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Hotel Highlights

  • Superb location: Kensington’s attractions within a 10-minute walk
  • Space – even the smallest rooms are pretty big
  • Huge floor-to-ceiling windows in all rooms guarantee plenty of natural light

Overview

A quiet South Kensington hideaway in the midst of London's museum-land, the Kensington Hotel hides behind the façade of a refined, well-kept townhouse off of Old Brompton Road. Inside, the style is just as elegant and thought-out, from the hand-picked furniture to the singular light fixtures in the surprisingly large rooms. Amid all this glamour, the dark-wood-panelled bar, with its spectacular chandeliers, stands out as a glamorous spot for a pre- or post-dinner cocktail.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking The Kensington Hotel London with us:

An Aromatherapy Associates gift, and members are invited to the Aubrey Bar on arrival to make and enjoy one of four Smith-inspired cocktails each

Facilities

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Need To Know

Rooms

149, including 22 suites.

Check–out

Midday, though this is flexible subject to availability; earliest check-in, 2pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $310.59 (£195), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Continental breakfast is an additional £15 a person.

Also

The huge brass doors in the Aubrey Bar have been taken from Dublin’s General Post Office, scene of the infamous 1916 Easter Rising. Keep an eye out for bullet holes.

At the hotel

Gym, CD/DVD library, free WiFi, laundry service, valet parking. In rooms: flatscreen TVs, minibar, air-conditioning, free bottled water, CD/DVD players on request, Temple Spa toiletries, Nespresso machines in some rooms.

Our favourite rooms

We love Asian-inspired Studio Suite 115, mainly for its uplifting yellow, purple and blue colour scheme. It comes with gold-coloured hardwood floors, light-flooding windows and an enormous bathroom with double sinks and a TV built into the end of the bath. We also like the huge Corner Suite 123, with its green velvet chairs and access to a terrace, and high-ceilinged Standard Room 121, which comes with bold red flower-patterned curtains and matching satin pillows.

Packing tips

You’ll need to pack some serious party clothes for the downstairs nightclub – the royal-rubbing Boujis crowd around the corner regularly make this their second (or third) home.

Children

Kids are welcome at the hotel, and baby cribs are provided free of charge. Extra beds can be put into rooms for £35 a night, babysitting is available for £10.50 an hour (plus £25 booking fee) and there’s a children’s menu in the Aubrey restaurant.

Food & Drink

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Hotel Restaurant

The Aubrey Restaurant is where chef Russell Ford serves up wonderful English cuisine – peppered sirloin steak, roasted lemon-and-thyme chicken, and rhubarb and apple crumble – to a food-savvy crowd. Diners sit on green leather chairs at round wooden tables, and are free to move from the dining room into the bar whenever they feel. The atmosphere is casual.

Hotel Bar

With its wood-panelled walls, six gorgeous glass teardrop chandeliers and enormous brass doors, the Aubrey Bar has a wonderful step-back-in-time feel. Sink back into one of the comfy dark-purple couches and send waiters scurrying to and from the mosaic-covered, semi-circular bar to bring you selections from the extensive cocktail menu. We recommend the Queen’s Gate Garden.

Last orders

The Aubrey Restaurant stops taking orders at 10pm; the Aubrey Bar carries on serving till midnight.

Room service

Sandwiches, burgers, salads and other light dishes – and, of course, drinks – are available 24 hours a day.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Comfortable, low-level glamour.

Top table

Try to secure one of the long, leather banquettes for genuine comfort eating.

Local Guide

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Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

Here in South Kensington, you're close to the Royal Albert Hall, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the wonderful V&A, as well as Kensington Palace and Hyde Park (where you can also visit the Serpentine Gallery). There's swanky shopping galore, too, with Knightsbridge and Kensington High Street nearby – so you can get Harrods ticked off your shopping-to-do list. It's only a short Tube ride into the centre of London, if you want to catch a show in the West End or explore Covent Garden's boutiques and markets.

