King's Road shopping guide - part one

Chelsea's King's Road is an unmissable shopping destination for Londoners and tourists alike. Part one of our shopping guide takes you from Sloane Square to the iconic Heal's store.
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Chelsea's King's Road burst into fame in the 1960s, epitomising swinging London in the eyes of the world.

It is where the action was with a fashion revolution that embraced not only celebrated designers, boutiques and models, but girls - and boys - on the street.

Fast forward to the 21st century and this area is still at the heart of cool, an unmissable shopping destination for Londoners and tourists alike. It is an exceptionally long road so we will offer three bites of the cherry, starting with the Sloane Square end.

On Sloane Square itself, Peter Jones (www.peterjones.co.uk) reigns supreme, the jewel in the crown of the faithful John Lewis Partnership. There was indeed a real Peter, who first set up shop in 1871. He started with a modest two stores knocked into one, but in the end he had gobbled up 28 shops. Bought by the fledgling John Lewis Partnership in 1905, Peter Jones was rebuilt as a modern department store.

Its most recent mega-refit - costing an unstinting £107 million - was finished in 2004. The dramatic result is all glass, glamour and light, with soaring escalators and dramatic balconies. Now you can shop over seven floors, finding fashion, furnishings, homeware, children's goods, electricals and electronics, haberdashery and more.

Peter Jones
Shopping at Peter Jones in Sloane Square spreads out over seven floors, with soaring escalators and dramatic balconies
Interior design is of the essence. You can browse more than 100 sample books from top designer-brands such as Cole & Son, Jane Churchill, Osborne & Little, Sanderson, Zoffany and Harlequin. And order samples free of charge.

A big asset in the furniture department is the wonderful natural light - more, it is claimed, than any other similar department in London. Rugs are another strong point: kelims and flat-weaves, needlepoint, sheepskin and pile rugs from a romantic international register that includes India, Nepal, Pakistan, Iran, China and Europe. Many are "one-offs", created as a unique piece by an individual and inspired weaver.

More of the soft stuff includes Londoners' favourite own-brand John Lewis carpet, no less than 28 ranges and 519 colours. Then there are another 67 carpet ranges, offering a further 700 colours. John Lewis offers a free measuring-up service and an instant on-site estimate. Installation, by approved fitters, is normally two to four weeks (call 020 7881 6373; or email floorcoverings_peter_jones@johnlewis.co.uk).

Peter Jones also has a strong reputation for fitted kitchens, and its experienced planners are well used to London's cramped rooms. An adept installation service is all part of an overall five-year guarantee.

Peter Jones furniture advisors
The team of "furnishing advisers" at Peter Jones will sort out your decor and can arrange for curtains and soft furnishings to be made up within a week (020 7881 6442)
Permanently to hand are a creative team of "furnishing advisers". They'll sort out your decor for free, and then - miraculously - arrange for curtains and other soft furnishings to be made up within a week (call 020 7881 6442; or email furnishingadvice_peter_jones@johnlewis.co.uk)

Peter Jones is also the largest toy retailer on the King's Road, stocking kiddy wish-list brands such as Lego, Meccano, Brio, Barbie and Sylvanian Families.

Service is a strong Peter Jones suit, and it employs some of the most pleasant assistants in town. Book a personal shopper, for example (email pj_personal_shopping@johnlewis.co.uk), or consult a nursery adviser. A gift-wrapping service (£3 an item) is available on the sixth floor next to customer services.

Also on the sixth floor is the restaurant, which has sweeping views, while the cosier second-floor brasserie overlooks Sloane Square.

Two more services are exclusive to Peter Jones: find exquisite fresh flowers at the Symons Street entrance from Royal Warrant holder, Moyses Stevens (www.moyses-stevens.co.uk); while Footopia on the first floor takes tender care of shop-worn feet. It does perhaps the most thorough pedicure in town, and also offers specialist chiropody advice (call 020 7881 6324; or email info@footopia.biz).

