Home to the best museums in the capital, the west-London neighbourhood of Kensington is a perfect spot to spend the day. Stroll its picture-perfect streets and peruse its upscale shops and restaurants. From beautiful gardens to bustling markets and world famous museums, the borough is full of things to see and do – Culture Trip rounds up the very best.
Visit the area’s famous museums
Kensington is home to some of the world’s best museums. Head to Cromwell Road for three major institutions – the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum – all of which offer free entry to the general public (apart from some special exhibitions that are worth booking in advance). If you’re a history buff or design geek, you’ll love the V&A, which showcases over 3,000 years worth of art, jewellery, fashion and furniture. For a family-friendly experience, you can’t get much better than the legendary Natural History Museum or Science Museum, which are packed full of fascinating and educational exhibits as well as hands-on interactive areas.
Head for a drink at the Churchill Arms, which is famed for the ornate display of flowers which cover the outside of the building. Built in 1750, the name of the boozer is a reference to Winston Churchill’s grandparents, who used to be regular customers. If you’re feeling peckish, don’t miss the authentic Thai food on offer, which is truly an unexpected delight.
Home to some of the most decorative buildings in London, Kensington is guaranteed to leave you with some serious house envy. It’s worth taking a stroll through the cute cobbled streets and stunning mews, especially the famous Holland Park Mews – well known for the uniform and picturesque nature of its houses.
Eighty-one Fulham Road in Chelsea was once home to the Michelin factory – the first UK headquarters and depot for the French tyre company. The famous Michelin Man can even be seen in the impressive stained-glass windows of Michelin House, built in 1911. It fell into disrepair until designer Sir Terence Conran and his team faithfully restored it in the late 1980s. It now houses the Conran Shop, which sells high-end furniture, an oyster bar and fine-dining establishment Bibendum.
If you’re in need of some retail therapy, head straight for Kensington’s bustling shopping district. High Street Kensington boasts everything you could ever wish for – from designer labels and flagship brands to niche independent stores – and, when you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll also find a great selection of adorable brunch spots and fine-dining restaurants.
Spanning seven floors and more departments than you can imagine, Harrods in Knightsbridge is arguably London’s most iconic shopping destination. It’s also steeped in history, launching in 1849 as a tea and grocery store. It housed the first-ever escalator, or moving staircase as it was then called, and had to be rebuilt in 1883 after a fire destroyed the original space. The owners, however, used the damage to their advantage and created the impressive emporium it is today.
If you enjoy the great outdoors and being close to nature, then make the most of the area’s green spaces. Kensington Gardens are a hit with visitors year-round and are one of eight Royal Parks in London, covering 265 acres (107ha) in total. Traditionalists will love paying a visit to Kensington Palace, which holds various royal-related exhibitions, while the Serpentine Galleries are suited to those with a keen interest in contemporary art, showcasing world-renowned temporary exhibitions throughout the year. It’s also worth checking out the Serpentine Pavilion – an annual architecture commission that’s built by one of the world’s greatest architects.
Situated in Hyde Park’s Kensington Gardens, the Albert Memorial is a famous part of British history, commemorating the death of Prince Albert. Queen Victoria commissioned the statue to honour the life of her beloved husband who died of typhoid in 1861. The memorial celebrates the love between this royal couple. If you’re a hopeless romantic, or a fan of the monarchy, make sure to visit this sentimental statue.
Made famous for its many movie appearances, Portobello Road is home to hundreds of antique dealers and market stalls, as well as one of the biggest antique markets in the world. Including everything from vintage cameras to handmade crafts, there’ll be something of interest to everyone. Besides the retail options, nearby Notting Hill has plenty of delicious eateries, perfect for taking a break between purchases.
Once known as an exclusive place for live classical music, the Royal Albert Hall now hosts different shows from a number of different genres. Some of the best musical productions have taken place on the premises of this magnificent, Grade I-listed building, such as the BBC Proms and world famous Brit Awards.