Cool Places - The best places to stay in the UK

The Best Places to Stay in the UK

Kensington & Chelsea

The so-called "Royal Borough" of Kensington and Chelsea more than lives up to its stately name, with a genteel air and some of London's most elegant streetscapes, garden squares flanked by gloss-black iron railings and cookie-cutter rows of brilliant white townhouses. It's rich, but in fact it's far from dull, and indeed this part of West London throbs with an energy that is all its own. Kensington plays host to some of the UK's most venerable museums and one of its most glorious parks in Kensington Gardens – home to the recently revamped Kensington Palace), while Chelsea is packed with uber-slick restaurants and bars. Both neighbourhoods can also boast some of London's very best shopping, with King's Road very much the star attraction.


Being located just far enough away from the bustle of the city proper, Kensington and Chelsea have the rare distinction of being both nice places to visit and live – and indeed they have always been a popular place for London's great and good to reside, with everyone from monarchs (Elizabeth I) and politicians (Margaret Thatcher) to creative icons such as Oscar Wilde and the Rolling Stones putting down roots here over the years. In the 19th century the decision to create a home for institutions dedicated to the arts and sciences around the location of the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, meant that South Kensington became extremely desirable, a trend furthered by the arrival of the tube in 1868, which linked Gloucester Road and South Kensington with both the political centre at Westminster and the financial powerhouse of the City. The current Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea was formally created in 1965 and was integral to both the "Swinging Sixties", when Biba opened its first store in Kensington's Abingdon Road, and the 1970s punk movement which centred on the King's Road for a while. In more recent years prices in Kensington and Chelsea have risen beyond the means of most and the area has gone from being a cradle of alternative culture to a haven for those earning megabucks in the City. The residents may continue to change but the area seems to set to remain the focus of London wealth – a position it has held for centuries.

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Kensington & Chelsea

The so-called "royal borough" more than lives up to its stately name.
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