From a century-old Palace to the latest fashion, you can find it all in the Royal Borough of Kensington.
Ivy's Guide to Kensington
A Brief History
Our team loves a historical look at London, so we wanted to put together a little bit of interesting information on this wonderful part of the city. Originally a small village, Kensington grew up quickly into the cosmopolitan sophistication with which it is synonymous today. When William III (William of Orange, husband to Queen Mary), became King of England following the Glorious Revolution of 1688, he moved his court to Kensington Palace. Today, the Palace is home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Kate).
Set in the heart of central London, it is no surprise that writers, artists and actors have always flocked to this part of town. Kensington's small side streets and quiet squares have been home to a myriad of famous names, such as T.S Eliot and William Makepeace Thackeray. A notable example is Kensington Square, where George Bernard Shaw’s muse, the Edwardian actress named Mrs Patrick Campbell lived. She famously introduced Shaw to the woman who would become his inspiration for Eliza Doolittle: Isadora Duncan. One moonlit evening, Mrs P noticed someone dancing, without a strip of clothing on. It was a cold night, so out she went, and asked the girl who she was and where she came from. Isadora answered that she came from the moon, which Mrs P accepted with equanimity, but nevertheless insisted she come inside. And from this chance – and unusual meeting – Isadora Duncan’s dancing career was launched, thanks to Mrs P’s connections and enthusiasm.
World Famous Museums
The Natural History Museum, The Victoria & Albert Museum and The Science Museum are all on your doorstep. Visit the lesser known Mosaic Rooms, which hosts beautifully curated exhibits of Islamic art and culture.
Kensington Palace, home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, is surrounded by acres of beautiful parkland. Lay out a rug in front of the Palace gates and enjoy one of the best picnic spots in London. From Kensington High Street, walk up Kensington Palace Gardens - known as Billionaire's Row - and admire the Embassy mansions and private homes of the uber-wealthy. Take high tea (with or without Champagne) at the Kensington Orangery for the full English experience.
The Deli Bar makes a great full English breakfast. Kensington Square Kitchen is a very pretty brunch spot that celebrates British, seasonal produce. Tom's Kitchen, run by celebrity chef Tom Atkins, is another institution of British cooking and makes extraordinarily fluffy pancakes.
Lunch & Dinner
For a great bistro with a relaxed atmosphere, try Chez Patrick. Balan's of Earls Court has one of the best Sunday lunches in London. We also recommend 222 Veggie Vegan for plentiful, award-winning food.
Pubs and Bars
There's almost too many good pubs in the area. Our favourite are The Colton Arms, The Drayton Arms, The Queen's Arms or The Abingdon for a typically British local pub experience. If you want more than pint, the Harwood Arms serves Michelin starred food.
For a taste of the high-life head to Babylon at the Roof Gardens, 100m above Kensington High Street.
High Street Kensington has it all - department stores, major fashion labels and smaller boutiques tucked away up side streets.
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