Explore Kensington and Chelsea
- Best for Picnics in the park
- Locals love Designer-stocked charity shops
- Don’t miss A concert at the Royal Albert Hall
Summer in Kensington
It’s no surprise the young royals live here: from Sloane Square to Fulham Road, this rarefied corner of west London has the city’s most prized postcodes. Once the epicentre of London’s counterculture scene, the King’s Road is now lined with chic establishments. House prices may be eye-wateringly high, but there’s still a village feel to this neighbourhood. Where else could Harrods, that mothership for profligate spenders, be your corner shop? The rows of Georgian and Victorian houses are charming, the café culture genteel and the museums are iconic.
Thanks to its greener pastures, this Royal Borough is especially lovely in summer. Race pedalos on the Serpentine lake, then picnic in Hyde Park, stopping at the Serpentine Galleries along the way. Kids can play pirates on the ship in the Diana Memorial Playground, or go full-throttle at Holland Park’s action-packed play space. The V&A, Science Museum and Natural History Museum all put on seasonal distractions for little ones, too. After dark, get dressed up for Goat’s suave cocktails, Tonteria’s tequila-shot train and fresh-off-the-BBQ grub in The Jam Tree’s garden.
HARRODS87–135 Brompton Road, SW1X 7XL
A one-stop shop for those with hyphens in their name, Harrods is as unashamedly OTT as its Egyptian escalators. There’s the expected designer labels, beauty counters and food hall, but you can get your watch fixed or book a holiday, too. Its toy range will appease any little darlings. You can no longer buy a tiger or camel here, but an air of wild decadence still lingers.
HARRY’S DOLCE VITA27–31 Basil Street, SW3 1BB
If shopping has worked up an appetite, Harry’s is a gilded haven just a Manolo strut from Harrods. It was inspired by Venice’s Harry’s Bar and sprang from the London members’ club. The menu is an unfussy feast of handmade pastas, pizzas and other Med favourites. The décor (Fortuny fabrics, Murano glass, vintage brass) is another story… Dress to impress, and order the bellini.
SAATCHI GALLERYKing's Road, SW3 4RY
Charles Saatchi’s temple to modern art has lived in various London ‘hoods, but it seems most at home at the Duke of York’s HQ in Chelsea. Saatchi guided the YBAs to superstardom and has a knack for sourcing Next Big Things from all over the globe. The gallery’s no stranger to controversy, so expect passionate political statements and a few naughty bits. Entry is free.
BLUEBIRD CHELSEA350 King's Road, SW3 5UU
This glamorous art deco café wasn’t a former aviary, but a garage for the Bluebird Motor Company owned by legendary speedster Sir Malcolm Campbell. Nowadays, it’s all aflutter with lunching ladies who flock here for elegant Anglo-French fare. It’s a colourful, tree-pierced coop with painted girders and Celia Birtwell prints – an Instagram-worthy backdrop for date nights.
Holland ParkIlchester Place, W8 6LU
This is the leafy heart of London’s richest neighbourhood (Branson and the Beckhams bought here). It’s always been blue-blooded, as the grounds of Cope Castle and home of Lady Rich (yes, really). But its mind-blowing adventure playground, with a swing, climbing wall, zipline and other thrills, is a great leveller. Peace-seekers can meditate in the breathtaking Kyoto Garden.
NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUMCromwell Road, SW7 5BD
Dippy the Diplodocus (currently on tour) will be missed from the main hall, but this brilliant museum isn’t short on giant lizards and other monstrous creatures. Plus, it’s the most enticing invite to see a mineral collection you’ll get… Alongside tyrannosaurus bones, there are interactive exhibits on earthquakes, evolution and creepy-crawlies to fuel the curiosity of all ages.
HYDE PARKW2 2UH
Henry VIII formerly used Hyde Park as his personal hunting ground. Thankfully, all can now enjoy its greenery. Kensington Palace and gardens lie to the west, Hyde Park proper to the east, with the Serpentine lake in the middle. In summer, when the always interesting Serpentine Sackler Gallery opens its artist-designed pavilion, hire pedalos and sample the park’s ice-cream kiosks.
I love Holland Park. One minute you’re watching a giant chess game, the next you’re meeting a peacock or exploring a Japanese garden.
FIVE FUN FACTS
- Vivienne Westwood once owned an adult shop on King’s Road
- Julian Assange is rumoured to have a secret tunnel to Harrods
- Air public grievances at Hyde Park’s Speakers’ Corner – it’s open to all
- The Beatles performed sing-alongs at Kensington Palace
- Ogle the world’s most expensive flats at One Hyde Park
Image credits: © Getty; © Getty; © Getty; © John Carey; © Matthew Booth 2009; © Justine Trickett; © Getty; © Trustees of NHM; © Getty