Kensington, London, England

Living in Kensington

Iyna Bort Caruso

The elite London neighborhood of Kensington has staying power. This area of communal gardens, mews quarters and cobbled streets has been home to members of the royal family since 1689.

Kensington is situated on the north bank of the Thames River in the fashionable West End district of the capital, between Chelsea and Hyde Park.

Kensington Palace, birthplace of Queen Victoria, may be its most notable landmark, but the area has some of the country’s most important museums, too. The Victoria and Albert Museum, Natural History Museum, Design Museum and Science Museum are among them. In South Kensington is the treasured Royal Albert Hall. A favorite of locals and visitors alike is Kensington High Street, the main commercial avenue of upscale shopping. And then there is Kensington Gardens. Originally created as the playground of King Henry VIII, it is one of London’s eight Royal Parks.

It’s not unusual for residences to stay in families for decades and come to market only on rare occasions. At the same time Kensington has a noticeable expat population, partially due to the number of embassies located here.  The district is a particular favorite of French nationals, so much so it’s been joked that the neighborhood is the 21st arrondissement of Paris.

More than half of Kensington’s buildings predate the 20th century with the oldest properties dating back to the late 1700s. Georgian and Victorian architecture dominate. Because of its historical significance many of Kensington’s buildings are protected. Within this already exclusive neighborhood properties in Holland Park are at a premium, especially Holland Park Mews, originally built as stables. With its highly regarded schools, the area has special appeal to families. The street perennially ranked as one of Britain’s priciest, however, is Kensington Palace Gardens.