There are echoes of Oscar Wilde and Lillie Langtry at the revamped Cadogan Hotel, but where’s their raffish charm?

There are echoes of Oscar Wilde and Lillie Langtry at the revamped Cadogan Hotel, but where's their raffish charm?

I’m a Chelsea girl. My home was a darling black and white cottage in Coulson Street during the years that my dad was both general manager of Peter Jones (“the Mothership” to me) and honorary colonel of his territorial regiment at the Duke of York’s barracks opposite.

I can’t afford to live in Chelsea, but it’s still “home”, just a 137 bus ride away. I’m drawn there like a magnet, though I do regret its creeping luxification, with Tiffany and other high-end stores much in evidence. Chelsea, whose heyday was the Swinging Sixties, should be raffish, boho, artistic, not glitzy like Knightsbridge.

Owned by Cadogan Estates, the Cadogan Hotel, which first opened in 1887, stands in Sloane Street midway between the two neighbourhoods, and while Belmond’s just unveiled, multi-million-pound reincarnation aims to attract “tastemakers, eccentrics and Bohemian spirits”, it has much of slick, pampered Knightsbridge about it as well. The lived-in, laid-back Chelsea Arts Club it is not; stylish, polished, classy and expensive it is, with more suits than hipsters in evidence, though its town-house vibe makes it homely, and it has a fabulous perk: guests get keys to the huge private haven of Cadogan Place Gardens opposite, including its two tennis courts.

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