Boasting incredible links to the British Royal Family, Kensington is the best destination to explore the capital’s royal history. From lavish historic homes and palaces to age-old theatres and more, the choices can seem overwhelming. To help decide a starting point, here’s Point A’s Royal Guide to Kensington & London…
Found on Hyde Park’s western edge, Kensington Palace has long been a tourist hotspot mainly due to its historical links with the Royal Family. Its regal façade and beautifully tended gardens in fact come from much more humble beginnings, having originally been built as a country mansion for a wealthy businessman.
Inside Kensington Palace, royal enthusiasts will revel in the awe-inspiring artwork, The King’s staircase and overall grandeur of the palace’s décor. Several Kensington tours are available for visitors, from exploring the life of Queen Victoria through to a fashion exhibition showcasing clothing worn by Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana.
The best time to visit the palace is 2 or 3pm each day, leaving plenty of time to explore before closing time, while avoiding larger groups of visitors.
Found in the centre of Hyde Park next to The Serpentine lake, this unique memorial to Princess Diana is made from Cornish granite, having been designed specifically to reflect her life. An open fountain presented as a sweeping circle, you can follow the water as it bubbles and swirls down to a calm pool.
Whether for a show or just to visit for a tour or afternoon tea, there’s no denying the majesty of this historic, circular building. Built in 1871 and opened by Queen Victoria, you can choose to head behind the scenes to the dressing rooms and loading bay or experience the incredible acoustics in the auditorium. Find out more about visiting the Royal Albert Hall and booking show tickets.
Nestled between Green Park and St James’ Park you’ll find the grandeur that is Buckingham Palace. Its mammoth 775 rooms have been home to Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, and before that, King George VI, King George V, King Edward VII and perhaps most famously, Queen Victoria.
Tours of the palace’s lavish interior are available between 22nd July and 1st October, giving visitors a chance each year to delve beyond the grand gates. Use this opportunity to explore the grand staircase, ballroom and exquisite décor of the state room, and even wander through the palace’s secret passages.
Outside the palace, the changing of the guard is one of the most popular London attractions available all year round, taking place at 11am on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday (weather permitting). You can witness the iconic regiments switching over to continue guarding the palace. Just be sure to arrive in time to grab yourself a good spot.
Another must-see stop just 6 miles from Hyde Park, Kew Royal Botanic Gardens boasts multiple attractions suitable for all the family. From the Japanese gardens and indoor rainforest through to the Queen’s 17th-century garden and waterlily house, you can easily spend an entire day wandering these beautiful grounds. Why not also go for some aerial views, along the treetop walkway or from the top of the Great Pagoda?
Spring and summer aren’t the only good times for visiting Kew either. The autumnal weather casts a golden glow over much of the gardens, so it’s worth considering a photo walk, or getting involved in their Autumn Antics exhibition which incorporates storytelling and comedy suitable for the whole family. Don’t forget Christmas too, as from 20th November to 5th January, Kew becomes a winter wonderland with thousands of lights covering a mile-long trail through the gardens. Go searching for Santa, listen to a holly bush choir or watch the mesmerising light show at the palm house.
From Earl’s Court it’s possible to get to Kew Gardens via the District line or hop in a taxi which takes around 10 minutes.
Boasting exhibitions, tours and talks all day every day, the historic Tower of London is close to 1000 years old, having been founded in 1066. Home to the famous Crown Jewels and several historic collections, it’s no wonder the Tower of London is a popular stop for anyone wishing to explore the capital’s history, alongside its royal heritage.
It’s best to visit the Tower of London is ideally midweek in order to avoid the weekend crowds, but if that’s not possible, aim to get there for around 9am (even on a Sunday).
A stunning historical landmark built in 1873, the Natural History Museum is a must-see attraction exploring the age of the dinosaurs, human evolution, nature and more. Find out about this and other museums in the Kensington area in our museum guide.
To ensure you’re best placed to enjoy the historical and royal monuments found in Kensington and the surrounding area, our Kensington Olympia Hotel can be found close to Earl’s Court, on Cromwell Road. From here, you can walk to both the Natural History Museum and Kensington Palace in under 30 minutes.