Live Life In The Lap Of Luxury
Wouldn't it be nice to enjoy a never-ending whirl of cocktails, champagne and fine dining, followed by a recovery brunch or late luxury lunch; all wrapped up with romance, recriminations, laughter, drama and a love of gossip. This week our spontaneous spotlight is turned firmly on the upmarket Kensington area. Here is our essential guide to where to eat, sleep, drink and relax in this exclusive London enclave.
To find you the best bar recommendations we turned to someone who is used to moving and shaking with the beautiful people, BarChick. We asked her to pick her three favourite Kensington haunts:
The Phene: This is one of the best bar terraces about. Expect stylish garden furniture, swinging chairs and comfy pillows surrounded by a whole lot of plants... swanky. PLUS these guys have frozen Daiquiris (we love a slush puppy party). Bar Chick says "get your shades on, compose your pose, get a round in and stay here all afternoon".
The Bluebird Bar: If you wanna get in with the bad boys then this is a good place to do it dah-ling. This is usually where the movers and shakers head for a Bloody Mary to sort their hangovers and piece together what exactly happened the night before... the perfect cure. Head upstairs to the big industrial-styled bar, perch provocatively on one of their mis-matched art deco chairs and work though the cocktail menu whilst chatting viciously about the opposite sex. Oh and the windows overlooking the KR (the King's Road to you and me) are perfect for flagging in more of the rah crowd. Azteca: For the people who know how to party and hard. We say join them in Azteca, because tequila is definitely the most fun you can have with your clothes on. Steer in off the Kings Road (avoiding the red trousers) and get the night going with a tonne of perfectly executed Margaritas and add in some nachos so you can remember it! You might see the great and the good getting a load of shots … tequila lets off happy endorphins right?!
Just off Gloucester Road, Olives Restaurant and Bar is an authentic Italian in the heart of Kensington. So if you haven't the funds to jet off to Italy for a Mediterranean food injection - this is probably the next best thing. The quirky dining room manages to successfully blend a chic look which still remains rustic. Italian-born chef Davide di Croce gives traditional Italian favourites his own unique twist using top quality ingredients. Restaurant with a view? Yes please! Babylon at the Roof Gardens enduring popularity might have something to do with its spectacular acre and a half rooftop gardens, a peaceful haven in this manic metropolis. Boasting a classic British menu, and using the best in seasonal produce (so on-trend), this has a menu to impress even the most serious foodie. Check out their apricot and Cointreau souffle - simply sensational!
Now for something completely different..
Ok, so we might be mixing our Monty Python up with reality TV shows, but sometimes the whirl of pubs, clubs and shopping can be a bit too much. Why not go and see how the real bona-fide aristocrats lived, and we are talking real royalty now. Kensington Palace was first adapted for royal residence in 1689 by none other than Sir Christopher Wren (of St Paul's Cathedral fame). Queen Anne, George I and George II have lived there and more recently Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales (still the ultimate Sloane Ranger). We are currently offering a trip there and fantastic champagne afternoon tea at the 5* Montcalm Hotel. There isn't much that can't be fixed by a massage, pedicure, manicure or any number of pamper treatments. We have a great deal at the Nicky Salon, in Kensington, for an head, neck and foot massage. Ideal if you have been pounding the pavements or craning your neck to check-out all the celebrities swanning about the area.
You're going to need a place to stay....
Starting with an amazing five-star, The Kensington Hotel, a member of the Doyle Collection, is a luxury South Kensington hotel inside a regency-style townhouse. It has enough designer furniture and exquisite elegance to keep even the most exacting holidaymaker happy. It also offers an indulgent dinner restaurant (with echo's of a gentlemans's club) and cocktail bar - this place is so fabulous you need not venture out!
Another stylish 5* hotel that has the wow-factor is The Ampersand. On the inside it is as contemporary as they come, but it is lovingly wrapped up in a 1888 facade. The decor has a wonderful, whimsical twist which adds in a touch of humour. This luxury boutique hotel also has a fantastic bar and restaurant, so you can start the evening in style before heading out to sample the delights of the King's road.
The fabulous four-star NH Harrington Hall is slap bang in the heart of this Royal Borough and only a couple of minutes walk from Gloucester Road Underground Station (just in case you have left the Porsche at home and elected to travel by public transport). Rather than following the crowd, why not take the lead? Be one of the first to stay at London's newest boutique hotel, Hotel Xenia. This lovely four-star hotel opens from May 9, ans is close to everything this wonderful area has to offer, from museums to the upmarket shopping in Knightsbridge.
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