Kensington***** The Royal Village – 168 Five-Star Reviews

(169 customer reviews)

High Street Kensington underground station, London (meet by the Wasabi restaurant at the end of the shopping arcade that links the station with the High Street))

Guided by Adam or David

Walk Times

Day Walk Type Start Time End Time
Thursday Weekly 2 pm 4 pm Winter Summer Reserve Online
Saturday Weekly 2 pm 4 pm Winter Summer Reserve Online

Why go on the Kensington Walk?

  1. Kensington specialises in hiding the best of itself
  2. Kensington Palace
  3. Kensington Gardens
  4. Kensington Palace Gardens aka Millionaires’ Row
  5. London’s finest Conservation Area
  6. Byways and hidden lanes
  7. Georgian townhouses
  8. 1,000 years of history
  9. No end of famous people, past and present
  10. Grace and Favour Apartments aka The Old Stable Block
  11. The Kensington eyrie – London’s nonpareil penthouse
  12. Private art galleries
  13. Kensington Square – much-loved, dignified, time-honoured (17th-century)
  14. Hidden in plain sight – the High Street’s architectural prodigies and secrets*
  15. London’s one-of-a-kind mews
  16. Pub perfection
  17. Street furniture that tells many a tale
  18. The Victorian mortuary
  19. Tiny, tucked-away specialist shops
  20. A-List cafes and restaurants, international cuisine
  21. St Mary Abbots – “the cathedral of parish churches”
  22. Paved in gold – the UK’s wealthiest neighbourhood
  23. Paved in literary gold – poets’ and novelists’ Kensington
  24. Abundant trace evidence of Kensington’s past
  25. A fine collection of Ascot hats
  26. The Kensington airstrip
  27. Where they interrogated Nazi war criminals
  28. Well-connected guides – the locals know David and Adam
  29. Location, location, location**
  30. Japanese loos

*As Brynjulf put it in his review, “to look at buildings I have seen many times before without thinking much about them, and then being told to notice details and learning about art and history through these is really an eye-opener. The variety in the area is amazing…”

**Location, location, location because the Kensington cup runneth over with wonderful museums and galleries: Leighton House, Sambourne House, the Design Museum, the Royal College of Music Museum, the Royal Albert Hall, the Museum Quarter (the V & A, the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum), the Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum, the Royal Geographical Society, etc. The fit is perfect to make a whole day of it: a museum visit, a spot of lunch, the Kensington Walk and, well, how does tea at the Royal Albert Hall sound? Or tea and in due course an evening concert (or the Cirque de Soleil, which is what’s on at the time of writing). The point being Kensington is perfect for making the best possible use of your time.  As Alain de Botton says, we should be seeking not so much to lengthen time as densify the time we have left. There’s no place better to do that than Kensington.

Ok, that’s your checklist. Now let’s put it rather more mellifluously.

“What will I see?”

“Try this for a shortlist: the most remarkable small literary house on the planet; London’s most palatial residential street; the ensemble of townhouses that are the final flowering of ‘the Restoration idiom’ (aka the signature London house for 220 years); a Victorian mortuary; Brigitte Bardot; Prince William’s apartment; four sub-villages; details on the High Street that nobody else sees (there’s a shocking amount of violence there if you know where to look); London’s most delightful cul de sac; centuries-old barracks…

“That’s a very short shortlist. There are getting on for 150 ‘point-outs’ on the walk. But the walk’s not just a magic lantern. In the immortal words of John Constable, “we see nothing until we understand it.” By walk’s end you’ll have seen Kensington because you’ll understand it. Understand what it is about Kensington – understand how and why it’s the wealthiest district in the country. Understand the skull beneath the skin. Understand that all-important house in Holland Street – the one the famous actor lives in – ‘if you understand this one house in Kensington you understand London.’

Short read: London’s royal village.

Medium read: This one’s special. It’s rarely the first – or even the second or third walk people go on but when they do get round to taking it they often say it’s the one they liked the most. And no wonder, because“Royal Kensington is London at its best – picturesque, stimulating and full of character.”

