London neighbourhood guide: Kensington

So, you’re considering living in Kensington – between Hyde Park, world-famous museums, great shopping and delicious eats, we can understand why. Flatshares in South Kensington and rooms to let in West Kensington are among the most popular on our site. Let’s find out why…

A brief history lesson:
The London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has long drawn the affluent thanks to its impressive architecture and central location in the metropolis. Home to the monarchy since 1689, the area of South Kensington houses some of the world’s greatest museums and institutions (Natural History Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Imperial College London, the Royal College of Art, and more), as well as some of the most exclusive real estate. Hard to believe that until the 19th century, it was a largely undeveloped agricultural area supplying London’s fruit and veg. Hyde Park hosted The Great Exhibition of 1851, which provided the basis for the area’s world-famous sites.

The Natural History Museum, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London, England, UK

Who lives there now:
This leafy and elegant West London district is a popular choice for French expats (there’s a large French Institute and lycée in the neighbourhood), who are drawn to living in one of the biggest French communities outside of France. It’s also popular with Americans, Australians, Middle Easterners, Russians, Spaniards, Italians and moneyed Brits. West Kensington (primarily located within the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham) is known as the shabbier end of Kensington (but is still lovely) and its residents enjoy cheaper rents, making it a popular destination for younger City employees and professionals working in Central London.

Places to eat, drink and be merry:
There’s plenty of celeb-spotting at Kensington hangouts like Japanese hotspot Zuma, while Maggie Jones has been serving up delicious dishes in its rustic setting for over 40 years. For cocktails – and a glimpse of the Made in Chelsea set – try Eclipse on the Old Brompton Road and head to Kensington Roof Gardens for dinner, dancing and fabulous surroundings.

Harrods, Kensington, London, England, United Kingdom, Europe

Shopping and culture:
When it comes to shopping meccas, it doesn’t get any better than Kensington, with 150-year-old department store Harrods in its orbit (did you know the mega-store had over 330 departments, including Old Maps and Prints and an on-site pet store and spa?). For of-the-moment British labels, fashion aficionados head to Harvey Nicks across the road, and the area also has a bevy of top-notch designer shops (for high street must-haves, High Street Kensington has you covered). The neighbourhood is also cultural epicentre – take in a musical performance at the Royal Albert Hall, explore outer space at the Science Museum and browse costumes and decorative arts from around the world at the V&A.

England, London, Kensington, Queen Victoria Statue and Kensington Palace

Parks and recreation:
Between Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and Holland Park, residents of this leafy neighbourhood are spoilt for choice. There are also plenty of smaller green spaces in some of the area’s impressive (and expensive) squares, like Onslow Square and Thurloe Square.

Transport links:
Local tube service runs from South Kensington station (served by the Circle, District and Piccadilly lines), High Street Kensington (served by the District and Circle lines) and West Kensington (served by the District Line). Multiple buses serve the borough (both bus lines that are contained within Kensington and those that will take you to other London destinations).

Fun facts:

In the 17th century, Kensington Palace was considered a ‘rural retreat’ that royals would go to for fresh air (King William III moved in to help treat his asthma).

Cost of rent:
Get an idea of how much a room to let costs in Kensington by checking out our vast selection. Need a flatmate looking for a short let in Kensington? Or are you after a double room flatshare in South Ken?

Don’t miss our selection of spare rooms to rent in Kensington…

Any downsides? 
These posh surroundings come at a cost – not only is rent high in Kensington, but restaurants and clubs are on the pricy side. However, not everyone can boast they live around the corner from Hyde Park…


All photographs courtesy of @Alamy

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