Kensington is the ideal central location to explore and enjoy London. With masses to explore, see and do: Royal Palaces, three world famous museums, parks and open spaces, The Royal Albert Hall, Royal College of Art and Imperial College, plenty of shopping opportunities, restaurants and cafes, and excellent transport links to theatreland in the West End and the city’s business districts.
Located west of Hyde Park and bordered by Notting Hill and Knightsbridge, Kensington High Street is the commercial heart and South Kensington is often described as ‘London’s cultural heartland’. It’s one of the most affluent areas in London with lots of interesting architecture and hidden pockets of interest, so it’s well worth strolling through the streets that run off the busier main roads.
Museums, Galleries & Music
Within a 5 minute walk from any of our Kensington properties (see links below) you’ll find London’s three world famous and most popular museums. Entry is free (although special exhibitions require tickets) and late night openings make it possible to avoid the crowds.
The Natural History Museum exhibits elements of natural history, such as plants, ecosystems, animals, paleontology and much, much more. Famous for the huge dinosaur skeleton that dominates the main hall, many of the collections have great historical, several specimens on display were collected by Charles Darwin, as well as scientific value. You could easily pass a day browsing the exhibits and there are plenty of specific children’s games, quizzes and downloads to keep them occupied and entertained. www.nhm.ac.uk
Victoria & Albert Museum (or, The V&A as it is more commonly known) – the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design with over 4.5 million objects in the permanent collection. Named after Queen Victoria & Prince Albert, the historically important museum dates back to 1836 and houses artworks spanning over 5,000 years from different cultures across the globe. www.vam.ac.uk
Science Museum – founded in 1857 by Bennet Woodcroft to display items from the Great Exhibition in 1851 and collections from the Royal Society of Arts. Today, the highlights of the museum’s collection include machinery, cars, space exploration and a recreation of the Crick & Watson’s model of DNA. www.sciencemuseum.org.uk
Leighton House Museum – the only purpose built Studio-house in the UK that is open to the public. One of the most remarkable buildings of the nineteenth century it contains a collection of paintings, sculpture and the famous Arab Hall.
18 Stafford Terrace, W8 www.rbkc.gov.uk/subsites/museums/leightonhousemuseum
The Royal Albert Hall opened in 1871 to fulfill Prince Albert’s (Queen Victoria’s consort) vision to create a ‘Central Hall’ to promote an appreciation of the Arts and Sciences. The Grade I building hosts a fantastic annual programme of musical concerts and events is a registered charity, held in trust for the nation, and receives no funding from central or local government. www.royalalberthall.com
Royal Colleges of Music – (situated directly opposite The Royal Albert Hall) is one of the world’s great musical conservatoires. Founded in 1882 by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), the college trains gifted musicians from all over the world for international careers as performers, conductors and composers. Today the college has 750 students from more than 60 countries studying at undergraduate, masters or doctoral level. www.rcm.ac.uk
Imperial College London – founded in 1907, Imperial College is rated amongst the world’s best universities with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research. www3.imperial.ac.uk
Kensington High Street buzzes with retail activity and is great for high street brands, and quieter, Kensington Church Street (which runs up to Notting Hill) is good for browsing smaller, bespoke shops.
For more serious shopping, the choices are to go east or west. Take a short bus ride east for Harrods and Harvey Nichols department stores in Knightsbridge. Or, go west for Westfield Shopping Centre (the easiest travel option is by Tube to Shepherd’s Bush, Central Line) https://uk.westfield.com/london
Kensington Palace Gardens: once the private gardens of Kensington Palace was recently voted by a national newspaper one of the UK’s favourite outdoor spaces. Covering an area of 242 acres, it’s a great open space for resting or walking and there are lots of points of interest too: The Albert Memorial (at the south-east corner and opposite the Royal Albert Hall), Kensington Palace (the official residence of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge), the Peter Pan statue, the Italian Gardens, Serpentine Gallery and the Diana, Princess of Wales memorial playground. www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/kensington-gardens/kensington-gardens-attractions
Hyde Park, London’s most well-known park area covers 350 acres and opens every day from 5am to midnight. It’s home to famous landmarks including the Serpentine Lake, Speaker’s Corner and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. It also offers lots of activities including open water swimming, boating, cycling, tennis and horse riding, and, if you happen to be taking an early morning walk there’s a chance you’ll see the Household Cavalry out on exercise. https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/hyde-park
Bill’s: friendly chain restaurant good for breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea
125 Kensington High Street www.bills-website.co.uk
Café Rouge: French bistro style food with lots of space for families
2 Lancer Square, Kensington Church Street www.caferouge.co.uk
Kitchen W8 (11-13 Abingdon Road) a bit further out but well worth investigating. The menu is a la carte during the week and Sunday lunch is very reasonably priced for three courses – the bitter chocolate pave with salt caramel ice cream and honeycomb is not to be missed.
A Short History: Until the mid-1800’s the Kensington area was largely used for farming, supplying London with fruit and vegetables. In 1851 the Great Exhibition, a spectacular international expo to showcase Britain’s achievements in industry, commerce and culture, was held at then famous Crystal Palace in Hyde Park. The Commissioners of the Exhibition went on to purchase land in the surrounding area to create a home for institutions dedicated to the arts and sciences, which resulted in the foundation of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum and the Imperial Institute.
Don’t forget our 24-Hour Concierge service can help arrange your tickets, transport and restaurant reservations.
To view Maykenbel’s serviced apartments in Kensington, click on the below: