Back in the Sixties, Kensington was the neighbourhood where British and people from the rest of Europe would come to look for cheap rooms and accomodation. Nowadays, these same houses are sold for more than a couple of millions of pounds.
Fun (not so fun) fact: Kensington Palace Gardens, which is one of the most, if not the most, exclusive roads in the world where the majority of the mansions are occupied by foreign embassies, is still owned by the Crown Estate. But in 2004 the Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, reputed to be the world’s fourth-richest men, bought numbers 18 and 19 for £57 million. #pennies.
Anyway, even if you don't have Mr Mittal's budget, you can still look into Kensington's properties to find your new home among fine period houses, spacious flats and great rooms.
Kensington features a good choice of private schools, garden squares, plenty of shops and restaurants and easy access to central London. Keep reading to find out what makes Kensington such a great place to live in.
SHOPPING IN KENSINGTON
Kensington High Street is the one of the main shopping streets, while Fulham Road is one of the longest shopping streets – it stretches into the adjoining boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham! Here, there are plenty of antique boutiques, neat furnishings, stylish lighting and home accessories stores. Among all, The Conran Shop is my favourite. Leave at home your credit card if you are planning to visit Brompton Cross where designers' and high street labels can be found. There are other interesting independent shops in Kensington Church Street between the High Street and Notting Hill Gate.
In nearby Holland Street there is a cushion shop Yastik (Turkish for cushion) and Willer, an eclectic interiors shop while Slightly Foxed is the kind of bookshop which every neighbourhood should have.
OH! I almost forgot to mention Harrods! The most famous retailer in all of England (the world?). Spread out over five acres (how many football pitches is that?!?!), it is said that, at Harrods, you can buy anything from an elephant to a simple pair of shoes. (writer's note: they sold out of elephants last time time I checked though...)
EATING & DRINKING IN KENSINGTON
This is probably the most beautiful pub in London, known for its huge floral exterior (along with other instagrammers, I stalk this place every spring!), but on top of being beautiful on the outside, it also features a friendly staff and a basement bar and restaurant with DJs and kitsch 1950s decor.
If you are looking for a quintessential British pub experience, look no further. Zetland Arms still serves traditonal ales and very classic pub food.
The Hereford Arms
This is where Jack the Ripper came as his regular drinking spot. We don't know if this was before or after the murders. Sherlock Holmes' creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, made The Herford Arms famous just by coming here frequently. Was he Jack the Ripper?
This private membership nightclub is the place to come to spot celebrities and be seen. A-list DJs are usually playing here while great (if super expensive) cocktails make this place a great venue for a night hangout.
OUTDOOR IN KENSINGTON
If it isn't raining, Kensington is a great neighbourhood to spend time outdoor. There are the Kensington Gardens, with its palace (now full of theatrical events), the Serpentine Gallery, the famous and cute Peter Pan statue, and adjoining Hyde Park with the Serpentine and the Princess Diana fountain, are all on the doorstep.
WHAT TO DO IN KENSINGTON
This is the museum neighbourhood par excellence: the Victoria & Albert Museum is the place to go to explore intriguing and interesting sell-out exhibitions, and the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum continue to be the best places to take your children (but also your other half, friends and parents).
Local tip: head to the Royal College of Music to explore a collection of hundreds of instruments across five centuries.
TRANSPORT IN KENSINGTON
Three Tube stations serve the area: Kensington High Street, South Kensington and Gloucester Road, all on the District and Circle lines, with the Piccadilly line at South Kensington.
All are in Zone 1 and an annual travelcard for Zones 1 and 2 costs £1,104.
Read more about London in the guides below:
Spotahome Neighbourhood Guide: Best Things to Do in Shoreditch, London
Spotahome Neighbourhood Guide: Best Things to Do in Hampstead, London
Spotahome Neighbourhood Guide: Best Things to Do in Dalston, London
Spotahome Neighbourhood Guide: Best Things to Do in Notting Hill, London