Home to Hope, a 25-metre (82-foot) blue whale, and the world-famous Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, the Natural History Museum is a major institution in the capital’s museum landscape. Make a day of your visit with Culture Trip’s guide on things to do, eat and drink around this London landmark.
Natural History Museum
Natural History Museum, Building
A must on any London itinerary, the Natural History Museum is one of the city’s best free museums. The levitating skeleton of a blue whale, a dinosaur gallery and even a chunk of Mars are housed in the magnificent Romanesque building. Alongside its permanent displays, the museum hosts morning yoga, after-hours parties and the renowned Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. The museum is situated in South Kensington, a West London neighbourhood known for its regal architecture, eclectic dining and cultural institutions. Below, discover things to do, where to eat and places to stay, with Culture Trip’s guide to rounding out your day when visiting the Natural History Museum.
The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is a world-renowned destination for art and design that is home to over 2.3 million objects chronicling more than 5,000 years of human growth and creativity. It is a tremendous resource for interacting with and studying fashion, textiles, jewellery and more, as the V&A encompasses a range of displays capturing the world’s history through art and cultural artefacts, with a temporary space where exhibitions come and go.
A stroll through Chelsea down to the River Thames will take you to this gorgeous plant-filled garden – the oldest botanical garden in London. It was founded in 1673 for the purpose of training specialists for plant identification, and today is one of the most important centres of botany in the world. There are around 5,000 different plants within the walled garden, with glasshouses containing exotic species, an alpine garden, woodland plants and more. Be sure to indulge in a spot of lunch at The Physic Garden Café, too.
After a day exploring South Kensington and Chelsea, head to the upstairs room of the Hoop & Toy pub to enjoy a night of free stand-up comedy. The 100-seater venue, whose line-up includes both amateur and professional comedians, is the perfect space to settle down for some light-hearted laughs following a museum-packed day.
Fuel up for a day of museum-hopping at Muriel’s Kitchen, a cosy café in the centre of South Kensington. The kitchen serves up breakfast classics until 10am, such as bacon and eggs, omelettes and banana bread, while brunch can be enjoyed until 5pm. You’ll also find freshly squeezed juices, smoothies, milkshakes and a mouthwatering selection of cakes. Whether you’re after something healthy or hearty, Muriel’s Kitchen is one of Kensington’s best.
Get your fill of Italian food at Michelin-star chef Alfredo Russo’s chic restaurant situated in The Pelham hotel. Expect only the finest here, with each dish – from the burrata starter to the meatball main – delicious and expertly executed. This is the perfect lunchtime pit stop between museum visits in South Kensington.
Daquise opened in 1947, making it the oldest Polish restaurant in London. It’s changed from being a haunt for nostalgic Polish expats to one of the area’s most popular restaurants, serving up homely, first-class food at extremely reasonable prices in a romantic, tatty-around-the-edges setting. Daquise has a fascinating history. The restaurant was not only a favourite of Cold War-era personalities such as model Christine Keeler, but also the unofficial headquarters of exiled Polish president Edward Raczyński.
Eden Plaza Kensington is a great option for the budget traveler | Courtesy of Eden Plaza Kensington / Hotels.com
Eden Plaza, a townhouse hotel on the corner of Queen’s Gate, is a great option for those wanting to stay in the centre of South Kensington without coughing up the big bucks. The hotel offers small, simple rooms; a lounge bar; and is ideally located for exploring the area’s museums – the Natural History Museum is less than a three-minute walk away.
No two stays are the same at The Exhibitionist. This boutique hotel puts art at its heart, with each room and corridor uniquely decorated by individual artists and designers. Plus, a regular rotation of contemporary artists take over the hotel’s public spaces, while set pieces such as a life-size bull and a Jimmie Martin mannequin add colour to the open-plan ground floor.
Make yourself at home at Ashburn Court Apartments | Courtesy of Ashburn Court Apartments / Hotels.com
Stay at this upscale apartment hotel and experience life in one of London’s most affluent neighbourhoods. Each brightly lit suite and apartment includes a kitchen or kitchenette, comfortable beds and lounging areas. Situated on a quiet street just nine minutes down the road from the Natural History Museum, Ashburn Court is a home away from home in South Kensington.