Local restaurants

Good options near the hotel include the bistros at The Pelham or The Gore; French restaurant Aubaine at 262 Brompton Road ((0)20 7052 0100); and, for excellent Iberian tapas, Casa Brindisa at 7–9 Exhibition Road (+44 (0)20 7590 0008). Sherry and ham take centre stage at Capote y Toros, at 157 Old Brompton Road ((0)20 7373 0567). There’s a well-curated wine list and inventive small plates such as lamb sweetbreads and fresh garlic-infused artichokes mixed with mushrooms. Walls are lined with photos of bullfighters and candid family snaps. South Ken's Bumpkin ((0)20 7341 0802, www.bumpkinuk.com) serves a hearty brunch and their indoor BBQ oven, nicknamed 'Bertha', cooks a mean 'firebread'. A 10-minute walk from the hotel, Obikà's ((0)20 7581 5208, http://obika.com) mozzarella bar will satiate even the most ardent cheese enthusiast, and close by you'll find Daphne's ((0)20 7589 4257, www.daphnes-restaurant.co.uk), which serves authentic Italian fare – there's a separate pasta and meat course – alongside a decadent black-truffle-infused set menu. Seasonal British comfort food – stacks of eggs and bacon and gourmet goodie-filled platters – can be found at Tom's Kitchen ((0)207 349 0202, www.tomskitchen.co.uk) on Cale Street in Chelsea, and Patara ((0)207 351 5692, www.pataralondon.com) is a trendy Thai joint.

Local bars

Have a few drinks before dining at Bluebird Restaurant and Bar on the King's Road (+44 (0)20 7559 1000). The Admiral Codrington ((0)20 7581 0005, www.theadmiralcodrington.co.uk) is a cosy boozer with velvet banquettes, private booths and an excellent burger on the food menu.

Local cafés

The Hummingbird Bakery and its tempting array of pastel-iced cupcakes and sweet delights is just around the corner on Old Brompton Road. Hang out there while Mr Smith gawps at Lamborghinis in the showroom on the corner. Muriel's Kitchen ((0)20 7589 3511, http://murielskitchen.co.uk) is a cosy family-friendly lunching spot on Pelham Street. Dishes such as slow- and low-cooked spicy pork and chilli-pepper goulash, and creamy chicken and apricot curry feature on the moreish menu.

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Sumptuous South Ken

The Kensington Hotel London

109-113 Queen's Gate, London SW7 5LR, United Kingdom

Planes

The Kensington Hotel is 15 miles from London Heathrow.

Trains

The nearest Tube station is South Kensington, on the District, Circle and Piccadilly lines. The hotel is also within five miles of Paddington, Victoria and Waterloo, from where you can catch trains all over the country.

Automobiles

From Heathrow, follow the M4 into central London and look out for the Natural History Museum to turn right onto Queensbury Place.

Reviews

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Anonymous review

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

Reviewed by Howard Bernstein City hotel bars can be full of lonely, wandering travellers – but they’re also ripe with possibility. Think Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation. Mrs Smith and I are relaxing in the Kensington Hotel’s amber-hued lounge, eyeballing a chandelier like a belly dancer’s belt, when I have my own Bill Murray moment. Instead of spying Scarlett J…
Read more

The Kensington Hotel London

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

Reviewed by Howard Bernstein

City hotel bars can be full of lonely, wandering travellers – but they’re also ripe with possibility. Think Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation. Mrs Smith and I are relaxing in the Kensington Hotel’s amber-hued lounge, eyeballing a chandelier like a belly dancer’s belt, when I have my own Bill Murray moment. Instead of spying Scarlett Johansson lingering longingly, proffering peanuts and parties, I notice Erin O’Connor: she’s sitting right behind my beloved.

