Competing with the Borough of Westminster, with its vast range of tourist attractions and hotspots, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea often gets its nose shoved out. But, if you wander through its streets, taking in the wonderful architecture, you will soon find there is more than meets the eye.
Exhibition Road Museums
Exhibition Road has three world-famous museums right next to each other; the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the V&A. It really is a museum-goers paradise, and best of all, they are all free! The three museums have something for every taste, from hands on experimentation in the Science Museum to thought provoking art and sculpture in the V&A. You could easily make a day out of the three, and once you are all museum-ed out, take a short walk around the corner to Gloucester Road station where you will find a hub of cafes and restaurants to refuel! As mentioned, entrances to the museums are free, however, check their respective websites for information and ticket prices for special exhibitions.
London’s answer to Magnolia Bakery in New York, Hummingbird serves up a delicious range of cupcakes, cakes, brownies and cheesecakes! An American-style bakery, the business was founded in 2004 and has been committed to bringing great tasting, American inspired treats to the London masses. The original store is located in Notting Hill, and the company now owns five more bakeries across the city. The bakery was central to bringing the ‘red velvet’ craze to the UK, and to be fair, their red velvet is gorgeous; indulgent and velvety smooth. Hummingbird continues to innovate and brings new and exciting flavours to its bakeries through its series of monthly specials. Well worth popping in! Go on, you deserve it!
Royal Hospital Chelsea
The Royal Hospital Chelsea is a retirement and nursing home for 300 or so ex-British soldiers who are unfit for active duty, either due to injury or old age. The hospital is a purpose-built property and grounds, located on Royal Hospital Road. You may be familiar with its inhabitants, who are commonly known as the ‘Chelsea Pensioners’. Tours operate on the property, teaching visitors about the daily lives of the staff and occupants of the hospital, as well as the history of the building. You will be privileged to see the interior of the building which is both fascinating and unique. Tours are led by a Chelsea Pensioner, last for ninety minutes and must be booked four weeks in advance via telephone (02078815516) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Alongside the iconic Selfridges department store on Oxford Street, Harrods is known the world over for luxury, style and quality. Located on Brompton Road, the Harrods brand is one of the most well-known, iconic brands in the world. Occupying a 5-acre site, with over one million square feet of floor space, Harrods sells product over 330 departments, making it the biggest department store in Europe. Offering a wide range of products and services, from clothing, jewellery, pets and pet accessories, toys, food and drink to furniture, home appliances and house-wares. You could easily spend a couple of hours in Harrods, whiling away your time spending away your next pay check. And once you’re tired of all the shopping, and fawning over that watch that you can’t quite justify, head to one of the amazing on-site restaurants for a spot of lunch!
Probably the most quintessential British practice, afternoon tea soothes your soul and re-charges your batteries for the evening ahead. And there are some lovely places to stop for afternoon tea in Kensington & Chelsea. The Botanist on Sloane Square is a popular haunt for locals and tourists alike, and serves up an absolutely delicious afternoon tea. The scones are particularly yummy! Alternatively, head to The Milestone Hotel; a warm, cosy retreat which is the perfect place to relax with the classic range of French pastries, scones (with Devonshire clotted cream) and finger sandwiches of an afternoon tea selection. And if you want to go all out, and Parisian, Laduree at Harrods serves afternoon tea, which of course includes its famous macarons!
Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall is a world-famous concert hall, best known for holding the annual summer Proms concerts since 1941. With a capacity of around 5,270 patrons, and a range of shows, events and concerts spanning the whole year, there is certainly something for everyone’s taste. Since its opening by Queen Victoria in 1871, the hall has played host to the world’s leading artists across numerous performance genres, and each year it hosts more than 350 events ranging from classical concerts, ballet, opera, award ceremonies, charity performances and modern musical genres events. The website, royalalberthall.com, has the full programme of events up until February 2016.