Long read: Its parts are as delightful as London can provide: Europe’s most exclusive residential street; warmly handsome old Kensington Palace, home to the late Diana, Princess of Wales (and, latterly, Princes William and Harry); Kensington Gardens (all meadows, shaded walks, bowers and flower gardens, it might be the grounds of a stately home in some rural shire)…

London’s most attractive and unusual mews; its most delightful cul de sac; cobbled little soigné lanes, girt with pretty cottages and charming old shops; regal avenues, beautifully kept squares and a clutch of the world’s greatest museums.

Let alone Europe’s largest (and most astonishing) roof garden, the secluded townhouse of the greatest Londoner of the 20th-century, a matryoshka (Russian nesting dolls) of Kensington mini-neighbourhoods, grace and favour apartments, the most important centre outside Germany for the Nazi war trials, a “rising room,” an artistic tour de force made out of 41,300 matchsticks, the most exotically beautiful garden in London, ghostly figures behind a balustrade, the four great rivers of the Old Testament, the most remarkable small literary house on the planet, a secret eyrie and more history and colourful characters than you can shake a stick at.

Guided by David or Adam

IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THE GUIDING

   

N.B. the above is just a sampling of what’s mostly served up on David’s walk – this being London Walks, Adam’s walk will be stamped with its owner’s character and interests.

Want more? Here’s David’s Podcast about how he sometimes starts the walk and a good bit about Kensington 1,000 Years Ago

For good measure, here’s David’s podcast about “a nondescript corner of Kensington where you have 500 years of Kensington in the palm of your hand.”

And here are David’s Where to Eat in Kensington recommendations.

KENSINGTON WALK – THE PRACTICALS

The Kensington Walk takes place at 2 pm on Thursdays* and 2 pm on Saturdays. The meeting point is High Street Kensington Tube. When you come up the steps and go through the ticket barrier at High Street Kensington Tube you’ll see, directly in front of you, a short shopping arcade that leads out to the High Street. At the far end – the pavement (sidewalk) end – of the shopping arcade, just before it debouches out onto the High Street, is a Wasabi restaurant. The meeting point is on the pavement (sidewalk) directly outside the shopping arcade, right by the Wasabi restaurant.

*To be on the safe side always check the date on the calendar. Or heed the top-level announcements that read: Click for dates this walk does not take place.

On Thursdays, the walk is guided by Adam or David. On Saturdays, it’s guided by David. N.B. the walk ends back at High Street Kensington tube – or a few minutes walk away. 

THE WEATHER

Here’s what you need to know…

LONDON WALKS REVIEWS

“If you want to know London better, if you want to learn some things about the world’s most cosmopolitan city that most people who spend their lives there never learn… I can think of no better investment than London Walks” The New York Times

“London’s best walking tours”  Travel & Leisure

“Even jaded Londoners find these London Walks a source of astonishing gems of information about the city in which they live.”  Daily Mail, Top London Treats

“Kensington walk – a total success, don’t miss it! Went on the Kensington walk today with David, a very experienced guide. How lucky were we? My husband and I were so impressed with not only his vast knowledge, use of language and literary references but his outstanding communication skills, wit and fervour. His enthusiasm was infectious and he brought the area to life-giving us an excellent insight into Kensington. We have done very many London walks and this was the best by far – do not miss it. In the words of Tina Turner it was ‘simply the best.’ Thank you David. This was our first outing after lockdown in Liverpool and it was not only a brilliant afternoon of learning but so enjoyable.” Geraldine M., May 2021, TripAdvisor

“Never have participated in but having seen and overheard walking tour guides over many years in the US, I was a bit sceptical that most of them were simply platforms for young aspiring actors to perform for small captive audiences. In the case of the London Walks I could not have been further from the truth. The stable of guides include barristers, physicians, professors, authors, historians and archaeologists–folks who actually know a bit about what they are talking about.” Rebecca D.

