Home to aristocracy, Victorian-era stucco-front townhouses and Anglo-Saxon heritage, Kensington is one half of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Although eponymous Grade I-listed Kensington Palace may be off the table, staying in one of the luxury apartments in Kensington will let you live like royal. In a neighbourhood with such a cultivated pedigree – Francis Bacon was a former resident — the rich fabric of places to visit in Kensington means there will never be a dull moment. The museums in South Kensington are must-sees while High Street Kensington offers a choice of stylish cafes, restaurants, bars and designer labels. If you’re searching for holiday apartments in West London, opting for short term accommodation in Kensington makes exploring the borough a breeze. Consisting of streets lined with period architecture, occasionally interrupted by a charming garden square, this affluent district caters to everyone from tastemakers to playful families to creative artists.
With gourmet plates being the norm, deciding where to eat in South Kensington may be difficult. Kitchen W8, a fusion of modern English and French fare, prides itself on its neighbourhood atmosphere, while preserving its position as one of the best places to eat in Kensington. It faces tough competition from Launceton Place, who’s menu of seasonally inspired European food adds an element of theatre to fine dining. The local taste for refined dishes can be spotted in the likes of Margaux, one of the more urbane French restaurants in Kensington. Adam Simmonds' Pavilion, dressed in Marqina marble, brass accents and centred around an elegant champagne bar, is raising the standard for brunch with its artisanal fare. End the day with a tipple at one of the wine bars in Kensington. Kensington Wine Rooms is cosy and relaxed with a curated selection of fine wines.
Museum lovers take note, London's finest collections are housed in the cultural institutions that line Cromwell Road. Need suggestions of places to go in Kensington to get you started? First, visit Kensington Palace. Designed by Christopher Wren, the genius behind St Paul's Cathedral, this Grade I-listed royal residence is symbolic of Britain’s monarchy. Marvel at the paintings on display in The State Rooms, mostly sourced from the Royal Collection. Exit by the Guard house and stroll down Exhibition Road. You can swing by the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum are thought-provoking spaces but it’s the Victoria and Albert Museum on Cromwell Road that takes the crown. With original programmes that celebrate over 5,000 years of art, design and performance, the V&A’s decorative façade is as impressive as its in-house collection. Follow Cromwell Road towards Holland Park and you'll find the Design Museum towering above High Street Kensington’s stores and coffee shops. The award-winning transformation of this Grade II-listed building, led by John Pawson, won it the European Museum Award of the Year.
Shopping in Kensington is widely considered the ultimate retail therapy. Connecting Exhibition Road to Hammersmith, High Street Kensington is one for compulsive shoppers. The Brompton Design District is where design aficionados and international brands come together to celebrate creativity. If you’re looking for things to do near South Kensington, head here. Visit during the annual London Design Festival to experience this area in its full glory. Want to upgrade your interiors? Try Mint, Sé or The Conran Shop, where you’re sure to get lost in the quality finishes and chic aesthetics. Alternatively, in Bernard George’s Grade II-listed building, the Japan House demonstrates the beauty and functionality of East Asian design. The Library on Brompton Road promises a carefully selected collection of cutting-edge avant-garde clothing paired with a personal service. MSGM embodies the Italian spirit of pizzazz, even down to its interiors, conceived in collaboration with ML Architecture. Colourful terrazzo and raw concrete set the tone for this boutique’s bold men’s and womenswear.
While Hyde Park might be the obvious choice, Holland Park is a dream destination for horticulturists. Spanning 54-acres, it boasts tennis courts, football pitches and gold practice nets for those who like to work up a sweat. Its expansive green landscape includes a play area complete with climbing walls, a zip wire and tyre swing to keep the rest of the family occupied. Kyoto Gardens is the park’s hidden gem; a serene collection of tiered waterfalls, vibrant blossom trees and stone lanterns – an altogether zen space.
Looking for a challenge? Get those endorphins going at the Core Collective, where fitness is a way of life. Limber up with pilates or jump straight in with grueling cardio. Whatever your goals are, the trainers at Core Collective will help you to achieve them. With such sleek interiors, you’d be forgiven forgetting you’re in a gym. Motivated by your surroundings? Try Equinox for a variety of training options under a stunning elliptical sky-dome.
Another area to consider
Brimming with a village vibe and community spirit, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were far from vibrant South Kensington when staying in one of Holland Park’s apartments, London. Wander through the dainty cobbled mews, admire the crescents of white stucco-fronted townhouses and avenues lined with artisan producers who count the likes of Richard Branson and David Beckham as their customers. The marvels of Victorian-era architecture can be truly appreciated here; Holland Park property boasts detailed cornicing, imposing columns, period balustrades, glass and iron canopies that stretch over grand entryways, preserving the heritage of this historic quarter. Between lively Kensington High Street and affluent Holland Park Avenue sits the namesake park, formerly the address of Holland Park House. Spanning over twenty hectares of well-trimmed gardens, its woodland walkways are home to plenty of wildlife for a truly rural feel. Many Holland Park apartments are surrounded by designer boutiques, exceptional brunch spots and lavish restaurants.