This is a sponsored article created in partnership with Olympia London.
There might be 130 years of history to explore in Olympia London — not to mention the huge variety of events that take place throughout the year — but the local area also offers a wealth of options for turning a day out west into a day to remember. We’ve picked eight different directions to head in with traditional pubs, leafy walks and historical buildings to explore.
Just ten minutes round the corner, Holland Park is a gorgeous multi-layered landscape that has zen gardens, summer opera and peacocks wandering free. It opened in 1952 to coincide with the Queen’s coronation but its history stretches back to the 17th century when Sir Walter Cope first built his family a castle in the woods. This was later renamed Holland House and, though damaged in the war, it’s still a cultural and culinary hub with a great café in the Orangery and Marco Pierre White’s Belvedere restaurant nearby.
The Churchill Arms
This famous pub on Kensington Church Street is frothing with greenery outside, while the interior is filled with curios and memorabilia connected to the Churchill family. Apparently, Winston’s grandparents were regulars in the 1800s which prompted the pub to adopt their name after world war two. It was also the first pub in London to serve Thai food and still does so to this day. The flowers that hang outside have been cultivated over decades and have won the pub prizes at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Kensington’s shops and bars
If it’s high-class retail therapy you need after seeing all the ideas at Olympia London’s lifestyle fairs (especially now that the Ideal Home Show is back), you need to head over to Kensington High Street. Thronged with stylish brands, artisanal coffee shops and great evening bars, a pit-stop at some point in your visit is pretty much essential. Especially worth a look are: the largest branch of Whole Foods Market in the world, the delicious bready goods at Exeter Street Bakery, Maggie Jones’s delightful bistro and, if you gaze upwards, The Roof Gardens, with their cracking cocktails and resident flamingos.
Right behind Olympia London, you can catch your breath in the calm and quiet of Brook Green. Perfect for picnics, this whale-shaped enclave also features a playground and tennis courts and is surrounded by gastropubs, cafés and restaurants. Our pick is The Queen's Head overlooking the grass on one side and a fine beer garden at the back.
This buzzing, colourful market stretches for two miles along Portobello Road featuring antiques at one end and vintage clothes shops at the other, then fruit and veg and homewares in the middle. It’s especially busy on Saturdays — filled with both bargain-hunters and tourists looking for the locations used in Richard Curtis's film Notting Hill. A lesser-known destination that's well worth a look is the Museum Of Brands Packaging And Advertising, which does exactly what it says on the tin (a slogan that's no doubt in there too).
Originally built in 1899 to house the Post Office Savings Bank, this grand Edwardian Baroque building today houses artefacts for, among others, the V&A and the British Museum. You have to book ahead if you want to poke your nose in, but it’s also worth walking past — the listed red brick and Portland stone facade is similar to Olympia London's Pillar Hall (said to be the first cinema in the UK). Recently, Blythe House has been used as a location for films such as Peter Pan and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. A stone’s throw from the building you'll find quirky vintage tearoom Betty Blythe where you can sup earl grey, learn the Charleston or take part in biscuit icing classes (make sure you check on the website to see what's going on and book ahead).
Kensington Palace and Park
Another good place to unwind near Olympia London is Kensington Park, within which is set the royal residence Kensington Palace. The park contains almost too much to do in one go, what with the Diana memorial playground, Italian gardens, Serpentine Gallery and Albert Memorial spread across the expansive greenery. And the Palace is a refined historical treat too: built by Christopher Wren in the 1690s with the lavish state rooms refurbished a few years ago to include exhibitions that cover the people who've lived there over the years from Queen Victoria to Princess Di.
Probably the easiest win for visitors in London is the cluster of museums around Exhibition Road. The Natural History and Science Museums are especially good for kids, with the collection at the V&A more suitable for adults. Between the three is also London’s most expensive street revamp: a scheme for cars and pedestrians to share the deluxe designer roadway that traffic nerds can enjoy examining.
For sheer shopping convenience, you can’t beat the Westfield mega-mall in Shepherd's Bush, a short stroll from Olympia London (or one stop on the Overground). As well as 265 shops there’s a plethora of places to eat, drink and pamper yourself, plus a 17 screen Vue cinema and areas for kids to play.
Find out more at olympia.london