“we were lucky enough to have David to take us on a walk around Kensington. David was the first guide to take us on a walk and from that moment we were hooked”   Emberton75  Lancaster, United Kingdom

“this is a very informative and interesting route, the beautiful mews hidden in back streets, tiny alleys, grand addresses, nosey parkers would love this walk. you’re looking at architecture, history, famous people’s addresses. This particular company use actors and professional people to orate. I have done a different one each time I am in London. they are all equally impressive.”  Joan C.  Cardiff, United Kingdom

“We joined the Saturday afternoon Old Kensington walk, guided by Angela, on a windy, slightly dank day though, fortunately, the rain held off. We spent a considerable part of the walk laughing as Angela was such a witty, entertaining guide who delivered her anecdotes with perfect timing. I spent many years working in London and now regularly visit but the beautiful ‘old village’ part of Kensington (with its eye-wateringingly expensive houses) was unfamiliar to me and it was fascinating to learn so much about its history. I’ve already recommended this walk to family and friends and would happily join them and do it again next year. Thanks Angela.”  BaHertford  Hertford, United Kingdom

“My husband and I took part in the Old Kensington walk. Adam was our guide and he delighted us all with his humor, his knowledge and his obvious affection for the city. Questions are encouraged and duly answered. Photo ops abound. And quirky bits of history make Kensington come alive as the small neighborhood you’d long to be part of. As our schedule did not allow time for another tour, it will be first on our to-do list next time we land in London and it should be on your list as well. It is a lovely way to spend a couple of hours learning the history of one corner of London.”  Rebecca D. Hamilton, Virginia

“Never failed to be amazed at the entertainment on these walks. Of all the ones I have done, the uniform areas are 1 The walk leaders are brilliant. Knowledgeable, entertaining and loud enough to be heard by all. 2 Hidden gems of London hiding behind the rush you normally see when sightseeing, shopping or just going to work in London. 3 Great eating recommendations in places you would not normally find. The reason you should do one of these walks early on your London trip? You will want to do another! This time we did the Old Kensington walk. It did not sound as dramatic as some of the other walks, but it was breathtaking. From meeting up at High Street Kensington tube station and all the rush there, within minutes we were transported back 300 years into a quiet and peaceful area. Lots of history, interesting insights into how the area developed, how housing styles developed, famous people who lived there, secret gardens both at ground level and higher, stables conversations into shops and houses, even stables on the 1st floor. The church we went into was so quiet and the size of a cathedral, the history outside equally as interesting. At the end of the walk, we retraced our steps on our own to take it all in – but it needs the expert to bring out all the interesting details. We stopped at one of the recommended eating places mentioned by the guide – very good.”  FullNotGlum  St. Ives, United Kingdom

“We did the Kensington Walk on a wet Saturday with David – and he was great! He showed us the real variation of the area, introduced us to the lovely Japan House and told us some great facts in a lively manner interspersed with fascinating anecdotes about the people who lived in Kensington.
We are still thinking about TS Eliot walking around with green face makeup so he could look ill!” VerityGraceKirk, TripAdvisor, October 2019

“We enjoyed an absorbing time wandering around a small part of Kensington with our guide, David. His tour combined an eye for interesting detail with an analysis of social history, putting the “village” of Kensington within the wider London context. He also discusses contemporary local trends, including the increasing cultural diversity. We enjoyed a brief foray into Japan House to see some of the exquisite items on display, and were pleased to have pointed out some of the quirkier shops amongst the, mainly, chains.
It was well planned, good value at well over the advertised two hours, and the delivery was lively.” Sydbunyip, TripAdvisor, November 2019

LONDON WALKS ADDED VALUE

Be sure to ask Adam or David or Corin for a toothsome recommendation or two if you’re feeling peckish after the walk

Or click here to listen to David’s Where to Eat in Kensington podcast.

And here’s David’s podcast about the Conservation Area David explores on his Kensington Walk.

CODA

Not in London but fancy going on this walk? Try the Sights & Secrets of Kensington Virtual Tour.

Want more walks like this? Check out our other literary tours of London.

