Thursday, 26, June 2014

10 Lovely Things to Do in Kensington

Kensington Palace Gardens, London

- Kensington Palace Gardens, London

Once you’ve settled into your hotel – or suite, if you’re feeling lavish! – we recommend visiting some of the many local attractions.  First up; Kensington Palace. The official London residence of – among others - the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (aka William, Catherine, and of course, baby George!), its lavish state rooms are open to the public from 10am – 6pm, Monday to Sunday. In the surrounding Kensington Gardens, be sure to check out the famous ‘Elfin Oak’. This 900-year-old tree stump was carved and painted in 1928 by artist Ivor Innes to look as though elves, gnomes and other small creatures are living in its bark! Comedian and poet Spike Milligan was a big fan of this charming piece of art, and led a campaign in 1966 to have it restored.

Notting Hill, London

- Notting Hill, London

Next, why not head for a stroll around the nearby iconic area of Notting Hill? Home to many a hip UK celeb (step forward Damon Albarn, Stella McCartney and Robbie Williams), here you’ll find trendy restaurants, clubs and bars - and of course, you can check out Hugh Grant’s famous blue door in Notting Hill from the 1999 film of the same name! One of the area’s most exciting attractions though is Portobello Market; a world-famous, mile-long street market that runs through the centre of Notting Hill and offers everything from clothes, antiques, handcrafted items and (on weekdays) fresh fruit and veg. Should you start to feel peckish, be sure to make a stop-off at Hummingbird Café (133 Portobello Road) to sample one of their amazing cakes.

Coffee and cakes in Kensington

- The Hummingbird Cafe, Notting Hill (Image courtesy of The Hummingbird Cafe)

A spot of retail therapy next! On Kensington High Street you’ll find an eclectic mix of high-street stores (Next, River Island, Miss Selfridge), designer destinations (Barkers Arcade; home to House of Fraser, Jaeger and Karen Milan) and quirky antique shops selling art deco pieces and delicate Oriental porcelain. You’ll also find the Kensington Market just off Church Street – fashion fans will adore its wide selection of clothes and accessories.

Kensington Roof Gardens, London

- Kensington Roof Gardens, London (Image Courtesy of Kensington Roof Gardens)

You’ll no doubt have worked up an appetite by now, and since you’re in the area, we suggest you visit the stunning Roof Gardens (99 Kensington High Street). Located 100 feet above the ground, you won’t believe you’re still in the city-centre, as these lush gardens (spread across an impressive 1.5 acres) are home to a huge variety of trees, flowers, fish – and even flamingo! Though the club is members-only, the gardens are open to the public to visit free of charge, and a full menu is available to enjoy either outside, or if it’s chilly, in the luxurious Babylon Restaurant.

Leighton House Museum

- Leighton House Museum

Eaten your fill? It’s time for some culture! Leighton House Museum (12 Holland Park Road) is the former ‘private palace of art’ of Victorian artist Lord Leighton (1830 – 1896), who lived there for 30 years. Built to his very specific specifications, the building served as the artist’s lavish home studio, housing an extensive collection of his and his successful contemporaries’ paintings and sculpture. An impressive piece of architecture in itself, the house features an ‘Arab dome’, complete with intricate mosaics and delicate Islamic tiles.

Having enjoyed a slice of what Kensington has to offer, why not round off the evening with a cocktail? (You’re on holiday after all!) The Aubrey Bar in The Kensington Hotel boasts a full wine and cocktail menu, in exquisite and luxurious surroundings. Enjoy!