London will be awash in visitors the week of May 6, the date of the first coronation of a new monarch in 70 years. But once King Charles III has been crowned, anointed and finished waving to well-wishers, consider burrowing into the city’s Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The smallest of Greater London’s 32 districts brims with pleasures fit for kings and commoners alike.
The labyrinthine V&A South Kensington, as the original Victoria & Albert Museum is now called, hosts an overwhelming number of exhibitions, displays and collections of art, fashion and design from around the world. Pick one or two temporary shows to peruse, such as this season’s Beatrix Potter drawings and British art pottery or Donatello’s sculptures and Korean pop artifacts, and then let serendipity do the rest while heading to the gorgeously tiled museum café (the world’s first) and its courtyard with pool.
If season five of The Crown is more your style, tour Kensington Palace, where the late Princess Diana lived with and without the former Prince of Wales, and its new exhibition “Crown to Couture” features yasss-queen garments from the Georgian era to Lady Gaga and Billy Porter. The renowned Chelsea Flower Show, May 23-27, will draw thousands to the Royal Hospital Chelsea, but the rest of the year, you’ll find a tranquil oasis at the Chelsea Physic Garden. Founded in 1673, it’s London’s oldest botanic garden.
Opened in late 2021, the Fuji Grill has found a following for its exquisite sushi, Kobe beef and beautifully styled produce. Inside Beaverbrook Town House, the former Sloane Street residence of Winston Churchill’s aviation minister, the restaurant offers playful tributes to its history by serving cappuccinos with a Spitfire outline in the foam and a Churchillian dessert of a chocolate cigar with whiskey ice cream.
Portugal’s famous egg custards, pastéis de nata, now proliferate in London, in part due to the popularity of Café de Nata, which now has two locations in the borough. The sleek cafés offer eight delectable varieties, including coconut, passionfruit and a new vegan version.
The décor is luxuriously theatrical — candy-colored plush settees, retro phones and framed West End memorabilia — in the 14 uniquely outfitted rooms of Beaverbrook Town House, reflecting the late Lord Beaverbrook’s passion for London’s stages. From $600; beaverbrooktownhouse.co.uk.
Overlooking a quaint mews in conveniently central Earl’s Court, the K+K Hotel George Kensington occupies a row of Victorian townhouses with compact, Euro-chic rooms, a surprisingly large private garden and lavish breakfast buffet. From $456; kkhotels.com.