Heals sofa
Walcot purple velvet sofa (£1,995) from Heal's
Just a step away from the hurly-burly of King's Road (opposite Peter Jones) is the relaxing open space of Duke of York Square. It is the first new square in central London for more than a century, a modern development of the former barracks, which has retained some of the old buildings to add atmosphere. Upmarket fashion brands strut a lot of stuff, including Joseph and Agnes B, and enticing cafés include Patisserie Valerie.

For a free art update, call by the 70,000sq ft Saatchi Gallery, which arrived in Duke of York Square in October 2008. This is its third home since opening 20 years ago (www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk). The innovative website lets you live chat to new artists online, and buy work free of commission.

Make a detour for Zara Home, to check out top design trends. Lesser known is its beautiful embellished white table linen - perfect for that bottom drawer (www.zara.com).

Yves Delorme does petals with panache, covering pretty bed linen with floral patterns from France. Or snuggle into its high-quality duvets from German Brinkhaus, which has been dishing up the down for more thank 155 years (www.yvesdelorme.com).

India Jane lanterns
From £79: elegant lanterns from India Jane
This end of the King's Road is indeed crammed with fashion, but there are more home gems. India Jane (two stores at number 131-133 and 232; www.indiajane.co.uk) is the decorator's delight with a global remit for leather, crystal, silver plate, and ceramics. Furniture and lighting are elegant and classic.

Film posters are evocative and emotive - and often highly artistic as well. Limelight Movie Art (at number 135; www.limelightmovieart.com) is the London specialist for film posters, having 20 years of personal experience. "Naturally, we've got Hepburn and James Bond, and all those familiar film images from Britain and Hollywood, but we also have more unusual and esoteric pieces from around Europe," it says. Prices are typically about £100 to £150 but go up to thousands. Browse in the shop or online. Ask for what you can't see/find, and the staff will try to track it down.

On the other side of the street, find a useful branch of the Early Learning Centre (at number 36; www.elc.co.uk).

Muji vase
Recycled sake vase from Muji (£7.95)
A little further along is Muji (at number 118, www.muji.eu) with its calm no-frills answers to fashion, furniture, furnishings and storage. Recently, it updated Thonet's famous Bentwood chair. Muji passionately recycles: re-used yarn makes bed linen, slippers, T-shirts and socks. Then there is the recycled glass used for its cool vases and flasks (left), and the recycled card for a neat photo-frame with a ready-to-post envelope.

Habitat (at number 208; www.habitat.co.uk) is one of this lively chain's five stores in the London area. It sells its own-brand furniture, rugs, lighting, tableware, stationery, and more. Buyers source goods from all over the world, or commission them from new and established British talent.

Watch out for quirky china and accessories by Concetta Gallo, and an expanding range of furniture by James Harrison. The Habitat style is upbeat, modern, and bang on trend, and many pieces have won - or have been in the running for - several design awards. Yet prices remain sensible. Services include furniture home assembly, and it offers interest-free credit.

Heals, King's Road, Chelsea
The famous Heals store is at 234 King's Road
Heal's (at number 234, www.heals.co.uk) dates back to 1810, when John Harris Heal founded a family bed-making business at the store's main branch in Tottenham Court Road, W1.

Ultimately the sign of the four-poster outside his shop was to become the mark of good design throughout the UK. Celebrations for the Heal's bicentenary begin in September, and will run throughout 2010. Check them out on www.heals2010.blogspot.com.

This famous store was particularly important to the Arts & Crafts movement, fostered by Sir Ambrose Heal, who joined the firm in 1893. Heal's was where Aldous Huxley first met Virginia Woolf, was the first to exhibit Modigliani in its (sadly now defunct) Mansard Gallery, and first showed room-sets by Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer and Maxwell Fry.

Heals vase
Mirage Kosta Boda vase (£250) from Heal's
Today, Heal's retains its reputation for good design, with furniture, homeware, lighting, accessories and gifts from top-quality contemporary brands, and big-name designers such as Philippe Starck, Tom Dixon, Orla Kiely and Matthew Hilton.

Heal’s Discovers is an ongoing programme to put pieces by new designers into production. Services include furniture and kitchen planning, curtain- and blind-making, and interior design (by appointment).

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