High Street Kensington


There it is, my home-away-from-home for four nights in London.  I stayed at the Copthorne Tara, a supposedly four-star accommodation that felt more like a 2- or 3-star hotel.  There was nothing wrong with it, other than a slightly run-down feeling.  But, for around $100 (USD) a night, I wasn’t complaining.

The Copthorne’s best feature was its proximity to the High Street Kensington Station.  The tube tracks (which, at this spot, are below-ground level, but not buried) run right behind the hotel, and you can see the back of the hotel from the tube platforms. I imagine that, if you’re staying on the backside of the hotel, you may hear some train noise. However, I was staying on the front side of the hotel, and never heard a thing.

The Copthorne Tara Hotel is just a block away from Kensington High Street, down Wright’s Lane.  I got to walk through this nice neighborhood several times a day…

… while admiring these stately old buildings — exactly the kind of buildings I expected to see in London.

Kensington High Street is the “Main Street” of the Kensington borough of London.  There is a nice assortment of stores, ranging from a Marks and Spencer (roughly the equivalent of a JC Penney department store in the U.S.), to a Whole Foods, Boots (drug store) and Tesco (grocery store).  A few decades ago, there were three major department stores here: Barkers, Derry & Toms, and Pontings.  The Whole Foods store now occupies part of the historic Barkers building, which has a distinct art-deco style.

In the photo, you can also see the Kensington High Street Underground station, amongst the other stores.

It’s common in London for major department stores to have a grocery store (or “food hall”) in their basement.  You can check one out at the Marks and Spencer store on Kensington High Street.  I highly recommend picking up a few packages of Dark Chocolate Digestives to take home!

I took these pictures on my final morning in London, just after walking around Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens.  It had poured the rain during my walk (thus the puddles), but was already starting to clear up as I got back to the hotel.

Just east of the tube station, Kensington High Street goes around a slight curve, and changes its name to Kensington Road.  The streets do that a lot in London, making it confusing to know exactly where you’re going.  If you kept going on Kensington Road, it would soon turn into Knightsbridge, then Piccadilly, then Shaftesbury, and then a half-dozen other names.  If you’re going to drive here, you’d better bring along a GPS.

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