Kensington, London, UK

A Tour of Kensington: Sightseeing in London's Cultural Capital

THE SPENDING MONEY FOR THIS POST WAS GIFTED BY HOTELS.COM, BUT ALL VIEWS ARE MY OWN.
Considering that Kensington is now of London's most affluent areas, it's pretty hard to believe that once upon a time, it was a little village on the outskirts of the capital! Kensington began to rise in the ranks after the great Queen Victoria was born there - it was granted the status of Royal Borough upon her death in 1901. Today, it remains firmly at the centre of London life, located just west of Westminster and Buckingham Palace and within public transport Zone 1. The hotels in Kensington are a big pull for visitors, as are the shopping, entertainment and sightseeing hotspots. Recently, I was challenged by Hotels.com to pay the borough a visit to see just what it has to offer for their guests. I took my Mum along for the ride and today's post is dedicated to sharing what we got up to!

Hope blue whale Natural History Museum Kensington London
Dippy may have left the Natural History Museun but Hope the blue whale is there to welcome you!

Best for: Museums

Kensington is the home of London's most famous museums and best of all, most are completely free to enter! On the day of our trip we didn't have too much luck with the weather so it was great to be able to head into the museums to dry off and experience the amazing collections.

Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, SW7 5BD

You are never too old to love dinosaurs! On our visit to the Natural History Museum, our first stop was the dino galleries. The highlight was definitely the huge animatronic T-Rex display. There were realistic sound effects and the movements of the dinosaur were so convincing - seeing the looks of amazement on childrens' faces as they turned the corner and saw him was wonderful! Another element of the NHM that I loved was its architecture. It was designed as a "cathedral to nature" so there are intricate ceiling paintings depicting botanical specimens and little monkeys sculpted into the columns. It's such a wonderful space to explore.

Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL 

The V&A is a monument to human creativity, displaying everything from sculpture and ceramics to photography and fashion. Its collections are huge and full of surprises! The V&A is also one of my favourite places in Kensington to stop for a cup of tea. It is home to the world's oldest museum cafe and its historic status is shown through its beautiful period decor. Think huge chandeliers, multicoloured tiled walls, stained glass windows and glittering columns. My Mum and I enjoyed a lemon and ginger tea there on our visit and thoroughly enjoyed soaking up the historic atmosphere.

Ceru Turkish Eastern Mediterranean restaurant South Kensington London
Ceru brings a slice of the Eastern Mediterranean to London.
Its South Kensington restaurant is small but very welcoming.
mocktails cocktails Ceru Mediterranean restaurant Kensington
Left: Passion Fruit Mojito Mocktail (£5)
Right: Sirocco Mocktail (£4.50)

Best for: Food

After working up an appetite in Kensington's museums, my Mum and I were very much in the mood for some tasty veggie food. We made a beeline for Ceru Restaurant which is happily just a 10 minute walk from the V&A. We were incredibly impressed by everything we sampled from the Ceru menu, from the thirst quenching mocktails to the warm pitta bread, fresh from the oven. A special mention has to be made of the divine zucchini and feta fritters on the Market Platter (£10), which, accompanied by a tzatziki dressing, were some of the best I've ever tried. The spiced cauliflower, delicately flavoured with cinnamon, was also a standout element on the plate. 

Dessert didn't disappoint either. After my holiday in Thassos last summer, I've been the biggest fan of baklava, so when I saw the Flavours of Baklava Ice Cream (£6) on the menu at Ceru, I couldn't say no! The dish comprised two small balls of cardamom ice cream with a nut brittle and crystallised caramel - it was absolutely divine. The smoothness of the ice cream and the shards of caramel contrasted beautifully. I washed this down with a Spiked Turkish Apple Tea (£5), flavoured with Morgan's spiced rum. This was a naturally sweet and delicious warm tipple without being sickly or overpowering, I loved it!

The portions at Ceru were ideal for sharing - my Mum and I both got to try a little of everything without getting bored or feeling weighed down by the meal. The food was light and the quality unparalleled. Ceru don't just cater for veggies either, there were plenty of meat and fish options on the menu. My only recommendation for dining there is to either come early or to book a table - the restaurant is so popular that staff had to turn people away during our visit!

Market Platter pan fried brocolli Ceru restaurant London review
Top: Market Light Lunch Platter (£10)
Bottom: Pan Fried Tenderstem Broccoli (£5)
Ceru Turkish Eastern Mediterranean restaurant London South Kensington
Ceru Restaurant can be found at 7-9 Bute Street, South Kensington.
Located very close to the District Line tube.

Best for: Shopping

Another London institution that can be found in Kensington is the world famous Harrods department store. When we arrived, we entered into the jewellery section and WOW, you definitely need a big budget to shop there! Still, it was lovely to do a little window-shopping and make a Tiffany's wishlist, just in case I happen to win the lottery. My favourite part of the store, however, had to be the food halls. The chocolate section was incredible, with more flavours of Lindt chocolates on offer than I knew existed! I couldn't resist picking up a sweet treat in the form of a Box of Six Macarons (£14.50), followed by a Lemon Meringue Pastry (£4) and a Cheese Scone (£1.50) for my Mum. Harrods really is like no other shopping experience on earth - even if you just go in for a wander around, it's well worth it!

Harrods food hall shopping Kensington London
Harrods' bread is monogrammed!
Harrods department store Kensington London
An exterior view of the iconic department store.

Best for: Something unexpected

Our trip to London concluded with (you guessed it!) even more history! The Saatchi Gallery, which can be found a stone's throw away from Kensington in neighbouring Chelsea, is currently hosting an exceptional touring exhibition of the treasures of Tutankhamun's tomb. For those of you not in the know, Tutankhamun was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh who lived over 3,000 years ago. In the 1920's, his intact tomb was discovered by archaeologist Howard Carter. King Tut has been a household name ever since. 

The Saatchi's exhibition was an incredible, atmospheric display of the tomb's artefacts, including many that had previously never been seen outside of Egypt. Unfortunately some of the interpretation was a bit sensationalist, describing ancient Egyptian religious beliefs somewhat unfairly as including "magic" and "spells" but on the whole, I really enjoyed it. The unexpected experience that really made the exhibition stand out was the 7-minute long VR tour that lets you fly through a 3D reconstruction of the tomb. This was fully immersive and truly memorable!

Tutankhamun pharaoh exhibition Saatchi Gallery London Chelsea
A gilded wooden sculpture of the Egyptian creator god, Ptah.
Tutankhamun Egypt exhibition Saatchi Gallery London Chelsea
The sun god Horus represented with a solar disk on his head.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Kensington and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it as a destination for visitors to the capital. Have you ever been to Kensington? Were there any highlights that I missed? Let me know in the comments below.

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