WHY LIVE HERE?
For generations, Kensington has been an upscale, cosmopolitan and sought after part of London. With stately Victorian buildings and imposing embassies sprawling away from the Jacobean mansion that is Kensington Palace and its surrounding park, this thriving neighbourhood means business.
The wide, tree-lined Kensington Palace Gardens – also known as Billionaire’s Row – is home to some of the most expensive properties in the world. Elsewhere in the district lies a mixture of spacious family homes and slick international developments. The transport links are excellent – but arguably the area’s greatest asset is its wealth of cultural gems.
Kensington is home to the Royal Albert Hall, the majestic concert hall opened in 1871 by Queen Victoria. It also houses some of London’s finest museums – including the V&A, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. An exciting new addition to the cultural scene is the fabulous and critically acclaimed Design Museum, which opened on the site of the former Commonwealth Institute at the bottom of Kensington High Street in 2016.
Offering an excellent all-round education, Queen’s Gate School – whose alumnae include the Duchess of Cornwall, Nigella Lawson and Vanessa Redgrave – is a small girls’ school that takes pupils from the age of four to 18.
Thomas’s Kensington is a happy and dynamic co-educational pre-prep and prep school in the heart of the neighbourhood. One of four family-run schools that were established 40 years ago, Thomas’s Kensington offers its children a vibrant, exciting and creative start to formal education.
Princess Charlotte arrived at Willcocks Nursery School this term, putting it firmly on Kensington’s map. Fit for a princess, this traditional pre-school focuses on high standards and good manners.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge live with their expanding brood at the lavishly appointed Apartment 1A in Kensington Palace. Meanwhile, Prince Harry and his fiancée Meghan Markle have made their home in a pretty, rose-covered cottage in the grounds of the palace. JK Rowling has a house in Kensington, too.
RESTAURANTS & SHOPS
Kensington High Street and its antique-filled offshoot, Kensington Church Street, have been bustling, high-end shopping destinations for years. The landscape is gradually changing, however.
On the site of the world-famous Kensington Market – which was a smoky, iconic hub in the sixties, seventies and eighties for fashion designers, artists and musicians – now stands a Currys PC World. The arrival in 2008 of the vast Westfield mall in nearby Shepherd’s Bush diverted some customers away from the high street. The Odeon Kensington cinema, which first opened on the high street in 1926, was a local Art Deco landmark until it closed for redevelopment in 2015.
On the upside, though, a vibrant Whole Foods attracts the area’s yummiest mummies and yoga bunnies.
The area boasts several lovely restaurants, too. The Ivy has a pretty outpost on Kensington High Street, where the shepherd’s pie never fails. Tucked away on Kensington Church Street, Maggie Jones has been serving up mouth-watering, rustic British food for 40 years. A bit further up the hill is the small but perfectly formed British restaurant and bakery, Clarke’s.