Photo Courtesy of Alex Zouaghi
The West & Southwest London Guide
History is everywhere in West London. Restaurants, shops, and bars may come and go, but the deeply British character of Notting Hill, Chelsea, and Kensington manages to feel unchanged even in a city that’s constantly evolving. Take a Saturday morning walk through Portobello Market, go antique hunting along Golbourne and Pimlico roads, stop for a pint at the Churchill Arms, or lay down a blanket for a picnic in any of the cool, leafy parks that seem to be on every other block. If you can squint away all the iPhones, you almost can’t tell what time period you’re in. Still, behind the historical facades are some of our favorite cutting-edge wellness outposts, like naturopath Dr. Nigma Talib and the holistic fitness studio Bodyism, both in Notting Hill. And we’re thrilled to join them, with our first-ever London pop-up! It coincides with our ten-year anniversary—we wanted to come back to where it all started. If you’re strolling around one of London’s loveliest neighborhoods, drop in and say hi. We’ll be here until January. For the rest of our London neighborhood guides, click here.
Chelsea Physic Garden66 Royal Hospital Rd., Chelsea | +44.20.7352.5646
Beyond being a beautiful place to pass an afternoon, this is also London's oldest botanical garden (it dates back to 1673). Don't miss the newest addition, the Garden of Edible and Useful Plants, where you'll find foliage with a variety of uses, from perfume to cosmetics. P.S. Closed Saturdays.
Clifton Nurseries5A Clifton Villas, Maida Vale | +44.20.7289.6851
This historical garden center—in existence since the nineteenth-century—is where Londoners go to start their urban oases. The variety is as endless as the knowledge of its kind staff. If you're feeling hands-off, there's a design and installation service here to suit your needs both large and small.
Royal Albert HallKensington Gore, Kensington
Since its opening by Queen Victoria in 1871, Royal Albert Hall has been home to innumerable concerts and performances. In fact, it hosts about 350 events per year, including classical concerts (it has been home to the annual summer Proms since 1941), rock and pop, ballet, opera, awards ceremonies, and more. Every act from Led Zeppelin to Les Misérables, Cirque du Soleil, and Adele has graced the magnificent building, which remains one of London's most distinct and treasured landmarks.
Saatchi GalleryDuke of York's HQ, King's Rd., Chelsea | +44.20.7811.3070
Charles Saatchi's gallery is famous for championing artists before the rest of the art world catches on. Legendary for his early support of Damien Hirst and the rest of the YBAs (that's Young British Artists, for the uninitiated), Saatchi's roster is still one of the most forward-thinking in contemporary art. The excellent on-site Gallery Mess Cafe and its daily afternoon tea service (there's a boozy version that involves a jug of Pimm's and an option for kids, too) deserve mention.
Serpentine GalleriesKensington Gardens, Kensington | +44.20.7402.6075
The Serpentine Galleries are a must-see for contemporary art lovers. Located in a former teahouse, the original Serpentine Gallery continues to champion cutting-edge modern art, and if you walk across Serpentine Lake, the collection extends to the new Sackler Gallery, which was designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Zaha Hadid. Take the time to explore the grounds, including the Gallery’s Pavilion, which provides a site for architectural experimentation with temporary structures that is always worth checking out.
Science MuseumExhibition Rd., Kensington | +44.87.0870.4868
Here, both adults and kiddos can explore virtually every scientific topic of the modern world, including space, agriculture, energy, time, medicine, psychology, and even identity. There's a 3D Imax theater, an Apollo 4-D Cinema, galleries, hands-on displays, flight simulators, and much more. While it's easy to pretend it's just for the kids, you'll be shocked by how much you'll learn yourself.
Tate BritainWestminster | +44.20.7887.8888
After the 2013 restoration of the grand Victorian building and the chronological rehanging of the permanent collection, it's all the more paramount you make the trip to this classic art institution. You'll find all the British masters here.
Victoria & Albert MuseumCromwell Rd., Knightsbridge | +44.207.942.2000
The considerable permanent collection at the V&A has been scrupulously curated over the course of almost 200 years—and spans thousands—to fit the museum's design and fashion slant. The visiting exhibit program is just as exciting (like the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibit). With its Victorian flourishes, the actual space that contains the 140-plus galleries is one giant piece of art in and of itself.