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April 2021 / Area Guides / by Liz Skone James

Kensington & Holland Park

Historic homes, high-end independent shops and highly acclaimed independent schools combine to make leafy Kensington and Holland Park in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea one of the Capital’s most exclusive neighbourhoods.

Photography by Emmanuelle Peri

Meet the locals: Bradley Evans, Music Producer and Dog Trainer

My life is equally dedicated to two seemingly disparate worlds: those of music production and dog training. I’m also an absolute foodie; and being a resident of Kensington means I’m fortunate to have a plethora of venues on the doorstep, at which to slake the thirst of both my indoor and outdoor pursuits.

I spend most days exercising my dog Rocky, or meeting canine clients in either Holland Park or Kensington Gardens. Both of these parks are an absolute joy to walk and train in, not to mention being great for kids: Holland Park, with its peacocks and the adventure playground (which health and safety regulations tamed and sanitised many moons ago, but was historically the location of much fun during my ’70s childhood, not to mention the source of most of my cuts and bruises), and Kensington Gardens, with its ornamental lake and the Diana Memorial playground.

Bradley Evans - west london dog trainer

There’s nothing quite like a post walk pint at the very dog friendly The Mitre pub, which also serves a fantastic Sunday roast. As I mentioned, the foodie in me has much to be grateful to the Royal Borough for, and my partner and I often eat at our local pubs. The Windsor Castle on Campden Hill Road being where we headed with some haste for a first cold pint in their lovely garden after the first lockdown ended. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the crispy belly of pork is also fantastic there! Another firm favourite is The Churchill Arms on Kensington Church Street, which is a charming little pub that also just happens to serve some of the best Thai grub in London.

Now I’m not saying that my world is actually ruled by my stomach (ahem), but one of my favourite local places to shop is the wonderful Supermarket of Dreams on Holland Park Avenue; a source of Comfort & Joy (quite literally), fresh fish, amazing meat and a multitude of sweet treats. And the famous Lidgates on the same road, a purveyor of fine meat, is my butcher of choice.

A weekend stroll down Portobello Road is still great fun and my daughter absolutely loves a bit of vintage clothes shopping, although I smile to myself at the realisation that at 50 years old I now feel a little more ‘vintage’ than most of the items on offer. For more modern fare you really can’t do much better than Kensington High Street.

If it’s night life you’re after, Kensington High Street has a wonderful piano bar, or for a more energetic night out, you could do a lot worse than join me for a post lockdown boogie at Notting Hill Arts Club, where my love of good music is often sated at one of their regular nights, a favourite being Restless Funk. Roll on June…

(07881 958303; westlondon-dogtrainer.co.uk; @K9KingofLondon)

Take 3: Street hearts

Holland Park Mews
Slip through the ornate archway and step into another world; of London’s many mews, this pretty cobbled no through road has to be one of our favourites

Royal Crescent
The striking stucco fronted houses here are Grade II* listed. Two grand curving terraces face onto a landscaped communal garden with expansive, green, tree-studded lawns

Kensington Church Walk
Lined with colourful hanging baskets and bustling with interesting boutiques, this pedestrianised byway is the perfect spot for a quiet wander

Recommended: Local heroes

Dads House, SW6
Benham & Reeves’ Brett Boyd singles out a remarkable group who have really made a difference during lockdown – the team at Dads House, which was set up in 2008 to help single dads with the practicalities of raising their children alone. “The staff and volunteers have been amazing in the way they’ve promptly added a food bank to their services,” he tells us. “Showing true community spirit, the West Brompton based team ensure that no-one who seeks help goes away empty-handed and they readily arrange deliveries to those who are vulnerable or shielding.” 22 Lillie Rd, SW6 (07765 183504; dadshouse.org.uk)

W8 Café, W8
The whole team at Bective recommend W8 Café for its “great bacon sandwiches as well as healthier options at reasonable prices for Kensington.” Tucked away just off Kensington High Street, you’d be forgiven for missing this unassuming but award-winning establishment – for those in the know, it is a neighbourhood staple. The café is just one part of the business, however, and W8 Catering will deliver delectable food for everything from private gatherings up to large corporate events. Expect a comprehensive menu of baguettes, sandwich platters, canapés, finger food and ready-made meals. 3 Abingdon Rd,W8 (020 7376 2191; w8catering.co.uk)

Sally Clarke, W8

For Chestertons’ Daniel Taylor, this bakery/deli is a local gem, not just for its excellent food offering, but its responsible practices, too. “The deli showcases sustainability at its core,” he says. “They tackle food waste from the outset, by taking fish or meat trimmings that may be unsuitable for their menus, or any excess vegetables, salads and herbs, and turning them into delicious staff meals. The team also donate unsold breads and pastries to charities such as The Felix Project and Dads House, both of which collect and distribute the excess food to those in need.” 121 Kensington Church Street, W8 (020 7229 2190; sallyclarke.com)