Spring has arrived in London. Yesterday was the first warm day we’ve had all year, and the whole world was outside enjoying the sunshine. I was no exception, and spent most of my day in South Kensington. I have always loved South Kensington’s restaurants, museums, and architecture, and I had a great time exploring the neighborhood.
South Kensington’s museums are the area’s biggest draw for visitors. The Natural History Museum, Science Museum, and Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) are three of London’s best museums, and I try to visit each of them as often as I can.
Yesterday I walked over to the V&A, a massive museum featuring everything from beautiful ball gowns to historical furnishings. I was there to see the new David Bowie is exhibition, which showcased a wide variety of the artist’s famous outlandish outfits, original song lyrics, paintings, and other memorabilia.
The museum offered me a ticket, and I spent the afternoon in the main exhibition halls learning about Bowie’s art and career. A headset guided the tour, picking up sound at various points in the rooms. It was a new take on the audioguide concept, and I liked it save for a few times when the sound cut in and out. Overall I really enjoyed the exhibition, and was glad to give up some time in the sun to see it.
Back outside, I basked under blue skies as I walked down to Walton Street, one of South Kensington’s biggest draws for locals. The road is a favorite for restaurants, shopping, bars, and nightlife, and is lined with everything from clothing boutiques to cocktail bars. The latter includes Eclipse, where I went last week for their signature watermelon martinis.
Nearby streets are busy with Chanel stores, ladies who lunch, and popular South Kensington restaurants like Cassis, a French bistro on the border of Knightsbridge where I once had a great brunch with friends. There is even a fancy version of popular fast-food sushi outlet Itsu, in which the sushi revolves around the bar on a conveyor belt.
For a more casual experience, South Kensington also has its share of good pubs. I recently spent an evening at the Anglesea Arms pub, which had great atmosphere. I have also gone to dinner at the Admiral Codrington a couple of times, and have always had an enjoyable meal.
But the most famous part of South Kensington’s restaurant scene conveniently revolves around the tube station.
The wide pedestrian zone between the station and the aforementioned museums is packed with perennial favorites like Casa Brindisa, which serves Spanish tapas, Le Comptoir Libanais, a colorful Lebanese restaurant, Le Pain Quotidien, which is a favorite for breakfast and lunch, and the new Fernandez & Wells, a cafe and wine bar that I find myself in all too often.
Around the corner are places like Snog, which serves frozen yogurt, Gail’s, a great bakery with mouth-watering window displays, Bubbleology, a new place serving bubble tea in South Kensington, and La Cave a Fromage, a great cheese shop.
Back at the museums, I headed north up Exhibition Road, passing by Imperial College, which currently has an exhibition about the past, present, and future of science that includes live demos and a 3D printer. Further north was Royal Albert Hall, where I went to the proms a couple of summers ago.
Across the road from there was Hyde Park, where I concluded my warm spring walk through South Kensington’s museums and restaurants with a walk. I’m glad I did, too, because today the rain is threatening again. So much for spring in London!