The affluent area of Kensington is home to many outstanding restaurants and bars, as well as boasting a rich cultural heritage thanks to some of the biggest and best museums in London. Enjoy a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, or spend a day shopping (or window shopping...) on High Street Ken. Kensington Gardens are pretty nice, too.
What are your favourite Kensington haunts? Let us know in the comments.
The best bits of Kensington
12 reasons to go to Kensington Church Street, W8
This is the forgotten street of not-so-wild west London. The street that you walk up when you get lost looking for Notting Hill Gate, or walk down to find High Street Kensington. It’s the geo-glue in the middle, holding the two together, where proper old-money types mix with organic, biodynamic, wheat-and-dairy-free fashionistas. Kensington Church Street is an old part of town from a simpler time, way before Richard Curtis managed to convince the world that Hugh Grant was just an innocent spluttering boy being seduced by a girl in a flat which would cost bazillions in reality. It’s eccentrically posh, like Withnail’s Uncle Monty but without the harassment – camp, fun and welcoming to the odd young lush. Even Madonna once set up home here, and for good reason. Not only are there 13 antique shops within about a mile radius, there are also beautiful pubs and flowers everywhere – and (unlike Madge) KCS doesn’t take itself too seriously. A few years ago you could find a shop here flogging real suits of armour for your ‘Scooby-Doo’ castle; now the street has done whatever the opposite of gentrifying is and the top brekkies are served by a Welsh Scouser. It all adds up to somewhere that you can use to impress visiting parents, American friends and mates with a fear of going west. Eat this heavenly brunch 🍳☕️😌 A photo posted by ᴀʟᴇxᴀɴᴅʀᴀ ʟᴀɪʙʟ 🌿 (@alaibl) on Apr 15, 2016 at 4:15am PDT Blueberry pancakes with bacon at Ffiona’s. Run by Ffiona herself, it ha
Going to the new Design Museum? Take a detour to these eight places in Kensington
The Design Museum has gone all west London on us, with a brand new home on High Street Kensington. With three times as much space as its previous Shad Thames location, the museum's not only in a swanky neighbourhood but it's within walking distance of some great local spots. Here are eight places worth visiting the next time you're in the area. Muffin Man Tea Room Stop off for some afternoon tea at this quaint little tea room, serving up arguably some of the best scones in London. 12 Wrights Lane, W8 6TA A photo posted by ParisxCalligraphy (@parisxcalligraphy) on Oct 30, 2016 at 2:30am PDT The Britannia Head straight to this quintessential British pub for a cheeky pint and a game of Scrabble if you're feeling like a rest after a long morning or afternoon strolling around the museum. 1 Allen St, W8 6UX A photo posted by Pubs of Britain (@pubsofbritain) on Aug 9, 2016 at 2:52pm PDT Kyoto Gardens The beauty of Holland Park is right around the corner, so a visit to the stunning Japanese gardens section - the Kyoto Garden - should definitely be on your list. There's beautiful manicured sections, a waterfall and even a couple of peacocks thrown in. Ilchester Place, W8 6LU A photo posted by Amy (@joanamy32) on Nov 1, 2016 at 7:27am PDT The Ivy Brasserie Fancy a little treat after your cultured morning? Pop into The Ivy Brasserie on High Street Kensington for a spot of delicious all-day dining. The truffle aranc
Restaurants in Kensington
The history of Holland Park, one of London’s finest green spaces, makes an interesting tale for history buffs and horticulturalists alike. The park surrounds a Jacobean mansion, Holland House, named after its second owner, the Earl of Holland, whose wife was the first person in England to successfully grow dahlias. In the 19th century, Holland House became a hub of political and literary activity, visited by Disraeli and Lord Byron.
Royal Albert Hall
Built as a memorial to Queen Victoria's husband in 1871, the Royal Albert Hall's vast rotunda was once described by the monarch as looking like 'the British constitution'. It has been the venue for the (now BBC) Proms since 1941, despite acoustics that do orchestras few favours.
Bars and pubs in Kensington
Hotels in Kensington
The Franklin Hotel – Starhotels Collezione
Unlike its sister hotel The Gore over the road, black is the new black at The Franklin. In fact it’s got much the same sophistication about its interiors as Blakes, from the sexy monochromes about the general decor to the romantic intimacy of its suites. It’s by no means the same place, though – the out-of-bounds garden suggests club-like rules, and the Venetian influence about the lobby gives the impression this is The Gore’s dark, and rather surreptitious, sibling.
An Eastern influence pervades Blakes (rooms give a gentle nod to the aesthetics of India, Turkey, and Russia, etc.), but not so much as to go overboard with the idea. The Empress Josephine Suite is a particular highlight, with its black wash and gold trim – a theme much in keeping with the Anouska Hempel-designed restaurant on the ground floor. Yes, there’s plenty to explore in Kensington, but this is a hotel you might never want to leave.
The perfect weekend in Kensington
Love London Awards: last year's winners
Leighton House Museum
Leighton House reopened in April 2010 after a £1.6 million refurbishment which has uncovered and restored many of the decorative schemes and features of the house, as well as a previously unseen staircase. In the 1860s the artist Frederic Leighton commissioned his friend, the architect George Aitcheson, to build him a showpiece house in Holland Park, which he filled with classical treasures from all over the world, as well as his own works and those of his contemporaries. The house was a work of art in itself, with every inch decorated in high style inspired by the studios Leighton had seen on his extensive European travels. There were magnificent reception rooms downstairs designed for lavish entertaining, and a dramatic staircase leading to a huge light-filled studio taking up most of the first floor. Four extensions were added over the years, the most striking addition the ‘Arab Hall’, designed to showcase Leighton’s huge collection of sixteenth-century Middle Eastern glazed tiles. The house was created as a stage on which Leighton could play out his role as a great artist, contrasting with the tiny single bedroom, the only private space in the whole house. Today, the house is still an architectural treasure trove which belies its somewhat dour exterior and the museum holds, or has on loan, some fine paintings as well as drawings and sketches.
The Roof Gardens
This rooftop members' club features three suitably plush, themed gardens spread over 1.5 acres. Handily, the venue also holds events open to non-members, so that anyone can enjoy lush and luxurious partying from up high, at themed events, live gigs and DJ nights that lean towards house, funk and disco. Remember to break out your glad-rags and dress to impress.