Covering 1.5 acres and set 100 metres above London, Kensington Roof Gardens is one of the capital’s most remarkable landmarks.
You’ll find Kensington Roof Gardens at 99 Kensington High Street (W8 5SA) and from street level, there is little to suggest that there is anything special up on the seventh floor, with just the Virgin flags denoting the gardens’ presence.
However, with three spectacular gardens, it is the location of London’s only rooftop private members’ club and one of the most well-known clubs in the world, with themed events, live gigs and DJ nights.
For quite some time, Kensington Roof Gardens were the largest of their kind in Europe, however, they were outsized in 2012 with the opening of an 8.1-acre roof garden atop the Emporia shopping mall in Malmö, Sweden.
The current owner of Kensington Roof Gardens is none other than Sir Richard Branson (the Virgin flags should’ve been a clue), who purchased them in 1981 but not before he was turned away for dressing too scruffy.
The gardens celebrated their 75th year in 2013 with a calendar of events culminating with the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May 2014.
Things to see and do at Kensington Roof Gardens
Some events at the private members’ club are open to non-members, despite the name, but they operate a ‘no effort, no entry’ dress policy, so be sure to smarten up for the occasion.
Once inside the two-floor clubhouse and Babylon restaurant, you can expect to enjoy anything from BBQs and themed events to live gigs and a cutting edge line-up of events including top DJs and exclusive parties.
However, the chance to enjoy all this is slim; it only opens on Friday and Saturday night between 10pm and 2am.
Entrance is strictly over 21 years and all guests require valid photo ID regardless of age – a passport, driving licence or National ID card is fine.
What about the actual gardens though? Well, there are three gardens that follow very distinctive themes.
There’s a Spanish garden with fountains, vine-covered walkways and Chusan palms. There’s also a Tudor style garden, which features archways, secret corners and hanging wisteria while roses, lilies and lavender shapes the garden’s rich summer aroma.
Finally, an English woodland garden comprises more than 100 species of trees – some of which date back 60 years to the original planting – as well as a stream and a garden pond with pintail ducks and four flamingos, named Bill, Ben, Splosh and Pecks.
If you insist on driving to Kensington Roof Gardens, there are plenty of car parks within walking distance.
The closest is Indigo Kensington High Street Car Park on Hornton Street, while an NCP (Royal Garden Hotel) isn’t much further down the high street, just beside Kensington Palace Green.
Parking at the Royal Albert Hall is another possible option, as is the NCP Broadwood Terrace, but both require a 15-minute walk.
How to reach there
As with any central London location, taking the Tube is the arguably the wisest and most convenient option because High Street Kensington Tube Station on the Circle and District Lines is right next door to Kensington Roof Gardens.
If you would prefer to take the bus, the Roof Gardens are served by many bus routes too, namely the 9, 10, 27, 28, 49, 328, N9, N28 and N31.
For those staying at any four-star hotels in London, such as the Grand Royale London Hyde Park, it’s less than a mile’s walk through Hyde Park.