The ultimate Kensington neighbourhood guide


The ultimate Kensington neighbourhood guide

Making up half of the royal borough (with Chelsea), well-groomed Kensington’s ritzy residences, world-famous museums and pristine parks leave a lasting impression

Millie Field

BY Millie Field30 March 2024

You’ll easily hit your daily steps navigating through Kensington’s prime postcodes; and with farmers’ markets, established eateries and maze-like mews adorning the area, it’s easy to see why the royals have laid down roots here. Steer away from South Kensington’s museum trinity, popular with many a camera-wielding tourist, and head for less-coveted corners: Notting Hill-bordering brunch spots, former rockstar digs and picturesque parks.

Our insider guide to the Kensington area spotlights winding walks, secluded gardens, quintessential pubs, lesser-known museums and more – plus where to lay your weary head after a day of cosmopolitan pursuits…


Brother Marcus

Despite its royal residents, Kensington isn’t all about high tea and British brews – the borough keeps on-trend with specialty coffee spots and camera-eats-first brunch places. Over Under Coffee and Hagen Espresso Bar are go-tos for takeaway hot drinks, and we also like gluten-free Dendara and Kuro Bakery for a flaky pastry alongside a strong cup of joe. Hjem has two cafés in the area, but their Kensington branch is a charming ‘hood hangout, and if you can’t bag a table inside, the plant-framed wall outside is a popular pick for day-starting debriefs. If you require more sustenance than a croissant and cappuccino, Brother Marcus serves up healthy classics and Eggbreak lives up to its name (just arrive early on the weekends to beat the brunch-crazed queues).


Kyoto Garden

Now you’re adequately caffeinated, put it to good use: weave down cobbled mews streets and photogenic roads – top stops on our Kensington area guide include Kynance Mews and Launceston Place, or play connect the dots with the borough’s blue plaques (you’ll find Princess Diana’s on the Old Brompton Road). For a verdant tonic from the ever-busy high street, stroll through Holland Park’s Kyoto Garden, which has peacocks, manicured grounds and a meditation-inducing waterfall, or practise your queen-like wave as you wander past royal residence Kensington Palace into Hyde Park. Then swap royals for rock royalty, swinging by Garden Lodge and the Tower House, Freddie Mercury and Jimmy Page’s respective former pads, both set to incite serious house envy. The musical theme continues at the Royal Albert Hall with its soul-stirring shows, and while the Natural History, Science and Victoria & Albert museums are always a good time, head off the beaten track to the newly instated Photography Centre at the latter, the aesthetically pleasing Design Museum or the dazzling Middle Eastern-inspired former home of Victorian cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne, Leighton House Museum.



Continuing on our Kensington guide, it’s easy to work up an appetite with all the scenic strolls the borough has to offer, and we know just the places to refuel at. At jazzed-up Jacuzzi soak up the leafy mezzanine, voyeuristic bathrooms and tête-à-tête banquettes, plus tableside serving for that pecorino-wheel truffle cacio e pepe. Daphne’s is a longtime Italian favourite in the heart of South Kensington, delivering dishes as upscale and classic as the space. Cambio de Tercio is one of the borough’s best-kept secrets with its artful tapas plates and engaging Spanish staff (the eight-hour roasted tomatoes are ‘chef’s kiss’). Intimate Mazi has refined Greek plates, Claude Bosi at Bibendum serves French fare in an architecturally significant setting and Kitchen W8 updates its tasting menu seasonally.



Deck yourself out in designer gear at Harrods, which glitters like Oz’s Emerald City. However, shopping in Kensington is a bit more low-key; pretend to be a local at Supermarket of Dreams, which lives up to its name with seasonal produce, wild fish and niche wines, which are best showcased at their izakaya nights. Brush shoulders with West London ‘yummy mummies’ stocking up on fresh pasta and British produce at South Kensington Farmers’ Market or the sizeable Whole Foods (we love the cheese room); quaint South Kensington Books is a just-as-worthy-as-next-door-Notting Hill backdrop for a rom-com, and you’ll leave Japan House laden with matcha kits, artisan ceramics and wanderlust-inspiring cookbooks.


The Churchill Arms

Pubs are aplenty in Kensington. Post-walk pints are soaked up with Thai food at the Churchill Arms – that is if you can find the door among all the flags, fairy lights and flowers. Or for something more understated, the Scarsdale Tavern has a heated outdoor terrace and cosy fireplace indoors. For something sleeker, oak-panelled K Bar in the Kensington Hotel impresses with inventive drinks – a cocktail with cheddar, wasabi and nori, anyone? – and wine bar Drop Kensington serves up charcuterie platters alongside an extensive bottle selection. There’s also Evans & Peel Detective Agency, a tucked-away speakeasy only detectable by a vintage street lamp, and the characterful Bob Dylan-approved Troubadour has long been the place for a drink and dance in Kensington.


The Franklin

It’s no surprise that you’ll get the royal treatment at Kensington’s best hotels – the Franklin boasts Princess and the Pea-esque beds and luxuriously appointed bathrooms in a sleek dove grey and cream palette; the Portobello Hotel is a renovated Victorian townhouse with a rock ’n’ roll edge (here’s where Johnny Depp and Kate Moss allegedly filled their bath tub with champagne and Alice Cooper checked in with his pet snake), gilded ceilings and ornate wallpapers, and the artistic rooms at the Ampersand Hotel muse on the area’s famous museums, as do their afternoon tea offerings – the kids’ Sci-Fi-themed one emerges from dry ice and has edible planets, dinosaurs buried in chocolate ‘dirt’ and jellies in petri dishes.

Explore more of the neighbourhood from our complete collection of Kensington hotels

(Jacuzzi image by Charlie McKay)