Along with Mayfair and Chelsea, Kensington is one of the most desirable and affluent areas not only in London, but in the entire country. It’s an area steeped in history and is a culturally and scientifically significant area of London. This guide will give you the scoop on the Kensington way of life, the food, drink, sights and sounds of the area as well as advice on the very best Kensington aparthotels.
Kensington is famous for many things including its shopping streets, exhibition venues, world-class museums and some of the most expensive homes in the whole world! The area sits adjacent to Mayfair and Green Park to the east, Shepherd’s Bush and Hammersmith to the west, Paddington to the north and to the south is Earl’s Court, Chelsea and Fulham. It’s one of the most sought-after locations in London and an ideal base for those seeking to discover the city without being plunged into the very centre of busy London life
Serviced Aparthotels in Kensington
Staying in a Kensington aparthotel like the Collingham gives you the freedom to explore London at your leisure but also the space and peace and quiet you need to have a genuine home away from home – whether you’re entertaining guests, friends and business associates or just planning a cosy night in with a home-cooked meal. Far more spacious than a hotel room, your private apartment has everything you need to make the most of your trip to London.
Designed to capture a classic contemporary British feel, the Collingham is an ideal aparthotel for families and has been voted one of England’s Top 20 Hotels for Families in the TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards.
The apartments and penthouses on the upper floors have stunning views over Collingham Gardens and all have fitted kitchens and ample living and working space. Not only that, but we are close to Knightsbridge, Sloane Street and the King’s Road, otherwise known as ‘shopping heaven!’
And when you stay in a Kensington aparthotel such as the Collingham, you are just 15 minutes by tube from the buzz and bustle of the West End. You benefit from all the amenities and facilities you’d expect from a four star hotel in central London but with the added freedom to relax away from it all when you need a break.
A Picturesque Village in the Heart of London
Kensington is home to some of the world’s richest people, as well as the consulates and embassies of major world nations. The area has a distinct air of wealth without being pretentious – a delicate balancing act – and it boasts outstanding beauty with a village-type feel.
The architecture in Kensington is among of the best in Europe and in Hyde Park in the north east of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, you have one of the premier open spaces in London – which includes Kensington Palace, the Serpentine River and Gallery and the Memorial to Princess Diana.
The History of Kensington
The very first mention of what we now know as Kensington is in the Domesday Book of 1086. It was written as ‘Chenesitone’, probably translated from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘Kenesigntun’ (‘the land belonging to Kenesigne’). A variation appeared in 1396 as ‘Kesyngton’.
The manor of Kensington was granted by William the Conqueror to one of his trusted inner circle, Geoffrey de Montbray, a Norman nobleman, secular prelate, warrior, administrator and Bishop of the French diocese of Coutances from 1049–1093. Over the next century, the tenancy was passed to Geoffrey’s son Robert and then to Aubrey de Vere I, a Norman knight who had his tenure converted to a tenancy-in-chief. De Vere granted the land to Abingdon Abbey at the request of his eldest son and as the De Vere family became the earls of Oxford, the estate they owned in Kensington became known as Earls Court.
The Abingdon lands were known as Abbots Kensington and as thanks to the Benedictine monks of the abbey who cared for Aubrey’s ill son, they were bequeathed 270 acres in the area in the early 1100s and founded a church and a parish dedicated to St. Mary. The present structure was built in 1872 by Sir George Gilbert Scott, the most celebrated architect of the age. St Mary Abbots has the tallest spire in London and there has been a church in one form or another on the site since the start of the 12th century.
As with many of the areas in this part of London, Kensington stayed rural for hundreds of years, all through the Dark and Middle Ages until the start of the 17th century when in 1605, Sir George Coppin built a simple, two-floor Jacobean mansion that was bought in 1619 by the 1st Earl of Nottingham, who named it Nottingham House.
When William and Mary ascended the throne as joint monarchs, they needed a house to sooth William’s asthma (Whitehall Palace was too close to the Thames and at the time wasn’t the cleanest of rivers) and in 1689, they bought Nottingham House from the 2nd Earl of Nottingham for the princely sum of £20,000 and instructed a local architect by the name of Sir Christopher Wren to expand the house. It became known as Kensington Palace.
The royal court assumed residence just before Christmas the same year and in the 300+ years since, both major and minor royals have lived there. The current residents are Wills & Kate, aka the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke & Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent and also Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.
