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June 2022 / Area Guides / by Liz Skone James

Kensington & Holland Park 2022

The borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s ‘Royal’ status speaks volumes about what’s on offer in this exclusive enclave – grand historical architecture, world class shopping, Michelin-starred dining, gorgeous garden squares and Holland Park’s manicured expanses (complete with opera house, no less), for starters. 

Photography by Emmanuelle Peri & Kathy Anne Lim

Carolyn Peyman | Cocktails at Amaro

Meet the locals 

Carolyn Peyman
F
ounder, The Birch House

I’m an early riser and can often be found at Kensington Leisure Centre doing a 7am HIIT class; occasionally I’ll squeeze in a short run, too, although my feet aren’t what they used to be when I ran the London Marathon back in 2018! I have many memories of torturous hill training in Holland Park. I’d pop a fiver in my sock so I could reward myself with a coffee at the café afterwards! 

It’s a beautiful park, spread across 54 acres and complete with formal gardens, wooded areas and a children’s playground. It’s even home to Holland Park Opera – one of these days I hope to make it to one of the amazing performances they put on in the park every summer.

Most mornings I’m in my studio by 8am. If I’m not working there, I’ll be out fitting curtains, doing measure ups and meeting clients, most of whom are in the immediate vicinity. I feel very lucky to live in such a great area and to get to see inside some truly fantastic homes.

I started my business in 2015 after a lifetime of sewing – a skill I was taught by my mum from an early age. I specialise in making handmade bespoke curtains, blinds and soft furnishings, and guide clients through the process from start to finish, including supplying curtain poles and tracks. I work on my own in a studio, with the radio and podcasts for company. I use a lot of fabric from The Cloth Shop, nearby on Portobello Road; it’s a great place for linens and sheer fabrics in particular. 

Many years ago, I worked in various restaurants on High Street Kensington, and I still enjoy shopping in the area. I recently picked up some amazing martini glasses at TK Maxx. Speaking of cocktails, there’s an amazing new bar called Amaro, which serves brilliant cocktails and food – definitely worth a visit. I’m also often to be found in Decathlon; I love being outdoors, and I particularly enjoy cycling. Often at the weekend I’ll do a few rounds of Hyde Park; we’re so lucky to have so many green spaces, and yet still enjoy such a central location. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. 

Instagram: @the.birchhouse

Royal Crescent | Kensington Church Walk | Holland Park Mews

Take 3

Streethearts
Kensington and Holland Park

Royal Crescent
Inspired by its Georgian namesake in Bath, the two curved terraces of stucco fronted houses here, overlooking manicured communal gardens, are unsurprisingly Grade II listed 

Kensington Church Walk
Set alongside St. Mary Abbots Gardens, behind the church of the same name, bustling boutiques line this pedestrianised byway, their wares spilling out onto the pavement

Holland Park Mews
Slip through a stately stucco archway and you’ll find this quaint mews – the cobbled street is lined with wisteria clad houses, each with ornate ironwork balustraded staircases

Lift | The Churchill Arms | Los Mochis

Fabric favourites

Local Heroes
Kensington and Holland Park

Lift, W8 With its cool, jet-black exterior, you can’t miss this contemporary coffee hub on Kensington Church Street. Inside you’ll find equally cool industrial chic décor and, according to James Pace from Knight Frank, “simply the best coffee”. Lift opened in 2019 and, pandemic excepting, has gone from strength to double-shot strength, offering coffee loving locals a sanctuary-like spot in which to sit, sip and contemplate. “It’s a lovely team,” says James, “and I understand that they have helped other businesses with advice on where to source coffee, so really helpful, too.”

133 Kensington Church Street, W8 (liftcoffeelondon.com) 

The Churchill Arms, W8 If you like your pint with a slice of British eccentricity, this is the pub for you. Chris Cady from Dexters says: “The Churchill Arms has a unique exterior decorated with 100 flowerpots, 48 window boxes and 42 hanging baskets! When all the flowers are in bloom it’s truly a sight to see!” But you’d be wise to step inside, too, where you’ll find a wealth of Churchill memorabilia (the connection being that the 1750-built pub was frequented by the wartime prime minister’s grandparents). These days, it’s best loved for serving delicious Thai food and real ales.

119 Kensington Church Street, W8 (020 7727 4242; churchillarmskensington.co.uk) 

Los Mochis, W8 Chancellors’ Edward Parker tells us this local eatery is a “vibrant addition to the area. The food is great, and the colourful interior is fantastic”. The pan-Pacific restaurant fuses Mexican and Japanese cuisine, and boasts a creative décor to match. The plates too are as stylish as they are delectable, whether you plump for maki rolls or tacos. Of course, the signature cocktails are flowing here, including the Pink Hot Chilli Paloma. We’d go as far as to say that good times are guaranteed. 

2-4 Farmer Street, W8 (020 7243 6436; losmochis.co.uk)

Say what?

Spread across 54 acres, Holland Park boasts a glorious mix of woodland and formal gardens, including the breathtakingly beautiful Kyoto Garden. A gift from the Japanese city in 1991 to commemorate the longstanding friendship between the two countries, it was designed by renowned landscape architects, who placed a large pond at its centre, fed by a tiered waterfall. With shoals of koi carp swimming in its tranquil waters, the beautiful pond is surrounded by lush native plants and stone lanterns