Tips + Trends

Shopping, Palaces and Pubs: A Londoner’s Walking Guide to Knightsbridge and Kensington

From Queen Anne architecture to colonnaded townhouses, West London is all about elegance. Whether you walk through leafy squares in Kensington or shop at high-end department stores in Knightsbridge, visiting this part of the city is a treat for the eyes.

But the other senses get their fix, too, as these neighborhoods have restaurants, cafés and nightlife galore. Tucked-away pubs like The Builder’s Arms in Kensington and mouth-watering food halls at Harrods in Knightsbridge are all part of the excitement.

If you have 24 hours to tour West London, I recommend starting on Brompton Road. It’s full of shops, like Harvey Nichols and Harrods — two of the city’s most famous department stores — and other high street names.

west london neighborhoods
(Photo: Julie Falconer)

If retail therapy gets intense, wander onto side streets like Pont Street and Cheval Place. The former has stunning historic architecture in its own Pont Street Dutch style, while the latter is full of historic houses that feel like they’re out of a storybook.

Heading north, Kensington Gardens is another good place to take a break. It’s home to Kensington Palace, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (aka Prince William and Kate) live. Next to it is Kensington Palace Gardens, a street bursting with embassies and stunning architecture. It’s hard not to fall in love with the houses here.

Running parallel is Kensington Church Street, where some of the area’s best restaurants and cafés sit. Maggie Jones’s is a London classic, from the rustic country interior to the traditional British dishes. It’s hidden on a little cul-de-sac, and it’s worth seeking out.

west london neighborhoods
(Photo: Julie Falconer)

Up the street, the Churchill Arms is one of London’s most beloved pubs. Decked in flowers, the facade alone attracts visitors from all over the world. But locals like to go inside for the Thai food, too.

Back on the side streets, Abingdon Road has some of the prettiest spring wisteria in the city. The houses seem to try to compete with one another every year to see which one can wrap more purple around its windows and doors.

west london neighborhoods
(Photo: Julie Falconer)

And some of the prettiest streets year-round are the mews. These cobbled lanes were once stables but are now home to some of the most desirable houses in London. Kynance Mews is one of the most photographed in the area, not least when autumn leaves drape its arched entrances.

Queen’s Gate Mews is another local favorite, with colorful doors, flower boxes and a secret pub at the end.

When evening sets in, there are a lot of nightlife options in this part of the city. Kensington is home to Dirty Bones, where you enter through a converted hot dog stand at street level and descend into a subterranean world of cocktails, live music and DJs.

west london neighborhoods
(Photo: Julie Falconer)

Knightsbridge livens things up with venues like Buddha-Bar and Maroush, one of London’s favorite late-night food haunts. It’s packed with partygoers in the wee hours after the clubs close.

And by the time all the senses have had their fix for the day, West London has something for each of them, from the sights of the buildings to the sounds of DJs and scents and tastes of food. And that’s to say nothing of the good feeling that lasts long after the day is over.


Originally from San Francisco, Julie Falconer moved to London in 2007 and runs A Lady in London, a blog about all things lovely London and beautiful travel.