Around this time, the layout of Kensington was starting to take shape. It remained largely rural until the mid-1800s but the land was put to good use, supplying most of London’s food sellers with fruits and vegetables.
In 1851, the Great Exhibition signalled a paradigm shift in the social, political and physical landscape of Kensington. On the back of the resounding success of the exhibition, the commissioners bought a near 90 acre tract of land in and around what is now Exhibition Road.
This land was earmarked for institutions committed to the advancement of science, arts and education. Today, millions of people from all over the world come to the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Royal Geographical Society, the Royal College of Art, the Royal College of Music and Imperial College. They are the finest examples of their type in the world and are treasures in the British crown.
It was around this time that Kensington turned into the ultra-wealthy suburb it is today with the introduction of the railway. It linked Earls Court with the rest of London and opened up the west of the country. Architects and property developers started to build magnificent, Regency-style homes, giving the area the architecture it is now known for. Today, Kensington Palace Gardens, a beautiful, half-mile long tree-lined avenue is the most expensive road in the UK and its most prestigious address.
Walk up and down Kensington Palace Gardens and you’ll find the embassies of Russia, Nepal, Slovakia and the Czech Republic as well as the official residences of the Ambassadors of Russia, Finland, Kuwait, Japan and Saudi Arabia. Previously or currently, private residents have included steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, various members of the Rothschild banking dynasty, the Saudi royal family, Russian billionaires Roman Abramovich and Len Blavatnik, the Sultan of Brunei and Baron de Reuter, founder of the eponymous news agency.
One of the lesser known facts about Kensington is that it is home to one of the largest French communities outside of France and French-speaking Canada. There is a 4,000-strong French school on Cromwell Road and the consulate is around the corner on Cromwell Place. Walk around the Kensington streets and you’ll find French bookshops, cafés and restaurants and since the school is also an official centre of learning for the French government, they have a cinema, exhibitions, cultural events and language classes.
Kensington – Eat, Drink…
When you stay at the Collingham, you have the culinary world at your feet! From the Michelin-starred dining rooms of the River Café, Launceston Place, Kitchen W8, Outlaw’s at the Capital and the only starred pub in London, the Harwood Arms, through to restaurants, diners and pop-ups serving food from all over the world. You’ll also find dozens of great local pubs, most of which serve food of a very high quality.
For those travelling with young families, one of the biggest benefits of staying in family friendly aparthotels in Kensington, like the Collingham, is that you can cook at your convenience. If you do want to cook yourself, most of the local supermarkets will deliver straight to your apartment door and the area is full of independent food shops, delicatessens, farmer’s markets and stunning patisseries so you can find amazing ingredients and cook in the comfort of your own apartment.
Kensington can only be described as a shopper’s paradise and if you are staying at the Collingham – which remains one of Kensington’s most popular aparthotels – you’re always close to the high-street action! Kensington High Street is packed full of designer shops, department stores and famous chains. Five minutes away in Chelsea, Sloane Street and the King’s Road are two of the most famous shopping streets in London. You’re also close to Harrods and Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge. However, one of the biggest draws of Kensington is the amazing selection of antique and gift shops, quirky independent shops, one-off boutiques and specialist food shops selling amazing food from the farthest-flung places.
Travelling to Kensington
If you chose to stay at a Kensington aparthotel then you’ll be well placed to explore the city. The Collingham is located just a few minutes’ walk from Earls Court (District Line) and Gloucester Road (Piccadilly Line) as well as a less than ten minute taxi ride from High Street Kensington (district and Circle Lines) and South Kensington stations (Piccadilly, District and Circle Lines). The mainline stations of Victoria, Paddington and Charing Cross are also close by.
Aparthotels in Kensington – Why Choose the Collingham?
The Collingham is a family-run boutique aparthotel in Kensington and, as an independent provider, we strive to provide every guest with a first-class experience from the moment they walk through the door to the moment they leave.
Our staff are on hand to ensure you are as comfortable as possible and make the most of your time in London. You can choose from spacious studio apartments through to a penthouse apartment with incredible views over Kensington and beyond – from where you can live, dine, entertain and relax in understated elegance and supreme comfort.
If you’re looking for the ideal aparthotel in Kensington, the Collingham ticks every box.