South Kensington is one of the most visited parts of London, and for good reason: it’s home to the Natural History, Science and V&A museums. The main thoroughfare, Exhibition Road, is a lively and fitting route past the iconic institutions, up to Hyde Park and the Albert Memorial. There’s architectural splendour at nearly every turn, from the florid Italianate Brompton Oratory Catholic church to the iconic Royal Albert Hall. This distinctly elegant part of the capital also has a strong French accent thanks to the nearby Lycée Français and Institut Français, plus a sizeable student population (the Royal College of Art, Royal College of Music, Imperial College and numerous language schools are all here) and lots of embassies. There are restaurants and hotels galore too, plus a self-styled 'design quarter' with a cluster of high-end furniture shops. Here’s our pick of the best things to eat, drink, see and do in South Kensington.
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Things to do in South Kensington
Restaurants in South Kensington
Hotels in South Kensington
Bars and pubs in South Kensington
Tucked away in a small mews, its proximity to the Royal Albert Hall makes this busy pub the favourite destination for prommers. Its off-street location also provides a much-needed alfresco, cobbled drinking space; inside is a combination of rough-and-ready wooden tables with a chandelier overhead. Among students of the nearby Royal College of Music, it's known as 'The Nines' - there are 98 practice rooms at the college, this pub is affectionately regarded as the ninety-ninth.
The perfect weekend in South Kensington
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After a few setbacks and much anticipation, the Design Museum finally re-opened in its new premises last year – and boy, is it looking flash these days. Now located in the Grade II-listed former Commonwealth Institute building on Kensington High Street, it now boasts three times the space and has an archive, library, two shops and a permanent collection.
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 amongst others, but was largely destroyed by bombs during WWII. These days, dahlias are still grown within the 55 acres of Holland Park, which also houses the Japanese-style Kyoto Gardens with its koi carp and bridge at the foot of a waterfall. Not to be missed for families is the playground, with its extensive climbing equipment, zip wire, giant see-saw and tyre swing. There’s also a fenced-in separate play area for younger children. In summer, open-air theatre and opera are staged in the park. Discover more of London's hidden gardens and green spaces
The distinctive terracotta façade with its dark-green awnings stirs up some of the most divided feelings in the capital: for every tourist who comes out clutching their must-have Harrods teddy, there’s a local who sniffs at its vulgarity. It’s true that all the glitz and marble can be a bit much, but it’s hard not to soften at the imposing grandeur of this London institution, even if you prefer to duck into Harvey Nichols down the road. If you do brave entry, the legendary food halls and 27 restaurants are worth it: the Georgian has been open since 1913 and is a prime spot for a traditional afternoon tea, while newer restaurant Tartufi & Friends caters for truffle lovers. However, it’s on the fashion and beauty floors that Harrods really comes into its own, with well-edited collections from the heavyweights in the new Superbrands department and the stunning Shoe Heaven on the fifth floor. As featured inthe 100 best shops in London