To think that one of the world’s most expensive areas, Sloane Street, had its beginnings with the story of one man is incredible. But then, we are not talking about any ordinary man. Hans Sloane, physician-philanthropist-collector-father who lived between the 17th and 18th centuries, seems to be making his presence felt everywhere you look in this neighbourhood of über prestige. Sloane Square, Sloane Street, Hans Place and Hans Town are all named after him.
To describe someone like Hans Sloane, you would have to use expressions like ‘larger than life,’ ‘a man of his times’ and so on. Indeed, he was all these and more. He was a successful doctor inspired by the best practitioners of the age; he redistributed his wealth among the poor by providing them with free medical supervision; and he was a serious – if sometimes obsessive – scholar of fauna and flora.
That’s not all. The origins of Cadogan Estate, one of London’s highest-priced developments still belonging to the same family today, could be traced back to Sloane too. When he died in 1753, his Manor of Chelsea was inherited by one of his daughters, who was married to the Second Baron Cadogan. However, it was only in 1777 that the architect and developer Henry Holland was granted a lease to build Hans Place, Sloane Street and later, Sloane Square.
To get an idea of how large a piece of land the Cadogan family owns, you just have to look at the map and visualize 93 acres bordered by Sloane Street and Kings Road. It is ironic to think that the Cadogans, a long line of decorated soldiers whose military history dates to the 12th century, are the owners of one of London’s most fought-over retail territories in the 21st century.
Starting at One Hyde Park, a true landmark which houses Rolex’s UK flagship store, we walk down one of the planet’s most famous shopping streets by ways of Harvey Nichols, Sergio Rossi, Zagliani, Gucci, Dior, Bulgari, Giorgio Armani, Valentino, and Chanel. On the north end of Sloane Street, Roberto Cavalli and Loro Piana have opened larger boutiques at numbers 20-22 and 47-48 respectively. After passing by the Royal Danish Embassy, Hans Street and Hans Place Garden, Pont Street is very much worth a detour, with Agent Provocateur and Carine Gilson Lingerie Couture holding strategic positions.
As we continue our march down the 1-kilometre-long Sloane Street, we must stop for a proper cup of tea at No. 11 Cadogan Gardens, a jewel of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The stunning hotel with 19th century Queen Anne style architecture featuring red bricks and stucco is a perfect escape for a good brew and tasty nibbles. Feel at ease in the Drawing Room and enjoy finger sandwiches, homemade scones and pastries. Why not have a glass of Pimms with your afternoon tea before getting back on the road?
British heritage is evident at brands such as Smythson, Hackett, Pringle of Scotland, Anya Hindmarch, Jo Malone and Links of London. A crescendo of stores – including Cartier and Tiffany & Co. – leads up to Sloane Square. Flanked on one side by the Hugo Boss flagship and the Peter Jones Department Store, and on the other by the Royal Court Theatre, it a vantage point from which you can observe the frenzy of one of London’s best shopping addresses.
Cadogan Estate’s newest development this summer is at 201-206 Sloane Street, so large that you simply cannot miss it. Ermenegildo Zegna, Alberta Ferretti and Tom Ford have each claimed thousands of square metres on this street which is also home to Jimmy Choo, Fendi, Rag & Bone and Orlebar Brown, to name but a few, as we continue to hear exciting news regarding new openings.
If you look all around you, you will understand why London has already overtaken Milan, New York and Paris as a fashion capital – due in part to Sloane Street, which, just like the man it was named after, is truly larger than life.
What else is there to do besides shopping?
Don’t miss Chelsea in Bloom, 20-25 May, when all the stores in this area will put their best green thumb forward, creating the wildest displays using flowers and plants. Last year, Ted Baker made a huge corgi, Liz Earle did an afternoon tea display, and Hackett boasted a set of the most handsome rosy royal guards. Who knows what 2013 will bring? The only way to find out is to see it for yourself.