£40 million townhouse is one of many offerings at London’s Chelsea Barracks

The Chelsea Barracks has gone from being a symbol of military might to one of the UK‘s most anticipated property developments. Hill Choi Lee visits one of London’s most prestigious addresses to witness how these military barracks became the city’s most expensive real estate

For over two centuries, the Chelsea Barracks stood as an enduring symbol of Britain’s military might, a sprawling complex that housed generations of infantry regiments in the heart of the nation’s capital. But in the waning years of the 20th century, the drums of war gave way to the sounds of construction as this historic garrison underwent a remarkable transformation.

Today, the Chelsea Barracks development occupies a prime piece of real estate in the heart of London’s Chelsea neighbourhood. Established in 1769 by decree of King George III, the Barracks long served as a strategic hub for the British Army, its parade grounds and neo-classical buildings a fixture of the surrounding neighbourhood. Yet as the military’s footprint in central London diminished, the ministry eventually shuttered the site in 2008, setting the stage for a bold 12.8-acre redevelopment project.

A new luxury identity

One of the Chelsea Barracks townhouses

Chelsea Barracks, located in the established Belgravia neighbourhood, announced the completion of its subsequent residential address 9 Mulberry Square earlier this year. The compound comprises 48 new homes: 46 residences and two penthouses offering one to five-bedroom homes.

A guided tour of one of the townhouses – priced at a respectable £40 million – gives us a glimpse of what is on offer. The townhouse spans over six storeys with all bedrooms being ensuite. There is also an indoor pool, a home cinema with an adjacent pantry and wine room, a modern kitchen with floor-to-ceiling glass doors opening up to a garden, a spacious rooftop, and a beautiful, classic winding staircase that connects all the floors. As a cross-generational abode, an elevator will cater to the most senior family members who want to take it easy (or whoever wants to skip going up six flights of stairs: age unlimited).

The Garrison Club for Wellness living

Buying access to a Chelsea Barracks residence not only means owning a piece of property in one of London’s most prestigious addresses, but it also gives you access to a wealth of other amenities and perks. The on-site club, The Garrison Club at Grenadier Gardens, offers state-of-the-art services and facilities.

So, what does this mean? The Club covers an area of 32,749 square feet and features a multi-use sports hall that can be used as a championship-size tennis court. The impressive feature of this court is that the lines are drawn with LED lights, allowing for a seamless transition from a volleyball to a basketball court with the push of a button.

The facility is also home to a 25-meter swimming pool, a modern gymnasium, a club lounge, a business suite with private offices and boardrooms, and a children’s playroom.

Beyond the facilities, service is of utmost importance. A team of private trainers will tailor your fitness programme. Catering from outside can be brought in to host a party in the lounge area overlooking the versatile sports court. A blended door on the side of the lounge leads to a hidden library room that provides a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle.

Within this private area, a team of medical professionals can provide the latest wellness service: the IV drip solution. For £300 per session, a certified nurse can come to administer a 1-litre IV drip filled with a cocktail of vitamins in the privacy of your own home, all within an hour, allowing you to go about your day feeling refreshed.

Location, location, location

The location of Chelsea Barracks could be confusing at first. On a map, the development is situated on the axis of the uber-prestigious Belgravia, the affluent Chelsea and the architecturally prominent Pimlico.

More broadly, the property is located along the north bank of the River Thames. Mere steps away from some of the city’s most iconic landmarks and attractions.

To the south, residents and visitors can stroll along the scenic Thames Embankment, taking in panoramic views of the river and the distant spires of the Houses of Parliament. Just to the east lies the upscale Sloane Square, home to high-end boutiques, cafes and the venerable Saatchi Gallery.

Heading north, one encounters the charming lanes and mews of Chelsea, a neighbourhood long favoured by the city’s creative and intellectual elite. The area is favoured by independent antique dealers, art galleries, and the celebrated Royal Court Theatre. Music lovers can catch a performance at the Cadogan Hall. All the while, gastronomes delight in the Michelin-starred restaurants that dot the neighbourhood.

A dining and shopping haven

Belgravia stands out as one of the most upscale and desirable neighbourhoods in London. From dining to shopping, rivalling other high-end enclaves like Mayfair and Knightsbridge. If you venture more east into what is considered Chelsea, unlike some of London’s more staid and traditional luxury districts, the area has long cultivated a reputation for chic, cutting-edge style.

The streets surrounding the Chelsea Barracks development are brimming with independent boutiques, artisanal shops, and innovative restaurants that cater to the discerning tastes of affluent residents and visitors.

Along the Sloane Square and King’s Road corridors, shoppers can peruse the latest designer fashions, bespoke furnishings, and exclusive beauty products. Neighbourhood mainstays like Peter Jones department store and the Saatchi Gallery provide ample opportunity for high-end retail therapy.

The characterful At Sloane boutique hotel next to Sloane Square tube station is the latest chic gathering place full of Parisian charm. Here, the 30-room hotel – from the creative minds of iconic hotelier Jean-Louis Costes and interior designer Francois-Joseph Graf – is devoid of run-of-the-mill influencers and other “social medialites”. Which is surprising because every nook and cranny of this property is simply Instagram-worthy. The entire property is an ode to the brilliance of mixing textures, maximalism yet chic. Instead, it attracts a clientele that values quiet luxury and 20th-century nostalgia. If you are in the neighbourhood, I highly recommend the restaurant on the top floor for a tranquil and delicious breakfast, or the belowground moody bar that is unlike any others in the vicinity.

The Orange

The dining scene in Belgravia and Chelsea is impressive to say the least, featuring Michelin-starred establishments and celebrated chefs alongside trendy cafes and lively gastropubs. Locals and in-the-know foodies flock to spots like The LaLee, a Belmond Hotel restaurant, The Orange pub, and beloved neighbourhood favourites like The Ivy Chelsea Garden.

Image: Aragawa

Or if one evening, you are in the mood to satiate your carnivorous craving, why not head over to Aragawa in Mayfair, which is a short car ride away? This Japanese steakhouse near Green Park originated in Tokyo and serves heaven-grade wagyu steaks. More specifically, steak cuts from the extremely exclusive Tajima strain of black wagyu cattle. However, this is not a meal for the faint-hearted. A meal with accompanying wine can set you back anywhere between £750 and £1,000 per head. My vegetarian non-drinking dinner partner broke all rules and finished her steak and wine in a manner and speed that is equally impressive and suspicious of whether she truly is a teetotal non-meat eater.

Community first

All in all, what sets the neighbourhood around Chelsea Barracks apart is its ability to balance that rarefied air of exclusivity with a more laid-back, community-oriented vibe. The area retains a sense of charm and character that is sometimes lacking in London’s ultra-prime districts. This makes it a particularly attractive proposition for those seeking a lifestyle that is both luxurious and livable.

9 Mulberry Square is but the first in a trilogy of buildings to be released as part of the next phase of Chelsea Barracks. This next phase will offer 97 new residences across three buildings.

Also see: Own a piece of the Aman lifestyle with its first standalone residences in Tokyo

In this Story: #culture / #art & design / #travel / #homes