What To See At Kensington Palace


With a long history dating back to the 17th century, Kensington Palace has become one of the best examples of a still functioning and ever-growing royal household. The manor house was originally bought by King William III and Queen Mary II in 1689, but grew into a much larger household over the centuries, one that played host to the childhood Queen Victoria, the newly wedded Princess Diana and the current Prince and Princess Wales, WIlliam and Kate. Despite the fact that other royals still live there to this day, guests of spa breaks in London can still enjoy tours of the palace and its grounds.

Though thought of as a secondary household to Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace still plays a major role in the business of the Royal Family and hosts regular exhibitions exploring the past of the family. A quick walk or tube journey from the Montcalm London Marble Arch, the royal history of Kensington Palace is still open to tours and visits from the general public.

Who Lives At Kensington Palace? 

Before visiting Kensington Palace it’s worth noting that parts of the complex are not open to the public because members of the royal household actually still live there. Of note, William and Kate still count it as their official residence, as does Princess Eugenie and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

Architecture of Kensington Palace 

The most recent renovations of Kensington Palace took place during the early 2010s, when William and Kate moved into the four storey, 20-roomed Apartment 1A, which was renovated for a staggering £4 million. Before that though, the palace underwent many expansions, first under famous architect Christopher Wren for Queen Mary II, and later in the 18th century the gardens were expanded for Queen Anne to designs by Nicholas Hawksmoor. Throughout the same century, Kings George I and George II spent huge sums of money to create the Kings State Apartments. The result of these expansions is a far cry from the manor house’s Jacobean roots, and has European, Regency era and Victorian influences. 

What Is Available To The Public At Kensington Palace? 

So whilst many of the apartments and buildings within the 484,000 square foot palace are private, there are key areas that are open to the public. These public areas are open to members of the public between Wednesdays and Sundays from 10 till 6 pm. 

Tour The King’s State Apartments 

The King’s State Apartments were built by King George I and George II, under the direction of the at the time unknown William Kent. These beautiful rooms were designed as meeting rooms with foreign ambassadors and dignitaries. In short, they were built to impress. The State Rooms include the King’s Staircase, the Privy Chamber, the Cupola Room and the Presence Chamber. All of these are flooded with beautiful chandeliers, intricate furniture finishes and designs and testament to the unique and lavish styles of the monarchs who ordered their creations. 

The Queen’s State Apartments

The Queen’s State Apartments were designed by Queen Anne and are as lavish as you’d expect from a new queen. The beautifully rich fabrics, elegant furniture and striking chandeliers all reflect the grand tastes of the tragic queen and last of the Stuarts. 

The Drawing Room 

Guests of the Montcalm Hotel may think the Crescent Restaurant and Lounge is stylish enough for a queen, but the Blue Drawing Room at Kensington Palace is a whole new level of opulence. Built during the Georgian era, it was most notable as an important setting during many of Queen Victoria’s life events. As well as living in the palace itself, Queen Victoria met her first Ascension Council in the room when she was preparing for her coronation. 

The King’s Gallery 

The King’s Gallery was William III’s private and public function room, but was also used to house his and the monarch’s collections of art, many of which were commissioned by the kings and queens themselves. From mythology to historical events, the tapestry of culture weaved along these ornate walls are a true time capsule to the periods in which they were painted. 

Kensington Palace Gardens 

If it’s some fresh air you’re after, then visitors to Kensington palace are in luck. Whilst Kensington Gardens – once a part of Hyde Park – have been open to the public since the 19th century, Kensington Palace Gardens (not to be confused with the Royal Park Kensington Gardens) are a beautiful mixture of lawns, formal gardens and wildflowers. Guests of 5 Star Hotels in London’s West End can enjoy these beautiful landmarks. 

Sunken Garden 

Developed in 1908 and inspired by the gardens of Hampton Court Palace, the Sunken Garden is an Edwardian dreamscape, featuring plants, terraces and fountains. The ornamental flower beds and ponds change character with the seasons and thanks to replanting in 2017, new colours have emerged in the flowers. Now white, the flower gardens reflect the life of Princess Diana.