Whether you’re visiting London for a short time, or a LDN dweller looking to explore at the weekend, Kensington is a fascinating area to discover. The royal borough is crammed with everything from pretty houses and mesmerising museums to vintage shopping, cool cafes and parks perfect for picnics. Hotels in Kensington are aplenty, so if you’re staying in the area and are looking to walk, here’s what you could possibly get up to in a day.
AM: Portobello Market and Notting Hill
Start Your Day Exploring Portobello Road
Okay, so I cheated. Portobello is technically a little outside Kensington, but it’s a great place to start before you hit the main sights. Home to one of the most famous street markets in the world, it’s a must-do if you’re in the area. Hop off the tube at Ladbroke Grove, and spend a couple of hours browsing the stalls: you’ll find everything from antiques and handmade fashion to second-hand goods and souvenirs.
If you skipped breakfast, head to Electric Diner, attached to the legendary Electric Cinema: they have eggs any way you like them, waffles and pancakes as a sweeter alternative, and some pretty Instagrammable superfood lattes to wash it all down. For a quick coffee, Farm Girl Notting Hill are all about a casual setting, but I’m sure you’ll end up staying for their pretty breakfasts… I mean, who doesn’t want a French bulldog stencilled on their cappuccino?
Notting Hill Filming Locations
If you’re a fan of quintessentially British rom-com Notting Hill, make sure you stop at 280 Westbourne Park Road to spot the blue door that marks where Hugh Grant’s character William and his flatmate Spike lived. Further up, you’ll spot a gift shop cheekily named ‘Notting Hill’ (142 Portobello Road), this was where Will’s ‘Travel Bookshop’ was located.
On your way, look down some of the side streets for photo opportunities outside the colourful houses, and pretty mews.
Walking time from Ladbroke Grove to Notting Hill Gate: 20 mins walk
Stop for a Pint at the Churchill Arms
After a fair bit of walking, you’ve earned yourself a pint! One of the most photographed pubs in the city is the Churchill Arms, known for it’s exterior that bursts with foliage. This was the first London pub to open a Thai restaurant within (around 25 years ago), so it’s also a great spot for lunch. Speaking of food…
Walking time from Notting Hill Gate to the Churchill Arms: 4 min walk
Grab Lunch at Bone Daddies
Hiding on the first floor of Whole Foods on High Street Kensington is ramen bar Bone Daddies, arguably my favourite place to eat in the area. Their menu provides an array of tasty Japanese fare from bao buns to poke, and the ramen dishes come in a number of yummy varieties. It’s location also means it’s rarely super busy, so you can walk in without a reservation (pretty rare in tourist-heavy areas like this!)
If all of that didn’t tickle your fancy, then what’s wrong with you? Just kidding. Alternatives nearby are Dishoom (Indian), My Old Dutch (sweet and savoury pancakes) or if you’re really boujie, The Ivy.
PM: Hyde Park and Museums
With your belly full, it’s time to take on some more of the best sights. Depending on the weather or what you’re interested in, you can head in either direction from High Street Kensington…
The Design Museum and Leighton House Museum
A centre devoted to contemporary creations, the Design Museum is a fascinating homage to modern art. From commercial branding to engineering design and areas dedicated to kids, there’s something for everyone here. A fascinating roster of exhibitions are on rotation, I previously got tickets for a Stanley Kubrick showcase, which was ugh-mazing.
After wandering the museum, catch your breath in Holland Park right next door, with it’s stunning Kyoto garden. If you can’t get enough of design, head to Leighton House Museum close by, the former home of Victorian artist Frederic Lord Leighton and a stunning feat of highly embellished architecture.
Walking time from High Street Kensington to Design Museum: 7 min walk
Or… from High Street Kensington, head to Hyde Park and the more famous museums.
Discover Hyde Park and Kensington Palace
Just inside Hyde Park lies Kensington Palace, the birthplace of Queen Victoria and a working royal residence. Snap some pictures of the regal exterior, or if you’re inclined, you can access the public areas of the palace for an insight into royal life.
Beyond the palace, Hyde Park has loads to offer. Kill time in the autumn and winter with a brisk walk, a visit to Wellington Museum or the Serpentine Gallery for a slice of culture, or search for the secret pet cemetery. Come spring and summertime, you can rent a rowing boat or sun lounger, wander the Italian gardens, go statue-spotting or pick a spot for a picnic… the options are endless!
Walking the length of Hyde Park: just over 30 mins
Finish Your Day at One of the Iconic Museums
South Kensington is a veritable hub for world-famous museums, with the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum at their core.
Victoria and Albert Museum
The world’s largest museum for decorative art and design, I’ve been to the V&A (as it’s affectionately known) sooo many times and it gets better with each visit.
There are talks, courses and endless collections to explore, along with a number of stunning paid-for exhibitions. My current favourite exhibitions (still running!) are Mary Quant (until 16th February) and Tim Walker: Wonderful Things (until 22nd March).