The Smarter Guide to… Kensington
From its world-class museums to its Royal connections, Kensington is a cut above. Explore this handsome central London neighbourhood and discover the best restaurants, boutiques and places to visit.
PLACES TO VISIT
Once part of Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens is home to the Serpentine Galleries; the Diana Memorial Playground (children will love the pirate ship); and Kensington Palace. Visitors can explore Queen and King’s State Apartments and the Sunken Garden.
W2 2UH; royalparks.org.uk
Royal Albert Hall
Renowned as one of the country’s top performance venues, the Royal Albert Hall (originally the vision of Prince Albert) has hosted musical acts of all genres – including the BBC Proms, a season of summer concerts, which has taken place here for the last 80 years.
Kensington Gore; royalalberthall.com
From ancient Chinese ceramics to Alexander McQueen dresses and embroidered wall hangings, the collections at this leading art and design museum span 5,000 years. It’s impossible to discover all the galleries at once; for the highlights follow the online interactive trail of must-see objects.
Cromwell Road; vam.ac.uk
Natural History Museum
A blue whale skeleton greets visitors at the entrance to this world-class museum, which has over 80 million objects. It’s fascinating stuff, from the coral specimens collected by Charles Darwin to moon rock samples from the USA’s Apollo missions and a Triceratops skull in the dinosaur gallery.
Cromwell Road; nhm.ac.uk
Founded by the late Sir Terence Conran who believed that design has a vital part to play in shaping the world, this museum’s permanent exhibition is Designer Maker User, which features around 1,000 items (Olivetti typewriters, a fitted kitchen and road signs). The rest of the space is for rotating shows on subjects from sneakers to Stanley Kubrick.
224-238 Kensington High Street; designmuseum.org
PLACES TO EAT
Brown & Rosie
A contemporary café with exposed brick walls and blonde wood bench seating, Brown & Rosie serves coffee using beans from Sydney-based roaster Pablo & Rusty’s. The menu runs from acai bowls to tacos and cakes. Good for a post-museum pitstop.
10-12 Exhibition Road; brownandrosie.co.uk
Once a regular supper haunt of Princess Margaret (she booked under the alias Maggie Jones and, in the 1970s, the restaurant’s name was changed in her honour), the food here is hearty – fish pie, roast pork belly – and the setting romantic, with wine bottle candles on rustic wooden tables and wicker baskets of dried flowers by the stairs.
6 Old Court Place; maggie-jones.co.uk
Owned by Danish Marianne Brammer, this Nordic-inspired café feels like a real find. The space – white wooden floorboards, soft grey-green walls, photographic prints from HackelBury Fine Art gallery next door – is welcoming and much of the all-day menu is made in-house, from the blueberry compote and gluten-free granola to the sourdough rye bread sandwiches and cardamom buns.
3 Launceston Place; hjemkensington.com
PLACES TO SHOP
High Street Kensington
Running west from Kensington Gardens, this busy road is the main shopping hub for high street fashion in the area; look out for labels such as Jigsaw, Cos and Uniqlo. There’s also a huge Whole Foods Market and a handful of places to eat.
South Kensington Books
Round the corner from South Kensington tube, this independent bookshop has been in business for over a decade. It has new arrivals and bestsellers by the till, and a wall devoted to visual arts, architecture and photography. Don’t miss the sale section, tucked into an alcove outside.
22 Thurloe Street; kensingtonbooks.co.uk
ALL IMAGES: COURTESY OF THE SEPTEMBER CHRONICLES