Things You Might Not Have Done In The Borough Of Kensington And Chelsea

Harry Rosehill
By Harry Rosehill Last edited 26 months ago
Things You Might Not Have Done In The Borough Of Kensington And Chelsea

London's smallest borough has plenty of well-known things to do including, of course, its blockbuster museums. But you can also play giant chess here, visit a strip of Portuguese cafes and peruse a bookshop just for cooks. Here's our selection of lesser-known activities in the area.

Brompton Oratory. Photo: bradman334

Listen to Nick Cave at Brompton Oratory

Brompton Oratory might get less attention than its next-door-neighbour, the V&A, but it warrants at least 20 minutes of your time. The neo-classical Roman Catholic church is an architectural wonder. Rather bizarrely, it was a popular spot for Russian Cold War spies, too. Pop on your headphones and listen to Nick Cave's song of the same name while you study the frescoes.

See naughty pictures at 18 Stafford Terrace

18 Stafford Place was the home of Victorian Punch cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne, and has been kept as such — the walls lined with his satirical cartoons (though many of them are a bit obscure now). There's more to it than just funny drawings; 18 Stafford Place offers a glimpse of  'Aesthetic interior', a Victorian movement advocating the use of exotic influences in the decoration of one's home. Oh, and the bathroom is one of London's most erotic. Enjoy.

Eat in Diana's old local

Princess Diana will always have a faithful following, and where better to show off that appreciation, than at a cafe dedicated to her. There was no grand plan behind Cafe Diana when it started back in 1989. The then-owner was struggling for a name... then he saw Diana across the street. Di became a semi-regular at the establishment, which is covered in pictures of her (some of her at this very establishment). You can get the same English breakfast she ate back in the 1990s. This place is as much for locals and Londoners as it is for tourists.

The London Archers. Photo: Diane Logel

Make like Errol Flynn

Draw back a bow string and unleash your inner Robin Hood. Join The London Archers in Kensington Palace Gardens. Warning: you might occasionally get booted off if a royal helicopter is landing, which is rather surreal. This only takes places in the summer months, and we can't imagine it's much fun in the rain — even if it would give you a 'poor visibility' excuse when your arrow inevitably goes miles off course.

Go cookbook shopping

Books for Cooks — ever so surprisingly — sells cookbooks. And that's the only kind of book it sells. The shop also smells delicious; that's because every day, staff source ingredients from the local market stalls and whip up lunch in the shop's test kitchen. Everything they make comes from one book or other in the shop. Fool yourself into buying the book afterwards, and try making that tart taste half as nice as they did.

Photo: Fabio Lugaro

Play giant chess

There's more to Holland Park than Kyoto Gardens (though that is a nice way to stroll off a hangover). How about a giant game of chess, to show off your wits for the world to see. For those of you who've watched a tad too much Harry Potter, do not fear — these pieces won't attack you if you lose. Unless one of your mates gets a bit too exuberant and thwacks you with one.

Perfect your slice beneath the Westway

The Westway runs from central London to... well the west. Underneath the roundabout near Ladbroke Grove station is the Westway Sports & Fitness Centre. As cars gracefully glide on to Oxford and beyond overhead, you can perfect your backhand slice on their outdoor clay courts. Make sure you don't put too much oomph into your serve and get done for speeding.

The Westway. Photo: Compound Eye

Go Portuguese at Golborne Road's Cafes

Up at the northern tip of the borough is Golborne Road. The street is peppered with some delightful cafes, a handful of them Portuguese. We highly recommend getting a coffee and pastéis de nata here and listening to people chat in Portuguese, before going to gawk at the nearby Trellick Tower, or hunt for bargains on Portobello Road.

Cocktails at Chelsea Cloisters

Chelsea Cloisters are apartments aimed at travellers, serviced like a hotel, but with more privacy. If you knock on one particular door, you'll find yourself transported into the speakeasy Barts (complete with lovely courtyard). It's open 6pm till late every day; we recommend not getting too rowdy/ordering a classic rather than from the menu — you don't want to anger the Chicago gangsters who run the place.

Photo: Steve Reed

Honest Jon's

Pop into one of London's most beloved record stores, Honest Jon's on Portobello Road. While you're there, we'd recommend giving a spin to some of the wax they've released on their own label. It ranges from cutting edge electronic music to niche compilation albums curated by dedicated crate diggers. You will come out with awesome sounds ringing in your ears and a decidedly light wallet.

Last Updated 09 February 2017