About The Surprise

With so many world-class hotels and restaurants, iconic attractions and fabled shopping destinations, it’s hard to believe there’s still room in Chelsea for the kind of tranquil residential street where you’ll find The Surprise. Established in 1853, the handsome, red-brick freehouse is steeped in swashbuckling history, taking its name from HMS Surprise, the captured French corvette used by the British Navy to sneak up on enemy vessels in the days of Admiral Nelson. More recent years have seen The Surprise shrug off World War II bomb damage, win loyal followings of scarlet-clad Chelsea Pensioners and art-school bohemians, and, rumour has it, house a pet lion in its upstairs rooms.

Today, we’re proud to offer locals and visitors a regularly changing menu rich in the finest local and seasonal ingredients, an eye-opening range of wines, beers and spirits and the kind of friendly welcome you’d expect of a cosy village pub. A cricket ball’s throw from Burton Court’s serene playing fields, stately Royal Hospital Chelsea and the charming Chelsea Physic Garden, there’s plenty of opportunity to slow down and enjoy the neighbourhood. 

Fresh from his success with The Pheasant, a country pub with acclaimed cooking and smart guest rooms near Hungerford, Berkshire, landlord Jack Greenall has overseen a casually elegant, top-to-toe refurbishment of the building whose every inch celebrates its place at the heart of the local community. With rich colours, characterful upcycled details, a quirky collection of art, books and board games and plush, cosy seating, Isabella Worsley, formerly interior designer to top London addresses including Ham Yard and Covent Garden Hotels, has created an effortlessly relaxed setting, with the dapper Hamilton Room, the light-filled upstairs private dining space, its crowning glory.