If I squeeze my left eye shut a little, and squint, I can transpose my lady’s head onto Erin’s limbs. Alternatively, if I wiggle my right eyeball, I can shimmy Erin’s sleekly coiffed head onto Mrs Smith’s body. It’s a visual bull’s-eye, either way. It’s also earned my unstinting loyalty to this hotel – going for cocktails and spotting someone Karl Lagerfeld describes as ‘one of the best models in the world’ is enough to keep me coming back.

Mrs Smith scrutinises me suspiciously. ‘What’s wrong with you?’ she hisses. ‘Your eyes are twitching!’ Deciding this is no time for subterfuge, I alert her to the presence of our model neighbour. She’s instantly enthralled. Minutes later, we’re sitting with Erin on a low-slung sofa, discussing politics over ghostly martinis and finger-thin rosemary grissini.

To the right of our VIP, a pair of sulky temptresses converse over dinner (Mrs Smith and I are booked in for food too, and the wafts from their plates are highly encouraging). To our left, an elderly German couple with gravity-defying hairdos and bandbox-neat attire are talking art, casting the occasional smile our way. It’s remarkably relaxed, more than a bit refined, and utterly cosy.

Sadly, our gazelle-like companion has a former engagement to attend, and leaves us basking in her afterglow. We’re more than happy à deux though, and enjoying the freedom to critique our surroundings. Check-in has made a good impression on me: warm welcome, citrus-scented towels, and instant upgrade to a Corner Studio Suite. My lady was also impressed by the lobby, with its red marble counter and Jan Pienkowski-style wall murals of trees. I rather fancy the light that mushrooms from the ceiling like a scrunch of giant bubble wrap.

Mrs Smith stretches out an impeccably manicured hand, pinches a hickory-smoked almond from the silver dish in front of us, and declares, through a nut crunch: ‘What I love about the Kensington is that it doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. It’s a hotel, plain and simple, and a very good one at that. You can tell that from the reception: it’s not a secret bunker, or a robot-staffed techno den. It’s a hotel reception. Staff wear uniforms. None of this gritty urban twaddle, where a hotel needs sulky service and garbage bags for sheets, in order to be considered cutting-edge.’

I murmur in absent-minded agreement (disregarding the fact that we have never, to my knowledge, slept on garbage bags, or been checked-in by robots), and nibble companionably on lemon- and chilli-spiked popcorn.

My lady continues to wax lyrical. We both praise the drawing room, styled like an opulent clubhouse, with carefully curated artworks, heavy drapes and flickering fires. I’m already imagining afternoon tea here, when my stomach interrupts with a growl.

Luckily, it’s dinner time, so Mrs Smith and I abandon our snug corner for a prime spot in the masculine Aubrey restaurant, styled with toffee-brown wood panelling and chunky green leather banquettes (Murray could have filmed his Tokyo whisky ad here). We sit at the back, right by the window, overlooking the elegant chalk-white townhouses.

Following a ravishing meal – plump scallops with pea shoots and broad beans in a tomato broth, followed by a melting duck confit with peppery potato hash – we stagger back to our boudoir. Our glitzy gold suite ticks the boutique boxes: desirable mod cons (giant TV, iPod dock), and make-yourself-at-home luxury. Candy-coloured furnishings – lime-green chairs, violet lampshade, cherry-drop-red antique chair in the bathroom – have Mrs Smith reconsidering the complexion of our Stateside pad.

The outside of our suite is equally impressive: a balcony with views of Queen’s Gate, just blocks from Hyde Park (scene of my morning jog). Anyone familiar with suave South Kensington will know that’s as peaceful a respite from central London as you could find, and boasts the lion’s share of the city’s cultural Titans: the V&A and the Natural History Museum, with the Royal Albert Hall, Harrods, Christie’s, and the Serpentine Gallery within easy reach.

