About Kensington High Street
Kensington High Street is one of the most popular shopping streets in western London, and is part of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Alban Hall resides just off this street on the idyllic Kensington Square, the oldest of its kind in Kensington (founded in 1685).
As an upmarket shopping area, Kensington High Street is home to a substantial range of shops including the UK’s first organic superstore, Whole Foods Market. You can also find Kensington Roof Gardens along with its restaurant and famous flamingoes which, at 6000 square metres, is one of the largest roof gardens in Europe. And its worth keeping an eye out for music stars, old and new, as a large part of the British music industry is based here!
Alban Hall is a catered hall during weekdays (Mon – Fri) and also serves brunch on Saturday morning. For the rest of the time, each flat has a kitchen where you are free to cook your own meals.
The hall is in a convenient location to get to a number of supermarkets. They have a range of prices depending on what you’re looking for. On Kensington High Street, Marks and Spencer and Whole Foods Market are both a 3 minute walk away. These stores are typically more expensive than other options but offer a very high quality of food. Whole Foods in particular is worth a visit as it is the UK’s first organic superstore and stocks some ingredients you might struggle to find elsewhere (like make-your-own peanut butter!). Further down Kensington High Street (about a 10 minute walk), there is a Waitrose. This can also be a slightly expensive option, but if you shop carefully it is possible to grab some good deals.
For more affordable options, there is a large Sainsbury’s about 12 minutes walk on Cromwell Road. This is frequented by Imperial students from all halls in the Kensington area as it offers a huge range of food at reasonable prices. There’s a Sainsbury’s Local with a reduced range about 10 minutes in the other direction. Slightly further away, there is also a Tesco superstore if you require less common items.
It is also possible to do all of your food shopping online and have it delivered to the hall. If you choose this option, its a good idea to grab some friends to group your order with as there’s often a delivery charge.
Unsurprisingly, London provides plenty of opportunity to shop. Kensington High Street is the closest option and you’ll be able to find a lot of what you might need here. There are a large number of clothes shops such as H&M, Next, American Apparel, Zara and New Look; books can be found in the local Waterstones; and Urban Outfitters is there for general cool stuff. Interestingly, if you’re into running, cycling or adventure sports, there is a group of related shops at the west end of the street including Snow+Rock, Runner’s Need, Cycle Surgery and Ellis Brigham.
If you want to travel further to shop, Oxford Street can be reached easily by bus or tube (but is one of the busiest places in London, especially on weekends!). Westfield Shopping Centre is also not too far away in Shepherd’s Bush and is one of the largest shopping centres in the UK.
For something a bit different, there are loads of great street markets in London. One of the closest to Alban, and also one of the most famous, is Portobello Market near our sister hall Pembridge in Notting Hill. The market stalls are open every day of the week other than Sunday, offering mainly food through weekdays, unique bric-a-brac on Fridays and lots of antique items on Saturdays. This is a must-do at some stage during your stay in London, so definitely put it on your list!
Places to Eat
London has loads of places to grab a snack or for a full-blown meal. Here’s a small selection of local places but this is by no means an exhaustive list, so get exploring!
For a relatively inexpensive meal, check out Wagamama (Japanese food) very close to Alban, Prezzo (Italian) just down the road and a Nando’s (chicken) further down Kensington High Street. If you’d prefer fast food, there’s a McDonald’s across from the High Street Kensington tube station which offers special deals to Imperial students.
It is a fact of life that everyone loves a good pancake. My Old Dutch is nearby on Kensington Church Street and offers a huge selection of sweet and savoury options. Make sure to try their ‘poffertjes’ which are Dutch mini-pancakes! Kensington High Street is also home to the Babylon Restaurant on the Roof Gardens. Its a pretty unique place that’s worth trying out to celebrate a special occasion, but has a price tag to match!
Many of the big-name banks can be found on Kensington High Street including Barclays, Halifax, Lloyds, Nationwide, NatWest, HSBC, RBS and Santander.
The nearest pharmacy is Boots on Kensington High Street, about five minutes walk from Alban.
At the beginning of the year, you should remember to register at Imperial College Health Centre which is below Southside Halls on the South Kensington campus. Find out more here.
Sometimes a bit of greenery can provide a refreshing balance to city life. Luckily, we have two of the best parks in London on our doorstep.
Kensington Gardens is a large open park with a number of sights such as Kensington Palace and a Peter Pan statue. It connects to Hyde Park and is a popular place to go for a morning/evening jog. Holland Park is more wooded and hilly, and has its own sports facilities, peacocks and Japanese garden! Both are great places to go for a relaxing walk, read, or just chill out with friends, especially when the sun is out.
If you have more time on the weekend, Richmond Park is a bit further away, but also well worth a visit. It is larger than the other two and is unique in that it is home to herds of deer who roam freely in the park. If you fancy a walk or a cycle, there is a brilliant view of St Paul’s Cathedral from a viewpoint here!