There is no doubt that Kensington is a sensible choice for visitors to London.
For those who are not familiar with London, it's located in postcodes SW7 and W8 which are prime residential areas of central London lying to the south of Hyde Park and to the north of Chelsea.
In comparison to staying in the West End, it's a little less of a tourist trap. The affluent residential population demands a value for money infrastructure so retail value for money tends to be more satisfactory as they have to retain customer loyalty. In saying that, it's still expensive unless you know where to use.
Hotels in Kensington tend to be in the higher rating categories, mainly 4 star. Be aware that hotels can claim to be any star rating and there are 3 star hotels claiming to be 4 star. Also hotel websites can to some extent be deceiving thanks to artistic photographers, best to ignore the images of flowers and fancy door number plaques and search for real pictures of the rooms and public areas.
So which hotels would we recommend? For the average Joe Bloggs on an average budget of say £100 to £150 a night there are some safe options where you will be pleased with your accommodation.
The swimming pool at the Kensington Close Hotel
One we always check out first is the Kensington Close on Wrights Lane. It's just had a major refurbishment and offers large public areas, a nice bar and modern bedrooms. The location is superb with the Kensington high street tube being 2 minutes walk away. The Circle and District line from here will take you all around central London without changing, even to the Financial District. The Kensington Close is surrounded by shops and restaurants so everything is on hand.
Standard twin guestroom at Rydges Hotel in Kensington
Half a mile south is Rydges Hotel. This is a lovely Australian owned 4 star very close to Gloucester Road tube station. It's a little more personal and we have always found the staff to be extremely helpful and friendly. The guest rooms are adequate and the public areas a very comfortable with nice leather couches to relax on. Some rooms a better than others due to it originally being a mansion type townhouse and our recommendation is to request a room at the rear to avoid early morning traffic noise.
The entrance to the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum in London
Same area but much larger, in fact huge, is the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum. Although a characterless 4 star, this purpose built hotel has a lot to offer so don't discount it. The public areas are vast and fantastic with an excellent bistro and a pub which serves bar food. It's a high rise hotel so road noise is not an issue. It also has a massive underground car park but remember its inside the traffic congestion zone so you will have to pay the daily charge if driving there during weekdays. Guest rooms are standard Holiday Inn style with no hidden surprises. Our only complaint here is the wait for a table at breakfast. If you are on a room only package then no problem as there are several places to eat very locally and at half the price. Check out the Gloucester Road Arcade just 2 minutes away for breakfast places.
If these hotels are offering prices over the 150 pounds a night mark them you may as well check out some of the more upmarket alternatives just in case they are the same price point.
The Ampersand Hotel close to the South Kensington Tube Station
Heading a little east towards South Kensington tube station you have the Ampersand Hotel Kensington. This is a classy boutique style hotel with various local themes for the gusts rooms. Reviews a very good and on occasion, it can offer seriously competitive rates. The tube is 4 or 5 minutes away and it's very close to the Natural History Museum. Again, the area is full of good restaurants and shops.
So what's in Kensington? Well there are the obvious attractions of the Royal Albert Hall, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Harrods is just up the road and you can travel there by tube or on foot. If its a nice day then take in Hyde Park with the Serpentine where you can visit Kensington Palace and the Lady Diana water feature.
In neighbouring Chelsea there is the Chelsea Psychic Garden and if your timing is right the Chelsea Flower Show.
For shopping, you can walk to Knightsbridge and Sloane Square and see all the uber deluxe retail outlets. For more sensible shopping try Kensington High Street. If you walk from South Kensington towards Knightsbridge, then check out the side streets for bespoke clothing shops.
Where to eat in Kensington? We have two gems.
The Abingdon Arms (54 Abingdon Road, London W8 6AP) - our favoured gastropub in Kensington. Gets busy so go early. The menu is excellent.
The Wholefoods Store (63-97 Kensington High Street, The Barkers Building, London W8 5SE). Vast store selling everything edible from around the world. Upstairs you can eat in at various food stations. Alternatively you can pick and mix hot foods and salads and take them upstairs to the seating areas.
Hotels in Kensington London - comparison website showing all available prices for each hotel