Kensington area guide

Head to Kensington to enjoy world famous museums, plus these bars, pubs and restaurants

V&A Friday Late
© Victoria & Albert Museum

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

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
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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

Mazi
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Mazi

This stylish addition to the capital’s Hellenic dining scene opened in 2012 in what used to be Costas Grill. Its food has more in common with the creations of leading Athens restaurants than anything you’d find in London – and the relief from the city’s Greeks is almost palpable.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Users say
3 out of 5 stars
Yashin
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Yashin

For anyone who likes sushi, Yashin is a must. Tucked down a side road off Kensington High Street, its exterior looks more like a smart French brasserie than a Japanese restaurant. But the centrepiece sushi counter gives the game away as soon as you step inside.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Book online
Dirty Bones
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Dirty Bones

Styled as a basement ‘dive and dog bar’ – hot dogs, that is – the interior of Dirty Bones is a triumph of studied retro cool. The hostess table is a vintage pinball machine, the lighting is flatteringly set to drinking-den low, and the music is at ‘party loud’.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Book online
Kensington Place
Restaurants Special offer

Kensington Place

‘Holy the sea’ says a wall-mounted slogan at this landmark establishment, and it’s clear from the bright, colourful interior design – heavy on the piscine motifs and maritime paraphernalia – that fish is the religion of the rejuvenated Kensington Place.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Book online

Kensington highlights

Holland Park
Attractions Book online

Holland Park

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.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Book online
Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall

Venue says: “Join us for headline acts, classical coffee mornings, late-night jazz, and everything in between. Unforgettable experiences since 1871.”

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Book online

Bars and pubs in Kensington

Kensington Wine Rooms
Restaurants

Kensington Wine Rooms

This popular establishment purrs on, secure in the affections of its Kensington crowd, who treat it like a members’ club, lingering over bottles and meals and filling the place with atmosphere and confident conversation.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Churchill Arms
Bars and pubs

Churchill Arms

This is a fine establishment, part homely tavern (it’s a Fuller’s, and the beer is excellent) and part Thai restaurant. The verdant frontage, embellished by an image of Churchill giving the V, is a regular winner in its category of the London in Bloom competition. Tourists love it, yes, but the regulars here include locals, and not just the posh ones.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Windsor Castle
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Windsor Castle

The Windsor is an ancient inn, and thankfully its refurb has been minimal. It’s clad in aged wood the brown of Princess Anne’s saddle; still intact are decorative wooden screens installed by the Victorians to separate the sexes while they got sloshed.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
3 out of 5 stars
Hillgate
Bars and pubs

Hillgate

Previously renowned as a genuine local that belied its salubrious surroundings, this corner pub is under new ownership. It’s had a serious spruce-up, and now, perhaps, feels more at home on its road of pastel-coloured cottages and Victorian townhouses.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
2 out of 5 stars

Hotels in Kensington

The Franklin Hotel – Starhotels Collezione

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.

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Blakes

Blakes

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.

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See the best hotels in Kensington

The perfect weekend in Kensington

See: Design Museum

See: Design Museum

Exhibitions on contemporary design, architecture, graphics and much more

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Book online
Drink: Churchill Arms
Bars and pubs

Drink: Churchill Arms

Relax in a homely tavern with great beer and an incredible floral frontage

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Explore: Kensington Palace
Attractions Buy tickets

Explore: Kensington Palace

Wander through one of London’s beautiful Historic Royal Palaces

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
3 out of 5 stars
Buy
Eat: Kensington Palace Orangery
Restaurants Book online

Eat: Kensington Palace Orangery

Treat yourself to afternoon tea in a grand setting

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Book online

Love London Awards: last year's winners

Romulo Café
Restaurants Buy tickets

Romulo Café

Venue says: “Ring in the season with three festive Filipino menus starting from £30pp, available until Dec 31. Free prosecco for bookings of 12 or more.”

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Buy
Whole Foods Market
Shopping

Whole Foods Market

The London flagship of the American health-food supermarket chain occupies the handsome deco department store that was once Barkers. There are several eateries on the premises.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Leighton House Museum
Museums

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.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
The Roof Gardens
Bars and pubs

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.

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
See the full results of last year's Love London Awards