Kensington London area guide

What to expect when visiting and staying in Kensington, London

Kensington Gardens
Recharge at Kensington Gardens, ready to discover more of London.

Kensington is a large district just to the west of the very centre of London. A short journey to most of London's main attractions.

There are various sub-districts within the Kensington area, broadly the further east you go towards the centre the more affluent and upmarket things become.

On this page we look at the Earl's Court, Gloucester Road, South Kensington and Kensington High Street districts of Kensington where the vast majority of Kensington hotel accommodation is found.

Earl's Court Kensington

Earl's court Kensington

The Earl's Court hotel area is the furthest west of the hotel districts within Kensington. The centre of the area is Earl's Court Underground Station, all the streets within a 5-min walk from here are full of hotel accommodation.

Earl's Court is one of London's leading budget hotel districts and the district is certainly orientated towards the budget traveller with lots of cheap accommodation. Having said that there are a few 4-star hotels, including the Marriott Kensington and many mid-range options including chains like Premier Inn and Best Western.

This is an area of London where there are quite a few apartments which can be rented out for short break holidays.

Food and drink in Earl's Court

Food & drink in Earl's Court

The area offers lots of fast food outlets, coffee shops like Starbucks and many pubs offering value for money food and drink. There are also many convenience stores and unusually for a central London hotel district, two full size supermarkets, Tesco and Sainsbury.

Doctor Who Tardis in Earl's Court, London

Doctor Who's Tardis

Doctor Who fans will definitely recognise the iconic blue police box that sits next to Earl's Court Underground station. Better known as the Tardis, this realistic replica is a quick stop photo opportunity for any science fiction fans before or after using the Underground station.

Chelsea FC, London

Chelsea Football Club

Chelsea soccer club is also only a 10-min walk away from Earl's Court and again when there is a game on it doesn't normally impact on the Earl's Court hotel prices. Watching a Premier League football match is a great way to spend an evening in London, full of atmosphere & excitement.

Gloucester Road Kensington

Natural History Museum London

Upmarket area

Walk for 5-min along Cromwell Road from Earl's Court and you'll reach Gloucester Road Underground Station. Up until you reach Gloucester Raod it's non-stop hotel accommodation all the way, but as you arrive at Gloucester Road Underground, a subtle change has taken place in your environment. The hotels around Gloucester Road are dominated by 4-star chain hotels like Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Radisson. Most of the global 4-star chains will have many other hotels in London, their hotel in Kensington is often the cheapest one available.

The emphasis here is more upmarket with many full service restaurants and coffee shops. The large supermarket here is Waitrose, the UK's most upmarket supermarket chain.

Weekend rates

This area is the first hotel area you'll enter as you come into London by road from Heathrow. Airline crews use the hotels here a lot. As with most 4-star hotels where business customers are very important, the rates at weekends can be very attractive. Further into the centre, there is often a premium for weekend stays.

South Kensington Museums

Gloucester Road is very similar to Earl's Court. A value for money area in the 3-4-star sector from where you'll travel into central London each day on the Underground. Gloucester Road is the furthest out of central London the popular hop-on, hop-off sightseeing buses come.

From Gloucester Road its only a short walk to the South Kensington Museums (Natural History, Science and V&A) and then another 10-min walk to Harrods or Kensington Palace.

South Kensington and Knightsbridge

Harrods Knightsbridge Kensington London

Once you go past Gloucester Road and get to South Kensington opposite the museums, there is a major shift in the area. Around the South Kensington Underground there is a small hotel area, slightly more expensive than Gloucester Road. Once you go beyond this you are in Knightsbridge, a very wealthy area where some of London's most expensive accommodation is located.

Affluent market

If you go north towards Kensington Gardens from South Kensington there are some very expensive hotels here too. All of this area around Kensington Gardens and Knightsbridge is at a big premium to the Gloucester Road / Earl's Court districts. The restaurants and services are also targeting an affluent market here.

Wander into the back streets around Kensington High Street and Knightsbridge, look at the prices in local estate agents and you'll realise this is an area for rich people on a global scale.

Getting around in London from Kensington

By tube

With the notable exception of the South Kensington Museum you will be using the London Underground to get around. You should be able to get to most places you want to see in central London within around 20-30-min using the Underground.

Most visitors should be purchasing an Oyster Card or Travelcard, the most convenient places in the district to buy from is the ticket offices of the Underground Stations.

The Piccadilly Line takes you direct into the theatre/entertainment area of central London whilst the Circle and District Line follows the River Thames and is good for many of the major sights like Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and Tower of London.

By hop-on hop-off buses

A popular option for visitors to get orientated with London is to use the hop-on, hop-off tour buses. There are three major operators, the Original London Tour, the Big Bus and Golden Tours. All have to service Harrods and the South Kensington Museums and come out as far as Gloucester Road, but not beyond to Earl's Court.

History of Kensington hotel area

Kensington Street View London

Kensington is really the first main hotel area that grew up outside the West End itself when mass tourism took off and Heathrow was the only proper London airport. Gatwick and Luton at the time were mainly used for those British holidaymakers seeking sunshine by going on holiday charters.

The hotel area formed along Cromwell Road, the A4 which is the main artery road into London from Heathrow. The Borough of Kensington is actually a huge area but the area focussed on tourists in terms of accommodation is basically found along the Cromwell Road and to a lesser extent High Street Kensington..

Value for money

In summary, Kensington really is an area that has something for everyone. If you are flying into Heathrow, this area for most leisure visitors has to be top of the short-list when looking for accommodation. If you are coming in via Gatwick, it is still a good value area. Stansted and Luton arrivals will find it a more difficult airport transfer.

At the moment in terms of value for money, Kensington is probably the best value area in London. This is on the basis that if you compared chain hotel brands that have multiple hotels in London, the Kensington hotel they offer is normally one of the cheapest rooms rates they have.

Every effort is made to keep all our information correct and the advertised prices up to date. We endeavour to be as accurate a source of information as possible but Travellers Toolkits cannot be held responsible for any price differential between our stated prices and those of the companies supplying the product or accuracy of information provided on our sites.