 

Happy walkers at the end of the Kensington tour with guide Adam

Don’t just take it from us…

These are a distillation of David’s and Adam’s 161 reviews –

For the full monte, scroll down…

LONDON WALKS PRIVATE WALKS

If you can’t make one of the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, Kensington***** The Royal Village – 168 Five-Star Reviews it can always be booked as a private tour. If you go private you can have the Kensington***** The Royal Village – 168 Five-Star Reviews walk – or any other London Walk – on a day and at a time that suits your convenience. We’ll tailor it to your requirements. Ring Fiona or Mary on 020 7624 3978 or email us at [email protected] and we’ll set it up and make it happen for you. A private London Walk – they’re good value for an individual or couple and sensational value for a group – makes an ideal group or educational or birthday party or office (team-building) or club outing.

GIVE THE GIFT OF LONDON WALKS

A private London Walk makes a fab gift – be it a birthday or anniversary or Christmas present or whatever. Merchandise schmerchandise (gift wrapped or not) – but giving someone an experience, now that’s special. Memories make us rich.

LONDON WALKS – STREETS AHEAD!

Don’t just take it from us.

OTHER TOURS YOU MAY LIKE

169 reviews for Kensington***** The Royal Village – 168 Five-Star Reviews

  1. Sally Wheatley

    David has the rich voice of a RSC actor, the likeability of Tom Hanks/Michael Palin (who doesn’t like at least one of those two?) and the ability to inform and entertain of David Attenborough. Yesterday afternoon, I counted myself as extremely fortunate to have been on the Kensington – Royal Village walk led by this extremely knowledgeable guide. Despite having frequented Kensington many times in my early twenties, I had never discovered the little hidden pathways, gardens and mews that David uncovered in this walk whilst always giving easily understood and entertaining stories of the history of the area. I defy anyone not to have been fascinated by the extraordinary range of information he gave: from celebrity and royal dwellings to architectural clues, to raising our eyes to see things which would otherwise have passed unnoticed to anecdotes which gave constant smiles – this walk quite simply was Superb and not to be missed!

  2. Stephen Martin

    One of the most enjoyable afternoons I have spent in London in recent times. David’s tour of the four villages of Kensington was utterly fascinating. He delivers erudite and thought provoking information in a lively and witty style that kept us totally engaged for over 2.5 hours. He was very generous with his time. I live partly in Kensington and did not know any of this stuff. If you want to look under the bonnet of this great city and truly understand how it was made, there is no better way. Forget bus tours! I have also done legal London and TS Elliot. All superb. Easily the best walking tour company and incredibly good value. Don’t hesitate.

  3. Andrew Bailey

    David was a fantastic guide around Kensington: knowledgeable, enthusiastic and entertaining in equal measure. This is very much a nooks and crannies look at London – there’s no real “and around this corner is the Great Pyramid moment”, but the devil is often in the detail. In addition, his Kensington credentials were very much boosted when he was greeted by name by locals on just about every street.

  4. Full Not Glum St. Ives

    “Never failed to be amazed at the entertainment on these walks. Of all the ones I have done, the uniform areas are 1 The walk leaders are brilliant. Knowledgeable, entertaining and loud enough to be heard by all. 2 Hidden gems of London hiding behind the rush you normally see when sightseeing, shopping or just going to work in London. 3 Great eating recommendations in places you would not normally find. The reason you should do one of these walks early on your London trip? You will want to do another! This time we did the Old Kensington walk. It did not sound as dramatic as some of the other walks, but it was breathtaking. From meeting up at High Street Kensington tube station and all the rush there, within minutes we were transported back 300 years into a quiet and peaceful area. Lots of history, interesting insights into how the area developed, how housing styles developed, famous people who lived there, secret gardens both at ground level and higher, stables converted into shops and houses, even stables on the 1st floor. The church we went into was so quiet and the size of a cathedral, the history outside equally as interesting. At the end of the walk, we retraced our steps on our own to take it all in – but it needs the expert to bring out all the interesting details. We stopped at one of the recommended eating places mentioned by the guide – very good.”

  5. Mick

    We went on the Kensington tour with guide Adam. It was superb. Adam is a brilliant guide … highly knowledgeable, very informative and consistently entertaining (no mean feat over two hours!). He clearly has a passion for London and a passion for passing on that love to his audience. Great value for money. Highly recommended. A terrific way to learn about the greatest city in the world.

