on to Pavilion Row behind 11 Cadogan Gardens. Pavilion Row was
originally the mews running behind these huge red brick houses. Many of the old
stables have been turned into artisanal bakers, butchers, or ice cream
parlours. As a result, the hotel has a split personality.
At the front of 11
Cadogan Gardens the hotel has a Victorian clubland vibe with a library, drawing
room and its Chelsea Bar which looks like it’s waiting to film an episode of
Sherlock Holmes. Meanwhile, at its rear, the Hans’ Bar & Grill (once
again named after Sloane himself) is illuminated from above by skylights. It
has big bright windows and green banquettes. Guests take breakfast here, but it
is also hugely popular with Chelsea’s yummy mummies who meet here for coffee or
At this lower
level the hotel has a gym, a room called The Curio, which is more traditional
in style and makes a great private dining room.
Gardens is managed for the Cadogan Estate by Iconic Hotels, who have done so
much to restore Cliveden in Buckinghamshire to its former glory. This is an
ideal hotel for shopping in and around Sloane Square. It’s also only five tube
stops from London’s West End.
DON’T MISS: The Royal Court
Theatre in Sloane Square is the home of the English Stage Company and has a
commitment to new British writing. Works by Caryl Churchill, Terry Johnson, Jez
Butterworth and Martin McDonagh have been premiered here.