Nestled near the heart of London, Kensington is home to the aptly named Kensington Gardens and Kensington Palace, the Royale Albert Hall, and the Serpentine Gallery. For a first-time London visitor, these are the standard fares; for the bolder, worldlier traveler, however—true Londoners either by birth or in heart—there is another side of Kensington waiting to be explored.
We Aren’t In Kensington Anymore (Are We?)
Whether you are looking for something out of the ordinary for your own enjoyment or you are hoping to dazzle on a date, Kensington hosts a menagerie of attractions not found in the standard travel guide.
1. Unexpected Cuisine at The Churchill Arms
Okay, so this one isn’t exactly a well-kept secret. The Churchill Arms is the pub in Kensington. Actually…it’s pretty much the pub in London. This historic spot (built in 1750!) is famous enough that Winston Churchill’s own grandparents were regulars. It has such flare, though, that it deserves to be on this list. Situated on a corner lot, its well-groomed exterior is decorated with an abundance of flowers and a classic dark wood façade. The thing that sets this ale house and eatery apart from the rest is the fact that The Churchill Arms—drum roll, please!—is also home to an incredible Thai Restaurant! Surprise twist! Break away from traditional pub fare with some noodles, rice, and curry.
2. Brash Dramas at The Royale Court Theater
The rest of the world can keep their Hamlets, Sound of Musics, Nutcrackers, and kin. At The Royale Court Theatre, you’ll find productions that push the envelope so far that it might just fall right off the edge. Dedicated to their writers, The Royale Court Theater showcases novices and masters alike. Their aim is to give center stage to shows on the forefront of innovation. In the past The Royale Court Theater has been home to such shows as “The Art of Dying” by Nick Payne, “Get Santa” by Anthony Neilson, and “Bang Bang Bang” by Stella Feehily.
3. Tee Time at Urban Golf: Kensington National
Golfing isn’t just for dad’s generation anymore; Urban Golf transforms the sport into a casual-dress, cocktail-bar-nearby, simulated experience. With no actual balls to lose, no sand in your shoes, and a coaching suite to help you master your swing, this is the best big-city answer to golf (and maybe even better than the real thing). The clubhouse is decorated with Victorian flair, making for a comfortable, relaxing, swanky afternoon.
4. Easy Listening at Piano Kensington
Elegant, low-key (please excuse the pun), and entertaining, piano bars are making their way into London, and Piano Kensington is hitting a high note. Serving great food and drinks, amusement and music abound in this upbeat venue. The stereotypical piano bar plays out as a campy gimmick; owner Bazz Norton skirted that pigeonhole entirely, effectively crafting an inviting, all-encompassing atmosphere. Everyone who visits Piano Kensington agrees that it’s worth staying for dinner and the show.
5. Breathtaking Delights at The Roof Gardens
Hiding at the pinnacle of Kensington is London’s Eden: The Roof Gardens. Dining, dancing, daydreaming—whatever your pleasure, The Roof Gardens have something to offer. Free to visit or available to rent if you’re interested in splurging on a private event, these luscious green spaces are gorgeous, romantic, suave venues, trimmed and tailored to create an elite experience that is literally above all of the rest.