A Nightlife Guide to Kensington, London

Group of friends having drinks
Group of friends having drinks | © Alamy

Despite being one of the smaller neighbourhoods in London, Kensington can still host a great night out with a superbly stylish nightlife scene. Check out the top bars, clubs and late-night events in the area.

Late-night museums offer booze and culture in one hit

Blue whale skeleton hanging in the Hintze Hall, Natural History Museum, London

Have a tipple or two beneath the blue whale skeleton in the Natural History Museum from 6pm on the last Friday of each month before heading over to the V&A to carry on the party where you’ll be treated to live performances, debates, installations and DJ sets. The best part is they’re both free – just turn up. If you want to start the party earlier in the week, head over to the Science Museum on the last Wednesday of the month for a thematic evening where visitors can enjoy variety and cabaret shows, its popular silent disco and explore an array of topics ranging from sexuality to the circus. The late nights offer the chance to see some great exhibits without the usual tourist crowds, plus it’s a great way to squeeze things into a packed itinerary, leaving you time to do other things in the city during the day.

1. Piano Kensington

Bar, Restaurant, Fusion

Piano, Kensington
© Livia Gregorova and Veronika Smolejova
Tucked away behind an unassuming door on Kensington High Street – conveniently located next to a McDonald’s – is this gem of a jazz bar. It’s often packed to the rafters so it’s worth booking if you want to nab a table. Prepare to sing your heart out to some classic tunes (the pianists often take requests) – expect everything from BB King to Kings of Leon. Go for guaranteed atmosphere and solid cocktails.

2. Hyde

Bar, British

Situated just outside of Kensington Gardens opposite Kensington Palace, Hyde promises a sophisticated night out that lasts until 3am from Thursday to Saturday – if your jet lag doesn’t get the best of you. On weekends, you can also treat yourself to Pan-Asian cuisine to soak up some serious signature cocktails. Fans of R&B, hip hop and house music will especially enjoy this boutique nightclub.

3. Hollywood Arms, Chelsea

Bar, Pub, British

If you prefer a chilled-out pub vibe to a buzzing club but still yearn for glamour, head to the Hollywood Arms. Tucked away just off iconic Fulham Road, it is not unlikely you’ll spot the odd Made In Chelsea star or two. Downstairs offers a lounge feel with soft and curvy seats, while the upstairs Blanchard Room has the elegance of a Georgian drawing room with a contemporary twist. The bar also hosts the ‘Soundtrack’, a regular acoustic night held with musical performances ranging from jazz to indie.

4. Eclipse South Kensington

Bar, Cocktail Bar, British

Eclipse bar, Kensington
© Mus Bencheikh / Eclipse

Get your evening off to a classy start in Eclipse, a compact Kensington cocktail bar on Old Brompton Road that opens at 5.30pm every day of the week, making it a great spot for after-work drinks. Part of an international chain, Eclipse is also represented in Barcelona and Istanbul. Walton Street in nearby Chelsea is home to the original Eclipse, but the Kensington bar has longer opening hours.

5. Barts, Sloane Avenue

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Contemporary

5. Barts, Sloane Avenue
© Nick Harvey / Getty Images

Step into the private apartment of the elusive Uncle Bart, a Prohibition-era speakeasy cocktail bar run by Chicago gangsters, where rules include “speak easy, drink hard” and “party like it’s 1929”. Hidden in Chelsea Cloisters on Sloane Avenue, Barts has regular events including a Speakeasy Singalong on Wednesdays from 9pm and Boarding School every Monday, where you can sip on your favourite cocktail while playing nostalgic board games.

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