Kensington, Knightsbridge and Chelsea
These upmarket areas of London, popular with well-to-do families and ex-pats, sit between Kensington Gardens and the river. Behind the busier streets you'll find elegant white stucco houses lining well-kept streets and leafy squares. Shoppers will love The King's Road, High Street Kensington, Harrods and Harvey Nichols and culture enthusiasts can explore some of London's finest museums along the the Cromwell road.
All this adds up to make this area the ideal base for mixing culture with shopping and keeping the kids amused on your city break in London.
The Science Museum is the perfect place to entertain children for a few hours, especially on a rainy day. Take them to Wonderlab where science experiments come to life and they can get involved and have some fun at the many interactive exhibits suitable for kids from 6-14.
Just across the road, the Natural History Museum is another great place for kids to explore and learn. Don't miss the Dinosaur Gallery with its skeletons and life-sized models, always a family favorite. Both of these are free entry, though you may have to pay for some exhibitions.
For older kids and parents the V&A is the place to go to discover the collections of art and design from the last 5000 years. From pop culture and royal wedding dresses to furniture and jewelry, it’s definitely worth a visit. The permanent collections are free entry, but you may have to pay for some exhibitions so don't forget you have 2-for-1 entry with your Eurostar ticket.
From the museums, it’s a 10 minute walk up Exhibition Road to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, where you can visit Princess Diana’s former home or take smaller children to the Diana, Princess of Wales' Memorial Playground.
Food and drink
If the museums have made you all hungry, there are plenty of restaurants and cafés around South Kensington tube station. You can find everything from burgers to pancakes just a few minutes’ walk away.
On a sunny day, why not drop in to the Whole Foods store on Kensington High Street and buy some healthy snacks for a picnic in the park, or try the food hall at iconic British store, Marks & Spencer just down the road. Pick up some local specialties like Scotch eggs and sausage rolls to really immerse yourself in the culture. Then, sit by the pond in the park and feed the ducks or find a shady tree and watch the world cycle, jog and walk by.
For something a bit more grown up, the architecturally stunning new Design Museum is just off Kensington High Street so, while you’re in the area, pop in to the elegant Parabola bar and restaurant for a restorative cocktail with the fashionable locals.
If you fancy a bit of shopping, you’ll find a good mix of high street brands along Kensington High Street, with all the familiar British and International brands.
For something a bit more high end, follow Kensington Street eastwards, past the Royal Albert Hall, to Knightsbridge. Here, you’ll find all the major designer stores along with the oh-so-chic Harvey Nichols, “Harvey Nicks” to local fashionistas. Just around the corner on Brompton road, you can drop into Harrods and its famous Food Halls and pick up some tasty gifts to bring home.
A little further south is the King's Road, made famous during the 60s by avant garde designers Mary Quant and Vivienne Westwood. You'll still see plenty of miniskirts, but it's a lot more mainstream these day with mainly high street brands, though Vivienne Westwood still has a shop at number 430.
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Image credits: © Medcraft Corp Photo 2014; © Medcraft Corp Photo 2014