This enchanting home has been a residence for the British Royal Family since the 17th century and is now the home of Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge, among other royal figures. The building is one of London's most popular historic attractions, and is managed by the Historic Royal Palaces independent charity.
The original Jacobean house, known as Nottingham House, was purchased by William III in 1689, who decided to redesign and expand the mansion in subsequent years. Back then, this area was surrounded by picturesque countryside, and was regarded as an idyllic retreat from the hustle and bustle of London. Kensington Palace was also the birthplace of Queen Victoria in 1819, who was raised in the house, although she relocated to Buckingham Palace during her reign as Queen and never lived in Kensington again.
What to see
See the Queen's State Apartments, which have remained largely unaltered since they were built in the late 17th century. These apartments feature the magnificent Queen's Gallery, the Queen's Dining Room and the Queen's Bedroom, the last of which is believed to be the place of birth of King James II's son, James Francis Edward Stuart, in June 1688.
Wander around the King's Gallery, which is the largest State Apartment in the palace and was designed for King George I in the early 18th century. One of the most intriguing features here is a map on a wind dial, created during a time of intense military competition between European states, that depicts Great Britain as being equal in size to France. Today, the land area of the former is little more than a third of the latter.
No visit to Kensington Palace would be complete without witnessing the splendid landscaped gardens, which were modelled on the gardens of nearby Hampton Court Palace. The gardens feature impressive rotational flower displays, a special Cradle Walk, and, as Samuel Pepys would say, 'a great layer of water in the middle'.
Other attractions nearby
Explore London's most popular open space, Hyde Park, and wander around the Serpentine Lake before heading south to witness the spectacular Royal Albert Hall. The palace is also within walking distance of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum.
Where to stay and eat nearby
For some delicious Japanese cuisine close to hotels near Kensington Palace, head to the Wagamama restaurant on Kensington High Street, or enjoy some mouthwatering British classics at Ffiona's on Kensington Church Street. For fantastic Italian food, you can't go wrong at the Spaghetti House on Kensington High Street, and if you're after some excellent Greek and Mediterranean-themed food, choose Menoo Eclectic Foods on Kensington Church Street.
The five-star Royal Garden Hotel on Kensington High Street is one of the most luxurious hotels near Kensington Palace and is a fantastic base for exploring Kensington's vibrant bars. For a more budget friendly option, choose the elegant Caring Hotel on Craven Hill Gardens.
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