Welcome to Kensington: London in Microcosm
Even if you’re unfamiliar with London, you’d probably guess that Kensington is a neighbourhood in Britain’s buzzing capital - it just sounds so London-ey! As opulent as it is stylish and as pretty as it is quirky, Kensington is what most people who’ve never visited London expect the entire city to be: swanky, chic and packed with historic and cultural delights. Indeed, when you consider that this leafy and somewhat exclusive area of West London is home to world class museums, a brace of Royal Parks, handsome Georgian squares, fashionable boutique stores and quaint antique shops, it seems almost impossible to think of Kensington as being anything other than ‘classic London’ in microcosm.
Not bad really for an unremarkable patch of ground that started life as a small rural village back in the halcyon days of the early 19th century…
Upscale Fun: Things to see and do in Kensington
The Royal Kensington Palace and Gardens on the western edge of glorious Hyde Park is surely the best place to begin any tour as it is by far the grandest building (and that’s quite a statement) in the borough. As the former home of Queen Victoria and the site of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial playground, it’s a definite must-see. The landmark Royal Albert Hall, one of London’s most prestigious concert venues, is fairly close by too, just a stroll away on the southern fringes of the park.
Of course, no visit to Kensington is complete without a trip along Exhibition Road where you can get up-close-and-personal with dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, and blow your mind with the hands-on exhibits at the Science Museum, all for free. If shopping’s on your radar then the trendy boutiques on Kensington High Street and cute antiques stores dotted along Kensington Church Street are where you need to be.
Unsurprisingly, dining and drinking options abound, with restaurants and bars of all kinds lining the borough’s neatly manicured streets. Visit the Churchill Arms pub on Kensington Church Street to enjoy a traditional ale and some hearty British food in warm - and somewhat quirky - surroundings.
Stay in Style: Accommodation Options in Kensington, London
By its very nature, Kensington is home to some of the swankiest London hotels around, not to mention an ever increasing array of luxe boutique hotels. Budget options are available too, though you won’t be surprised to hear they’re pretty thin on the ground.
With its rarified ambience and sublime location overlooking Kensington Gardens, The Milestone Hotel & Residences has long been one of the borough’s choice top-end offerings. The property’s antique decor, hugely evocative of its gilded 17th century origins, certainly makes it a very memorable place to lay your head.
Our pick of Kensington’s many boutique hotels would have to be The Ampersand Hotel on Harrington Road. The perfect blend of contemporary chic and old world style, this classy joint will win you over with its quirky guest rooms (inspired by local landmarks) and trendy Mediterranean restaurant.
Those looking for more economic digs can still enjoy lodgings with a genteel touch at the Nadler Kensington Hotel, where smart guest rooms sit peacefully within the modern confines of a stately 19th-century townhouse. The classic white stucco exterior is picture perfect too.