  6. andrew cooper

    Excellent. Cannot recommend this walk highly enough. Was absolutely fascinating, lasted almost 3 hours and was enthralling, interesting, funny and informative for every minute. David was the perfect guide, would choose another walk simply by knowing he was doing it.

  7. Michael Langan

    David is the perfect knowledgeable, welcoming and genial host. He clearly loves guiding and imparting his intimate knowledge of Kensington and its many hidden treasures. I have travelled through Kensington many times over the past 40 years but now realize I never noticed 95% of its many attractions, its history, its mews, its gardens and magnificent period buildings. David opened a whole new world to be explored and appreciated. His openness and willingness to enter into post walk discussions was very refreshing and rewarding. I recommend the walk as the perfect way to spend 2 hours in great company after which a walk through Kensington will never feel the same.

  8. Carole

    There’s so much history and so many stories to be told, right on our doorstep and just ripe for the telling. David is a passionate and knowledgeable guide and an engaging storyteller. Thanks to David and London Walks for sharing.

  9. Helen J

    The reviews here really are genuine and true, this was an outstanding way to fill a couple of hours in London. David was an engaging and inspiring guide. The whole tour flew by far too quickly and left me wanting to book another walking tour (preferably with David!) very soon indeed.
    I highly recommend David and his brilliant tours.

  10. Susan

    I’ve now gone on 6 London Walks at various times, and the Kensington Walk with David was one of the best. David’s genuine fascination with the details of the area’s history comes across in his rich, sonorous voice and his warm, genial approach. He’s funny, engaging, and a superb storyteller. He is also very respectful of the inhabitants of the area and over time, has developed positive relationships with merchants and residents. In turn, they have shared personal stories and specialized knowledge with him. One feature of this walk I especially loved was the way he used maps and photos from different periods to illustrate the changes over time and where you can trace the earlier neighbourhood beneath or alongside the more contemporary one. Highly recommended!

  11. Oumniya

    A very interesting walk that will change forever the way you look at London and understand it. David has such a passion and enthusiasm for what he does and knows how to transmit this to his audience. He has a unique way of telling the story of London and putting it in an interesting way in context of the world evolution. He clearly deeply researched the topics he discusses and thus is able to articulate them in such a fluid and comprehensive way. Really recommend to try it for yourself!

  12. Ryan Weller

    This was a fascinating and most enjoyable walk through historic Kensington, including parts that I would never have found alone. The church was a particular delight, and one to which I knew beforehand that I have a historical family connection. David was a most excellent guide, so knowledgeable and effective at communicating that knowledge. Having read many of the recent comments, I fully agree with the feedback from other commenters.

  13. Steve Whittaker

    David guided us around Kensington and gave a fascinating insight into the history of Kensington and the many well known inhabitants both past and present. David’s passion and knowledge was a delight and our group of 15 from Edenbridge U3A learnt a great deal. Our thanks go to David and we look forward to booking more tours with London Walks in the future.

  14. Steve Lesley

    I have now down 47 walks since the end of the last lockdown and it is true to see that I have enjoyed everyone.

    This tour was the first time I did for the second time. First time with Adam and the second time yesterday with David.

    Whilst the tour had the same name each guide provided numerous differing facts. The tour I did yesterday with my wife was with David who delivered the information in the most flamboyant style I have seen to date.

    He was able to keep our group of around 20 engrossed in the history of the area and the follow up email has left me wanting more!

    Well done David an excellent tour

  15. Brad Feuer

    David is a fantastic guide, raconteur, and font of great knowledge big and small. As a not infrequent visitor to London, I have seen all corners of the city, all fascinating, and they are always all the more fascinating with London Walks. David’s Kensington-Royal Village walk is a superb edition to my collection – and will be to yours too. Yes, there is the expected drama of the royal family in all of their theatrics if that is what interests you. But the neighbourhood is so much more – small architectural details, bygone slums and vanity palaces, mews, churches, embassies, lanes, shops and in fact the entire story of London in one house. Go on David’s tour to understand how that can be! Plus, if you stick around, there’s an incredible bonus payoff at the end after the official tour is done, and it is well worth the price of admission! I learned a lot, discovered a lot, and it was all a lot of fun! Highly recommended.

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