While the affluent area of South Kensington conjures up images of French delicatessens, charming mews and chic European neighbours, it’s underrated neighbour West Kensington still remains a little misunderstood by the general public.
Tucked into a small gap between the well-known names of Hammersmith, Fulham and Shepherd’s Bush, it’s taken many years for West Kensington to establish itself with a distinct identity separate from all the nearby hotspots. Fortunately, Londoners are slowly starting to take notice, particularly young, successful professionals who come to take advantage the generously-proportioned apartments in attractive Victorian terraces while enjoying all the local gastropubs, quirky shops and other amenities that have gradually spilled out of Kensington & Chelsea. With French and Spanish private schools popping up in recent years it’s also become more popular with European families, although the majority of residents are still singles, couples and the occasional student.
Being largely residential and densely populated, West Kensington is a great fit for those seeking a bit of peace while close to all the action, as the vibrant centres of High Street Kensington and Earls Court are just a walk away, but by living here you’re guaranteed a slightly more tranquil existence than you might find in more well-known parts of South West London. Another huge advantage is the rent, which while high compared to South London, is significantly cheaper than the likes of Kensington and Chelsea.
So if you want to live in Kensington but can’t quite stretch to a South Kensington budget, West Kensington might be just the area for you.
On a Map
Situated to the north of Fulham, not far from the river, West Kensington is actually in the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham rather than Kensington and Chelsea which sits on the other side of Earls Court. It is in Zone 2, with a postcode of W14.
History of West Kensington London
The whole of the Kensington area was originally a Saxon settlement, and by the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 the manor was being run by key nobleman Aubrey de Vere I. It remained a minor rural manor until the 16th century, when Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor Thomas More built Beaufort House on the river in nearby Chelsea. Other nobleman began to flock to the area and built grand houses and palaces all along the Thames. Aristocracy followed, as did the king himself in the late 17th century, and the area became known for it’s affluence and beautiful properties.
During the Victorian period the West and North Kensington areas were then transformed by industry into a very urban, developed area with the arrival of many housing estates, as landowners took advantage of the available space in a growing area.
Transport from West Kensington London
West Kensington is very well served when it goes to public transport, particularly if you're commuting around West London or into Central London. West Kensington station is on the District Line, while nearby Earls Court and Barons Court have access to both the District Line and the Piccadilly Line. As a result, Piccadilly Circus is just an 11 minute journey away, and Knightsbridge a mere 5 minutes.
Meanwhile for an easy journey to North, South and East London, the Overground operates from Kensington Olympia, and will take you to Clapham Junction in 17 minutes. There are also lots of buses in the area, going everywhere from Kings Cross to Heathrow Airport.
Cost of Living in West Kensington London
Rental properties in West Kensington may be much better value than in neighbouring Chelsea and South Kensington, but prices are still high, especially compared to other West London areas such as Shepherd’s Bush and Barons Court.
The majority of properties here are Victorian terraces which have been converted into apartments, or former local authority buildings from the post-war period. There are also some quaint mews houses in quiet side streets, although these are rarely on the market, and new, modern housing developments are beginning to appear in the area as the scruffier parts are gradually cleaned up by the council.
As of November 2015, the average rental price for a two-bedroom property in West Kensington is £2940 per month, although properties can found starting from around £1550 per month.
Shops in West Kensington London
Stock up on organic and free range meats at this award-winning local butcher, which offers everything from game birds to filet steaks for all your carnivorous needs. They also have a deli section with artisan cheeses, deli meats, condiments and fresh vegetables, so you can find everything you need for a decadent dinner under one roof.
Address: 51 Palliser Rd, London W14 9EB
Phone: 020 7385 6466
A haven for green-fingered Kensington-dwellers, Rassell’s Nursery on Earls Court Road has an excellent selection of flowers, plants and gardening accessories. What’s more, the friendly staff are full of expert advice and always happy to help you choose what you need.
Address: 80 Earls Ct Rd, London W8 6EQ
Phone: 020 7937 0481
Brush up on your grape knowledge at this brilliant independent wine shop in West Kensington, which has been selling bottles to boozy locals for over two decades. Their extensive collection of wines is unparalleled in the area with everything from quality budget bottles to rare fine wines, while if you’re looking for an educational experience too they also offer a wine subscription service and hold regular tastings.
Address: Roberson Wine, 21-27 Seagrave Road, London SW6 1RP
Phone: 0207 381 7870
Restaurants in West Kensington London
It can be tough to find a good vegetarian restaurant in London, even in the most central areas, but fortunately for vegetable-friendly residents of West Kensington there’s an excellent Vegan restaurant right on the doorstep. With a bright and airy interior and a delicious, nutritious lunch buffet, it’s enough to convince even the most keen meat-eaters to abandon bacon for the day.
Address: 222 North End Rd, London W14 9NU
Phone: 020 7381 2322
Every self-respecting London area needs a good gastropub, and while there are plenty to choose from around West Kensington, there’s something about the relaxed atmosphere and quirky furnishings at The Curtain’s Up which pips the others to the post. Come on a Sunday for an excellent roast dinner.
Address: 28A Comeragh Rd, London, Barons Court W14 9HR
Phone: 020 7386 7543
Forget about your local Wagamamas and tuck into steaming bowls of ramen noodles and fat sushi rolls at the Kensington branch of this Japanese mini-chain instead. The minimalist, canteen-style interiors provide a welcome calm respite from the busy city, and the prices are very reasonable too.
Address: 373 Kensington High St, London W14 8QZ
Phone: 020 7603 8887
Don’t let the low-key exterior fool you - this is almost certainly the best pizzeria you’ll find in West Kensington. Serving up authentic Neapolitan pizzas with a smile, it’s no surprise that Porcini Pizza is beloved by most dough-loving locals. There’s also a great sunny terrace for people-watching on warm summer days.
Address: 244 North End Rd, Fulham, London SW6 1NL
Phone: 20 7386 7788
Things to do in West Kensington London
Following the closure of the Earls Court Exhibition Centre in 2014, the enormous Kensington Olympia Centre is now the go-to spot in the area for any big trade events. There’s something new on every week, from the Ideal Home Show to the London Book Fair, so whatever your interests you’re bound to find something you enjoy.
Address: Hammersmith Rd, London W14 8UX
Phone: 020 7385 1200
Avoid the crowds at Kensington Gardens if you’re looking for some quiet greenery and head to Brompton Cemetery in nearby West Brompton instead. As one of London’s Magnificent Seven cemeteries it’s a Grade II listed spot with a domed chapel, spooky catacombs and long colonnades, and can frequently be spotted in popular films and photo shoots.
Address: Fulham Rd, London SW10 9UG
Phone: 020 7352 1201
Fancy yourself as the next Andy Murray, or just looking for a friendly match on the court? The Queen’s Club holds the honour of being the world first multipurpose sports complex when it was built in 1886. It’s now a well-established members club for Lawn Tennis, Real Tennis, Rackets and Squash on some seriously nice courts. While it may take you a while to get approved for membership, they also host international championships throughout the year so you can watch your favourite tennis stars without trekking to Wimbledon.
Address: Palliser Rd, London W14 9EQ
Phone: 020 7386 3400
Main image credit: Paul Joyce