Kensington has one of the most desirable postcodes in the world, including London’s most expensive street – Kensington Palace Gardens where homes swap hands for millions. Sophisticated, charming, culturally diverse and lively all at the same time, Kensington is one of the capital’s most vibrant neighbourhoods. Home to royalty, the rich and famous, residents can opt for quiet corners, pulsing entertainment or enjoy soaking up chic and cool culture from the nearby world-renowned museums and the iconic Royal Albert Hall.
In a nutshell, Kensington has something to offer everyone. Bordered to the north by Notting Hill, the west by Holland Park, Cromwell Road to the south and Kensington Palace Gardens to the east, the heart of the area is Kensington High Street. Kensington is also the residence of choice of many diplomats, with embassies and consulates in the finest streets.
Kensington residents have the best chance of living longer than residents in any other part of the UK. Life expectancy is an average 83.3 years – more than five years above average, according to the Office of National Statistics.
Visit Roof Gardens atop the former Biba store in Kensington High Street – from the seventh floor of the building, you have a unique bird’s eye view of London’s skyline from an oasis of green. Best of all, strolling around the gardens is free – and there’s a top class restaurant and coffee shop as well. Besides London Zoo, you are unlikely to spot a resident flamingo anywhere else in London.
Kensington Palace is open to visitors. The palace is the royal residence of Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Little known 18 Stafford Terrace affords a glimpse of Victorian life in a time capsule home preserved in the ‘house beautiful’ style.
Watch out for Harry Potter author JK Rowling and comic actor Rowan Atkinson – both have homes in Kensington.
Beautiful homes abound in Kensington that will tempt you to stretch your budget to the limit. The choice ranges from pied-a-terre apartments, mansion flats, mews houses and family terraces to stately mansions.
The super-rich live in Kensington Palace Gardens and Holland Park. The roads between Holland Park and Kensington Church Street are lined with large family homes, while smaller, cosy family homes nestle in roads such as Edge Street and Campden Street. To start looking for stylish mansion apartments, try Campden Hill and Abingdon Court. The Abingdon neighbourhood derives a name from a medieval abbey which once stood on the site.
Many of the homes are Victorian or Edwardian white-stucco or distinctive London brick and are grouped around quaint, private and enchanting garden squares. Developers have filled gaps with contemporary apartment blocks with stylish up-market living spaces. Few homes are farther than a short stroll from one of Kensington’s tube stations.
A point of note about Kensington is, much like Paris, the area lacks high-rise buildings.
Kensington is well served by buses, cabs and the London Underground, with stations at:
All these stations are Travel Zone 1, except for Earls Court, which borders Zones 1 and 2. Heathrow, the City and Canary Wharf are all within 30 – 40 minutes by tube, while London’s mainline stations are all in easy reach. The Westway and Great West Road are the nearest main routes out of London, linking with the M4 and M25.
Things to do
Living in Kensington means you are spoilt for choice for things to do.
If open space is your thing, Holland Park and Kensington Palace Gardens provide some peace and tranquillity.
Culture vultures head for the Natural History Museum, Science Museum or Victoria and Albert Museum a stone’s throw away along the Cromwell Road.
Holland Park also hosts an annual opera festival.
Kensington High Street is the shopping hub, where you will find designer shops and high street brands side-by-side.
Olympia, Earls Court is one of London’s main exhibition venues with a rolling calendar of trade and public events, sports and entertainment.
Pubs, bars, nightclubs and restaurants abound. Jazz lovers hang out at the Piano Kensington, just across the road from High Street Kensington tube station.
The Whole Foods Store is the largest of its kind in the UK and an organic foodies’ delight supplying high-class meat, fruit, vegetables and ingredients and offering in-house restaurants.
Lookout for designer stores and independents tucked between more well-known names.
Schools and colleges
Kensington has some of the best public and independent schools in London, ranging from nurseries to further education colleges. London’s universities and colleges are easily accessible by bus and tube. Imperial College and royal College of Music are on the doorstep, a short walk from the Royal Albert Hall.
Kensington has a London W8 post code and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is the local authority.