This review follows a complimentary stay at The Kensington.
As rain threatened to fall from the dark autumnal sky, we ran from South Kensington station and down streets lined with handsome white houses and tall black gates. Dodging piles of leaves and dark, muddy puddles, we turned onto Queen’s Gate just as the heavens opened; the glowing windows of The Kensington Hotel welcoming us.
Our new home for just one night, we hurried up the steps of the beautiful building, smiling as a porter with a black bowler hat greeted us.
Stepping into the warmth of The Kensington’s lobby, a roaring fire decorated with pumpkins was burning, along with a dozen cedar scented candles.
Feeling more like the townhouse of a wealthy London family than a hotel, I felt instantly at home here. Indeed, before we’d even had a chance to put our suitcases down, friendly staff were on hand to offer us hot towels and a refreshing drink.
Sinking into an armchair as we waited to check in, a smug smile spread across my face: I had a feeling this was going to be far from a regular Sunday evening.
Where Is The Kensington?
The Kensington hotel is located in the leafy and prosperous suburb of South Kensington, found in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Just a short walk from South Kensington station, the hotel is perfectly placed for those looking to spend a while exploring the wider neighbourhood.
Surrounded by some of London’s most prominent tourist attractions, including the Natural History Museum, Hyde Park and the V & A Museum, the hotel is an ideal luxury bolthole for couples or families looking to combine culture with a little sprinkling of glamour.
The Kensington: A Short History
Approaching the gleaming white, stucco façade of The Kensington, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this building has always been a hotel.
However, and as we soon discovered on our tour, The Kensington in fact comprises of four original townhouses. Now merged into one large meandering space, many of the original features of the townhouses remain, including a large sweeping Victorian staircase located at the restaurant entrance.
During our tour of the hotel, we were told that rather than try to standardise the rooms within The Kensington, the hotel has instead embraced their wonderfully eclectic layouts, with the rooms become smaller (yet cosier) the higher you climb. This configuration owes itself to the original Victorian townhouse design, in which the house’s staff would have lived within the smaller quarters, found on the upper floors of the home.
Now a hotel for over 100 hundred years, The Kensington has been restored to its former Victorian splendour, with high ceilings, open fires and an inviting drawing room enticing guests in from the cold of London’s streets.
Owned by the Doyle Collection, the hotel offers 126 rooms and 24 suites, as well as luxurious public spaces filled with eclectic art, sumptuous armchairs and roaring fires.
Brompton Suite, The Kensington
“It looks like you’re staying in one of our Signature Suites,” the receptionist smiled as she swiftly checked us in.
Handing me the room card, she explained that we had been treated to a night in the hotel’s vast Brompton Suite.
Dizzy with excitement (despite knowing nothing of the room we’d been kindly assigned), I pulled Laura out from the folds of the sofa and hurried her over to the hotel’s lift. “We have a suite,” I whispered, trying my best to look like an experienced luxury traveller.
The Victorian inspired Brompton Suite is an extensive apartment comprising of a lavish living area, a large bedroom and a bathroom complete with a free-standing Victorian bath. Adorned with classical artwork, a Waterford crystal chandelier and a four poster bed, the Brompton Suite offers visitors the opportunity to step back in time: enjoying life as a well-heeled Victorian.
Like two children let loose, Laura and I spent the first fifteen minutes in the suite running loops around the rooms. Seizing on the delicious macaroons and chocolate dipped strawberries that were waiting for us on arrival, we next explored every nook and cranny of this luxury bolthole.
Our night in the suite was spent enjoying its luxurious amenities, including wine in the drawing room, Malin + Goetz scented bubble baths, and a deep sleep in the dangerously comfortable four poster bed.
For those hoping to treat themselves to a luxury London stay, we couldn’t recommend the Brompton Suite enough.
Just be prepared to shed a few tears when it’s time to check out.
The Rooms at The Kensington
As something of hotel geeks, we were delighted to be shown round some of the other rooms within The Kensington.
Our first stop was to one of the newly refurbished Studio Suites, available from £540 per night.
Stepping into the peaceful sanctuary of the suite, we were transported to a fresh and exotic space. With the walls decorated with Japanese inspired wallpaper – the soft furnishings also incorporating the design – the newly refurbished suite added a modern twist to the hotel’s wider aesthetic.
After exploring the room, we moved from to the hotel’s second ‘Signature Suite’: The Knightsbridge Suite.
Unlike the Victorian Brompton Suite, The Knightsbridge offers a modern and contemporary feel; boasting more square footage than most London apartments. With two bathrooms (one of which is intended for guests), two fireplaces, a large circular day bed and a dressing area, the Knightsbridge Suite is certainly a sight to behold.
The K Bar, The Kensington
Opened in 2016, the K Bar is located in the centre of the hotel, making for a cosy and intimate space. Decorated with shining dark oak panels, mirrored walls, low mood lighting and deep blue velvet bar stools, The K Bar feels more like a private members club than your typical hotel bar.
Settling down into one of the leather swing back chairs – a delicious spread of bar snacks laid out in front of us – the staff kindly set to work creating for us some of their favourite signature cocktails.
Having arranged to meet two of our friends at the bar before dinner, we waved eagerly at them as they arrived; their faces conveying precisely what we had just been asking ourselves.
Why had we never been here before?
From raspberry and vodka mixes that tasted dangerously like fruit juice, to refreshing gin and elderflower concoctions, the cocktails in the K Bar flowed that night: making for a fantastically glamorous and cosy way to wile away the hours.
The Townhouse Restaurant
After enjoying some of the most delicious cocktails we’ve had the pleasure of sampling, we made our way into the hotel’s intimate Town House restaurant.
As the autumn sky drained to an inky black, we tucked ourselves around our table, ready to enjoy a night of true gastronomical decadence.
Offering a wide and varied menu, we feasted on buttery king prawns, game ragu with walnut pesto, and mouth-watering dark chocolate fondants with mint ice cream.
It was heavenly, indulgent, and everything you’d hope for from a five star hotel and restaurant.
After cocktails and the three course meal, we were thankful that our bed was waiting for us just up the stairs; waddling a little as we left.
Afternoon Tea at The Kensington
Recently refurbished, the Town House offers all day dining, including the hotel’s London Landmarks Afternoon Tea. During our tour of the hotel, we lingered a little too long next to tables of guests enjoying this indulgent looking feast – making a mental note to return so that we could enjoy our own.
London Landmarks Afternoon Tea is £42 per person or £54.50 with a glass of Champagne
The Kensington Hotel: Final Thoughts
Waking up early in our peaceful Brompton suite the following morning, we deliberated whether it was too late to cancel the string of meetings we had ahead of us. With a checkout time of 12pm, it felt almost criminal to be leaving this lavish suite before we really needed to.
As we reluctantly handed our room key back at reception, the hotel porter sensed our sadness. “Don’t look so glum,” he said, “you’ve still got Christmas to come and that’s when this place truly comes into its own.”
Taking one last glance at the roaring fire, we took this piece of advice extremely seriously.
See you at Christmas, The Kensington?
Thank you to The Kensington and Perowne International for organising such a special stay.