famous museums, the Royal Albert Hall, well-kept parks. South Kensington is known for a lot of things, but its luxury hotels aren’t necessarily one of them, at least that’s what you might think. Behind a grand neoclassical facade is The Kensington, a five-star residence of the Doyle Collection group, which also owns The Bloomsbury and The Marylebone.
The address of the Kensington is hard to beat, being within a mile’s walking distance of London’s museums, including the V&A, the Natural History and Science Museums, as well as Hyde Park. Knightsbridge, Notting hilI and central London are also a short tube or bus ride away.
Rooms & decor
‘Cozy decadence’ was the watchword in the design of the 150 bedrooms and the bright lounge at Kensington, which is the hotel’s friendly center. Interiors are inspired by the style of grand Parisian hotels, with wooden floors, marble tops, striking chandeliers, and velvet furniture, in a palette of dove gray and saffron yellow.
Impressive works of art can be found throughout the hotel, from metal elephant sculptures in the lobby to antique oil paintings and artwork hung along the staircase, many of which have been sorted by the shutter in the private collection of the Doyle family.
Five Grade II listed townhouses have been bundled together into one property to create The Kensington and building restrictions mean some rooms have smaller windows or lower ceilings than one would expect. Decorative Thibaut wallpaper, glossy silk headboards, and extremely comfortable Sealy beds more than make up for this, while Calcutta marble bathrooms are generously loaded with Malin and Goetz bath products.
The Drawing Room buzzes throughout the day, serving up British and European classics including lemon-vinegar chicken cutlets, generous slices of steak with bearnaise sauce, and a heartwarming aubergine and mozzarella gratin. During the warmer months, the hotel restaurant spills out onto the street with an elegant heated terrace, reminiscent of a jar of candy in shades of black, white and mint.
Served daily, an exquisite champagne tinted afternoon tea features London’s most famous landmarks in diminutive form, displayed on a theatrical tea stand inspired by the London Eye. In the evening, a nightcap by the fire all year round is a romantic must.
The hotel’s clubby K Bar is a destination in its own right, attracting affluent Londoners and big parties. The result is a lively late-night bar, where a pointy bartender in a white tuxedo jacket shakes up all manner of concoctions behind a polished brass bar and tête-à-tête take place in velvet enclaves.
Guests can use the Pashley bikes parked outside the hotel and the kitchen will also prepare a picnic to enjoy in nearby Hyde Park. Children are welcome and receive a free Kensington teddy bear, plus milk and cookie turndown service.
The warm grandeur of Kensington is as popular with tourists as it is with well-to-do locals, often working remotely from a low-key corner of the living room or enjoying a sybaritic afternoon tea. Warm and meticulously attentive staff closes the deal at this five star hotel, wrapped in classic English architecture.
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