Tonight though, we’re staying put. As Mrs Smith sinks into a plush velvet armchair, and considers a bottle of room service red, I retreat to the bathroom, with a good old-fashioned soak in mind. Having previously encountered luxury hotels in Europe with showers the size of shoe closets, this palatial preening area has me purring (there’s even a TV above the bath, for chrissake). And let me tell you something: warm towel rack equals instant bliss. Rainy London days pose no threat, when there’s a steaming bath and a toasty towel beckoning in your hotel room.

The next morning, post-run, I make my final discovery: the fitness facilities. The Kensington Hotel has a full gym, with equipment that outshines most health clubs in New York. I’ve discovered the perfect spot in which to reverse the waistline-widening effects of last night’s dinner (I omitted mention of a mint and chocolate calorie-burst in my earlier account – put it down to denial). The memory of this sugar-hit keeps me thrashing around on the running machine for a good hour or so. Sweat-dripped and aching, I feel infinitely masculine. If only Erin could see me now…

The Guestbook

Reviews of The Kensington Hotel London from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…

BlackSmith

Stayed on no

We loved

The service is excellent and I stayed in a beautiful room.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The location was good.

Don’t expect

The window would not close properly and it was noisy outside one night.

Rating: 4/10 stars

GoldSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked the great service, stunning rooms, amazing breakfasts (what a feast!) and the great cocktails at the bar.

Rating: 7/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

On all fronts, it was top notch. As an extremely weary business traveller I arrived there at 10am thinking I would just drop my bag and soldier on until my room was ready, but they immediately checked me in (I cannot tell you how rare this is!) The location is terrific, near South Kensington tube, which links to the Piccadilly (Heathrow) and District and Circle lines. It's also only a hop to both the V&A and Harrods. The rooms are quiet and comfortable with very luxe amenities, including an espresso machine and San Pelegrino each day. There is a very well-outfitted gym in the basement. The breakfast buffet was wonderful and the staff incredibly accommodating and service oriented. I would stay here again in a heartbeat!

Don’t expect

Floors can be a bit creaky and hallways narrow, but hey, it's an old Georgian home so it's part of the charm.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked the excellent service and friendly staff, and the very comfortable spacious room, as well as the attention to detail on things such as servicing the room and the provision of a Nespresso coffee machine. The thoughtful extras such as jasmine tea in the room in the evening and a bottle of water for each of us when leaving were great.

Don’t expect

There are no improvements we can think of!

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked the great location, the attentive service, the special touches like free water, tea and biscuits at turn down, apples to grab on your way out, and the very comfortable bed.

Don’t expect

A little bit more closet space and drawers would be good, as would less noisy upstairs guests.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

We booked this hotel for my Husband's 40th Birthday celebration and what a perfect hotel! From the moment we arrived to check in, the staff were extremely professional and welcoming. The room was lovely, it was very clean the bed was so comfortable, most importantly the room was very peaceful and quiet without any disturbance from other guests or outside traffic. There were lots of extra finishing touches which were done to make us feel special and important. All members of staff we dealt with (reception, porter bar staff) were very friendly and made sure we were well cared for during our stay. We used the hotel as a base, since we had lots of other activities booked in Central London during our stay, so we are unable to comment on the dining experience (but we are sure it would have been perfect). It was easy to walk to the nearest tube and was also within easy walking distance of local attractions. We can't wait go back again. We would definitely recommend as the hotel was of a much better quality than other similar hotels we have used in the past - thank you!

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The location is fantastic and the common areas of the hotel are stylish and peaceful.

Don’t expect

Don't book a standard room if you are tall; the bed was shorter than expected.

Rating: 6/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

A beautiful boutique hotel in a lovely area of London, close to metro and busses and lots of interesting shops and restaurants. Staff is lovely and very accommodating.

Don’t expect

I can't think of anything that could be better really.

Rating: 9/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Very comfortable bed; plenty of space in the room; delicious breakfast.

Don’t expect

Restaurant staff rushed us a bit with bills, etc – they could have been a bit more discreet and had us finished and out in the same amount of time.

Rating: 9/10 stars