Kensington Palace Gardens
Kensington Gardens has loomed large in my imagination ever since, and when I went to London on a recent trip with my family I urged them to stop by.Now you should know that Kensington Gardens are huge. Running seamlessly into Hyde Park they combine in a total 625 acres. There is so much to see, and we barely scratched the surface. We arrived in the late afternoon of a gorgeous May day. Wandering down a wide asphalt path, we came close to a hub of activity where joggers and families out for a stroll swirled around a collection of fountains and water flowers.
I finally had the chance to try this amazing address this winter thanks to my friend Margaux and definitely recommend you to book a table asap. As Margaux is a regular (wink wink), she would highly recommend you to go there before 12:00 in order to get the breakfast menu. We went there after 12:00 and had the lunch menu which we had nothing to complain about :) We went for some healthy options and shared a little savoury treat, parmesan and truffle chips! I would like to draw your attention to the beautiful colours layered in our plates and on our table :)
The New Linden
When we arrived at The New Linden Hotel our room was ready, and we were greeted by name. I instantly fell in love with the Asian influenced decor, as I am obsessed with all things Eastern. (ie. I am an Asia geek.) We were given the key to our ground floor room, and were asked to leave it at the desk anytime we left the hotel. I have noticed this is quite common in London, and has something to do with fire regulations- it was definitely a little bit strange the first time I was told I couldn’t keep my room key. The hotel is small, however, and the desk in manned 24 hours a day so it was never a problem. Our room was gorgeous, with elegant fabrics and beautiful furniture. (How awesome is the bed?) If you compare it to an American hotel you would be very disappointed, the room was cozy (small!) but this is typical London. I loved the faux fur throw and pillows, generally not my style, but perfect for afternoon naps and cuddles. The bathroom was roomy and modern. I appreciated the his and hers sinks, and am happy to report that the shower is to die for. There was also a caddy with the usual instant coffee, tea, creamers, and sugar- as well as a water boiler for all your hot drink needs. Overall, we had a wonderful time at The New Linden Hotel. I love boutique hotels because they usually take really great care for their customers, and don’t overlook the simple touches that can make a stay extra special. I would recommend The New Linden Hotel for anyone looking for a mid-range boutique property for themselves or as a couple, I probably wouldn’t recommend it for families with small children. They did drop the ball on breakfast, but if you are unhappy with toast and yogurt there are plenty of great options in the area to choose from. We saw probably five pubs between the closest Underground station and the hotel that offered up Full English Breakfast.
Astor Hyde Park Hostel
The first day when I arrived at Astor Hyde Park Hostel I was in a huge hurry to check-in and get going to my first event. I was happy that the hostel was only a 10 minute walk from Gloucester Road tube station. The staff were friendly from the get-go and super helpful with any question I had. (I had many.) Hyde Park hostel is in an absolutely gorgeous Victorian townhouse, and still maintains many of the original features. Right away it didn’t feel like a normal hostel, and I am still really impressed that such affordable accommodation is possible in this area of London. The next morning I was able to start exploring the hostel further, beginning with breakfast in the basement. The breakfast/lounge room is a really fun space. There is a foosball table, comfy seating, and amazing London themed murals and art pieces on the walls. It has a bright energy, regardless of the time of day, and always seemed to be buzzing with conversation and friendly faces. I worked at the tables in the room on several occasions, and though I had a few issues connecting to the wifi, it is free and worked fine the majority of the time. The rooms themselves were clean, with en-suite bathrooms. The beds were comfortable and linen is provided. Basic, but very nice. There are also lockers beneath the bunks, and you can get a padlock from the front desk free of charge. Towels are available for hire (I needed one!) and only cost £2 plus a £3 deposit which you get back on check-out. The floors underneath the bunks were a little dusty, so be sure not to put your clothing directly in the locker if you don’t like grey. The shower and toilet rooms were en-suite, but separate, which is really awesome when you have six people in your room! No complaints. There are also washers and dryers available for use, and soap is available at the front desk for a small charge. They seemed to work just fine, and my clothes definitely smelled much better after!
Day 2 - A morning walk took me through a still-waking-up Portobello Market and Notting Hill’s quaint painted homes. At least in this area, both the market and the houses looked extremely staged for the tourists and I came away unimpressed (or I was walking in the wrong place!). Thank goodness I am not a Hugh Grant fan :)
We saw the Italian Gardens, a soothing water feature full of life and beauty. Supposedly it was created as a present from Prince Albert to his beloved Queen Victoria. Those two had one of the sweetest romances in the history of British royalty. We'll see Victoria's own tribute to her sweetheart in a minute.