Although most people will know Kensington for Harrods, the National History Museum and of course the beautiful Mews, this gracious London area has so much more to offer! Having worked in the area for a while I fell in love with the pristine facades and the beautiful trees lining the sides of the road. In fact, I would often walk a few tube stops over just so I could take in the feel of this beautiful gem.
I have compiled a list of 10 amazing things to do in Kensington you might want to consider on your next trip to London.
1. The Natural History Museum
The natural history museum is one of the most famous museums in Kensington. The museum houses over 80 million animals, rocks, fossils, plants and skeletons and when you are not really into these kinds of things, the building itself is a good reason to visit anyway.
The museum – when I went, was quite dry. Where the science museum has loads of great things to do for kids, has amazing quizzes and interactive screens, you will probably not find any of that in the Natural History Museum.
But as the museum is free and right next to the exhilarating Science museum – and not far from the Victoria and Albert Museum (both will come up further down) you might want to hop in anyway, even just to see the wonderful architecture or the massive whale skeleton in the main hall.
2. The Science Museum
The Science museum is located right next to the Natural History Museum and is an exhilarating place that explains the importance of science and mechanics from the old and massive steam engines and spinning Jennies to cutting edge scientific discoveries.
The Science Museum, in Kensington has many great exhibitions ranging from the first man on the moon to the design of phones and the scientific discoveries made in telecom. In contrast with the Natural History Museum the Science Museum is very modern and engages young and old with interactive touch screens, videos, quizzes and little known – but very interesting, facts about everyday life.
Just like with the Natural History Museum entry to the Science Museum is totally free.
3. The V&A Museum
The Victoria and Albert museum has in fact very little to do with my favourite British Monarch and her husband but has been named after Victoria and Albert after Victoria inaugurated the building and the collection.
The V&A houses the larges collection of decorative arts and is an absolute marvel to visit! It took me quite some time to finally wander in, and I could have kicked my own ass for not doing so earlier.
From oriental decorative arts to beautiful Persian rugs and typically English porcelain. You can find all with lots of detailed and interesting information in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The museum is one of these places where you can in fact lose yourself and I would not be surprised to hear you spent the whole day marvelling at the little plates, the beautiful ornamental furniture or the gorgeous glasswork.
4. The Kensington Gardens
London has so many great open and green spaces. They are perfect for picnics or just chilling in the sun. Kensington Gardens is a great park that does not feel as open, as crowded or as touristy as the bigger parks such as Hyde Park or Regent’s Park.
The Kensington Gardens include a statue of Peter Pan and houses the beautiful Albert Memorial which is rather hard to miss. I would definitely recommend walking up to it to take a closer look at this magnificent ornate memorial.
Also have a little look at the Serpentine Galleries which are museums and exhibition spaces for modern and contemporary art.
5. Visit Kensington Palace
Ever fancied seeing how princess and princesses live? You can do that when visiting Kensington Palace. Prince William and Princess Kate live in Apartment 1 A of Kensington Palace and although you will obviously not be able to take a peek at the Prince’s bedroom, you can visit various Royal State Apartments and the beautiful gardens.
It was first arranged that Prince Harry and his wife Megan would live in a cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace but they ultimately preferred to live in Frogmore Cottage, Windsor.
6. Visit the Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall is probably one of the most beautiful and most impressive venues in the United Kingdom. This masterpiece from the Victorian Era is well-known for having seen some of the most legendary concerts of both classical as contemporary conductors and bands.
But the Royal Albert Hall is not only known for its musical events. You can also go to the movies at Royal Albert Hall, the BBC Proms are hosted here and it was and is the backdrop for many great sports events and academic lectures.
Did you know Muhammed Ali fought in the Royal Albert Hall three times? That Churchill made some of his most famous speeches at the Royal Albert Hall? That Albert Einstein made a plea for World Peace in the hall, and that there were no less than 25 suffragette meetings in these rooms?
7. 18 Stafford Terrace
I have always been intrigued by the past and if I would have a time machine I would definitely go back to Victorian Era to find out what life was like. As there is no such thing as a time machine (yet) and as I would be way too poor to buy one anyway, 18 Stafford Terrace is the closest we can get to being zapped to the past.
This beautifully restored terrace lets you experience a Victorian Household in London. It was hone to the Sambourne Family who were a fairly well-off couple. Edward might be best known for his satirical drawings that appeared in the publication “Punch”.
The home is completely decked out as it would have been in the Victorian Era. With beautiful china and wooden kitchen utensils to meticulously kept beds and vanity tables. I would recommend visiting 18 Stafford Terrace when you are in the area and when you are – just like me – a massive history geek.
It is important to check the opening hours and timings of this little gem as 18 Stafford Terrace is not always open to the public.
8. Brompton Cemetery
Brompton Cemetery is actually not in Brompton, it is just on the edge on the side of Kensington. This beautiful Victorian cemetery is a beacon of rest in an otherwise quite hectic city. I have only been to Brompton Cemetery once but walking through the graves and seeing the absolutely marvellous mausoleum always stayed with me.
Brompton Cemetery is open daily and free to enter. Did you know that one of the mausoleums is also believed to be a fully functioning Victorian Time Machine? Or that is what the London myths and Legends make of it!
9. Holland Park
Holland Park is considered to be one of the most impressive and most beautiful parks in London. Although there is a London area names after this magnificent park, Holland Park lies in Kensington. Holland Park is known for the many dragonflies that buzz around the water features and the beautiful Japanese inspired gardens.
You will also find an amazing variety of roses and if you are tired of looking at plants you must definitely explore the streets around Holland Park as these typically London Terraces will leave you breathless.
10. The Churchill Arms
The Churchill Arms is probably one of the most famous pubs in London. This Kensington Pub is decorated with thousands of beautiful flowers. It has been featured in almost every single guide book and attracts many tourists for pictures.
However when you step inside you will experience a mix between good old British pub hospitality and amazing Thai food.
Whether you sit down to a coke, a pint, or a Pad Thai, I would recommend at least drinking ( and if you like Thai food also eating as the food is ah-mah-zing) something at the Churchill Arms.
Where to Stay in Kensington
Kensington is a lovely place to stay and many of these gorgeous terraces are in fact hotels. There are plenty of options to stay in Kensington, although not all of them are great.
Many of these amazing terraces and hotels are actually quite run down and thrive on tourists who are looking for a mid-range but beautiful hotel and that are blinded by the charm of the exterior. Been there. Done that.
I would recommend researching the hotel you are planning to stay at as my parents had to move hotels twice due to small rooms, dirt, fungus and just overall shoddiness.
I have put together 6 hotels you might want to have a look at: 2 cheap hotels, 2 mid-range and 2 luxury hotels in the area of Kensington.
Cheap: ($15 – $50 per night)
Mid-Range ($50 to $150)