Welcome to South Kensington
Bordering Knightsbridge and Chelsea, South Kensington is a refined neighbourhood that is world-renowned for its esteemed culture and elegant properties. The semi-pedestrianised Exhibition Road allows brightly coloured café and restaurant canopies to fill the square, creating a Parisian feel. Though, this may also have something to do with the nearby Lycée Français schools, French Consulate and Institut Français.
Did you know?
The iconic Natural History Museum first opened its doors in 1881 and has been a film location for Hollywood features The Mummy, Tomb Raider and Basic Instinct 2.
Home of the arts
Unsurprisingly, the Royal Albert Hall and Royal College of Music have attracted creative residents over the years. Eric Clapton and composers Benjamin Britten and Béla Bartók have all called the area home.
South Kensington was home to the first, independent Caffè Nero coffee shop and Waterstones bookshop, before they grew into the high street giants they are today.
The magnificent, tall townhouses lining South Kensington’s streets mostly house luxurious apartments and maisonettes, popular with European families looking to be close to good schools. Yet there are also a surprising amount of mews streets and pastel storybook cottages tucked away, visible from busier streets through stone archways. Whitewashed mansions and villas overlooking small squares and greens have strong staying power for those families looking to buy in the area.
A bustling international hub, South Kensington is home to various embassies, global banks, language schools and the esteemed Imperial College of London. The neighbourhood is particularly desirable to a variety of renters, including affluent international students and expats looking for residences on a more ephemeral basis. Just a stone’s throw for locals are the many legendary cultural attractions. The Natural History Museum, Science Museum and V&A, as well as the Royal Albert Hall, are world-renowned attractions drawing visitors of all nationalities, year-round. Their varied calendars provide exhibitions, events, workshops and performances that will easily keep you coming back for more. Although, there are also plenty of green spaces to explore, delicatessens to frequent and walks to embark on: Hyde Park and Chelsea Embankment can be reached on foot in 15-20 minutes and are popular with walkers, joggers, cyclists and dog owners alike. Transport-wise, the Circle and District lines allow quick access around Central London, making an ideal base for those working in Westminster or the City.
The best of South Kensington: things to do
For a small neighbourhood, the food options are certainly packed in here. The smorgasbord of international residents and visitors ensure there is naturally a cuisine for everyone.
This legendary restaurant in South Kensington has all the charm of a French bistro, although is in fact London’s oldest Polish restaurant. A regular haunt of Polish nationals and curious diners, expect dishes such as traditional schnitzel and pierogi to warm your soul.
Created by Michelin-starred Jeff Tan of Hakansan fame, this low-key but extraordinary culinary gem provides tapas-style Vietnamese bites with a modern European twist. Combined with a cool atmosphere, Gỗ Viet is a dining option that never goes out of style.
The art of sushi making is always rather mesmerising and, at Yashin Ocean, you can marvel at the process while you dine in amazing surroundings. Tucked away on the Old Brompton Road, this understated sushi restaurant keeps all eyes on the artistic rolls of sushi. For the adventurous, there are some more contemporary choices on the menu, too.
South Kensington’s watering holes cover everything from classic British pubs and wine bars to luxe cocktail bars in upmarket hotel or theatre lounges.
The Queen’s Arms
This corner pub overlooks a charming mews for a setting that’s quite the British postcard. A cosy setting on a typical wet winter’s evening, as well as a surprisingly stellar option for weekend cocktails - the team prides itself on crafting contemporary and classic tipples.
Apero Restaurant and Bar
The buzzy bar at Apero places as much emphasis on its drinking choices as it does its food menu. This hidden gem sits within The Ampersand’s hotel cellars, creating an intimate setting for a glass of wine, exciting cocktails and non-alcoholic equivalents.
The Anglesea Arms
With its large heated front terrace and lamp posts adorned with flowers, The Anglesea Arms is always a strong contender for drinks with friends. Classic pub interiors, cask ales and bar snacks make it an easy local for those living nearby.
World-renowned ballet, traditional British proms, fringe theatre and much, much more can all be found within the SW7 area.
Lovers of French film can catch both new releases and iconic classics at the Institut Français’ Ciné Lumière. Look out for various film festivals, special screenings and series throughout the year.
Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall is the crown jewel of South Kensington’s attractions. A spectacular programme of ballet, opera, proms and even huge sporting events fill the hall throughout the year. The Grade I listed building is a marvel in itself, dating back to the 19th century.
IMAX at the Science Museum
A variety of immersive and educational screenings cover topics from nature and geography to space exploration at the Science Museum’s IMAX cinema. Narrated by familiar Hollywood names, these films are guaranteed to thrill audiences of all ages.
Make like a tourist and find something different to do on any day of the year in South Kensington’s museums, or take some time out and relax in the quiet greens and parks.
Natural History Museum
One of London’s most impressive museums is home to much more than towering dinosaur fossils - not to say this isn’t worth a visit alone. 70 million specimens rotate through the exhibit halls, ensuring there’s always something of interest to muse over. Expect a quirky diary of events, along with educational and family-friendly activities.
The Science Museum
The Science Museum takes you on a remarkable voyage of discovery from the moment you enter, encompassing space, time, engineering and biology. If you are interested in science, this museum brims with one of the world’s greatest collections of technology exhibits in 3,000 square metres of mind-blowing galleries.
Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum
Located next to the Natural History and Science museums, this extraordinary building hosts exhibits from fashion through design, mesmerising jewellery and classical sculptures. A visit feels like you are taking a journey through every aspect of human and cultural history. An extraordinary piazza, pond and garden transport you to a Florentine palace, while the entrance feels like you are entering a grand, Parisian ballroom.
Property in South Kensington
South Kensington boasts plenty of wide, tree-lined streets with the most incredible stucco-fronted period Vicotiran houses. Many of these have been divided up into apartments. The community here has an international feel, and is particularly popular with French expats, corporate workers and high net worth individuals.
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Renters are drawn to South Kensington for its history, excellent cultural offerings and a genteel atmosphere that betrays its central London location. Properties on garden squares, for example Onslow Gardens, Cornwall Gardens, Ennismore Gardens and Rutland Gate, will always go at a premium. Another factor to consider is proximity to the French schools in the area - houses close to these are always in high demand with South Kensington’s French community.
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As with much of prime central London, the cost of buying a property in South Kensington can vary hugely. The size of a property can dramatically impact costs. If you’re looking for an apartment, the floor the property is on is also important; first floor, lateral flats will command the highest prices, as will those with lift access.
Marsh & Parsons in the South Kensington community
We don’t just sell and let property in London; we’re Londoners too. Engaging with our local communities is at the heart of Marsh & Parsons’ ethos and we have supported local organisations, schools, charities, businesses and community groups over the years.
Supporting local businesses
We stopped by Penny Blooms and Beans Florists to hear more about bringing the beauty of Chelsea’s famous gardens into people’s homes and spoke with the owners of Meson Don Felipe about tapas, creating a little bit of Spain in the UK, and what they love about Central London.Find out more