orld-famous museums, the Royal Albert Hall, manicured parks. South Kensington is known for many things, but its luxury hotels aren't necessarily one of them – or so you thought. Set behind a grand neoclassical façade lies The Kensington, a five-star residence from the Doyle Collection group, which also owns The Bloomsbury and The Marylebone.
The Kensington’s address is hard to beat, being within walking distance of London’s museum mile, including the V&A, Natural History and Science Museums, as well as Hyde Park. Knightsbridge, Notting Hill and central London are also a short ride away by tube or bus.
Rooms & decor
‘Homely decadence’ was the brief when designing The Kensington’s 150 bedrooms and light-filled Drawing Room, which is the hotel’s convivial hub. Interiors take style cues from the grand dame hotels of Paris, with parquet wooden flooring, marble tabletops, striking chandeliers and supremely comfortable velvet furnishings, in a palette of dove grey and saffron yellow.
Impressive artwork can be found throughout the hotel, from metal elephant sculptures in the lobby to antique oil paintings and illustrations hung along the staircase, many of which have been handpicked from the Doyle family’s private collection.
Five Grade II-listed townhouses were knocked into one property in order to create The Kensington and building restrictions mean that some bedrooms have smaller windows or lower ceilings than one might expect. Decorative Thibaut wallpaper, lustrous silk headboards and supremely comfortable Sealy beds more than make up for this, while Calcutta marble ensuites are generously laden with Malin and Goetz bath products.
Food & drink
The Drawing Room hums all day long, serving British and European classics, including chicken schnitzel with lemon vinegarette, generous cuts of beef with Béarnaise sauce and comforting aubergine and mozzarella gratin. During the warmer months, the hotel restaurant spills out into the street with an elegant, heated terrace, reminiscent of a sweetie jar in black, white and mint tones.
Served daily, an exquisite Champagne-tinged afternoon tea presents London’s most famous landmarks in diminutive form, displayed on a theatrical London Eye-inspired tea stand. In the evening, a nightcap by the year-round roaring fire is a romantic must.
The hotel’s clubby K Bar is a destination in its own right, drawing well-heeled Londoners and large parties. The result is a lively late-night watering hole, where pin-sharp barman in white tuxedo jackets shake all kinds of concoctions behind a polished brass bar and tête-à-têtes take place in velvet enclaves.
Guests can make use of the Pashley bicycles parked outside the hotel, and the kitchen will also rustle up a picnic to be enjoyed in nearby Hyde Park. Children are made most welcome and receive a complimentary Kensington teddy bear, as well as a turndown service of milk and cookies.
The Kensington’s homely grandeur is as popular with tourists as it is with affluent locals, often found working remotely from a discreet corner of the Drawing Room or enjoying a sybaritic afternoon tea. Warm, meticulously attentive staff cinch the deal at this five-star hotel, wrapped in classically English architecture.
From £360 per night, 109-113 Queen's Gate, South Kensington, London SW7 5LP