The Best Bars and Pubs in Kensington, London

by Lizzie Davey  |  Published September 12, 2016

Kensington is known for its luxurious buildings and its high-end clientele, all of which are on show in its eclectic selection of pubs and bars – grab a cocktail and join the elite.

The grand architecture of Kensington (Photo: Herry Lawford via Flickr)

The grand architecture of Kensington (Photo: Herry Lawford via Flickr)

1. Piano Kensington

Keen jazz enthusiasts will enjoy a jaunt to Piano Kensington, where they can kick back and relax whilst watching brass bands work their magic five nights a week. A regularly changing menu accompanies an eclectic range of musical talent, taking inspiration from a variety of cuisines to bring punters tasty snacks alongside sophisticated cocktails. The wine list is short but sumptuous, featuring tipple from Europe and the New World. Experience a laidback vibe of jazz and wine in this atmospheric hideout in Kensington.

106 Kensington High St, London W8 4SG

2. Dirty Bones

Bohemian crowds flock to the speak-easy interior of Dirty Bones, where the décor reeks of dive bar meets NYC hot dog bar in a clash of retro charm. At the centre of the action, a vintage pinball table takes the spotlight, while the low-lighting and banging tunes give this den a cosy, almost illicit vibe. Alongside an expansive menus of unique cocktails (the Mutt’s Nuts, anyone?), Dirty Bones serves up a selection of classic dishes with a trendy twist, including the burger dog, chicken wings dunked in spicy flour, and Mac ‘n’ Cheese made using creamy taleggio.

20 Kensington Church St, London W8 4EP

A flaming cocktail from Dirty Bones (Photo: via Dirty Bones)

A flaming cocktail from Dirty Bones (Photo: via Dirty Bones)

3. Bar 190 

Library-style chic comes to life in this concoction of dark wood and low-lighting. Set inside the Gore Hotel, Bar 190 does a sophisticated job of serving upmarket cocktails to Kensington’s affluent locals. The star of the show is the extensive drinks menu, promising original cocktails and a hefty wine menu spanning the globe (don’t forget the seemingly never-ending varieties of champagne, either!). At the bar, you can grab a collection of dishes from around the world, whether you’re in the mood for a traditional British sandwich, Spanish tapas, or a Mediterranean salad.

190 Queen’s Gate, London SW7 5EU

4. The Builder’s Arms

Kensington’s down-to-earth side its explicitly on display in The Builder’s Arms, a welcoming drinking hole with a pretty, flowered-lined exterior. Inside, the polished wooden floors and glamorous urban highlights provide the perfect backdrop for catching up with friends or enjoying a hearty, British meal. Kick back and relax in the comfortable lounge upstairs, try out the expansive range of real ales, and enjoy the summer sun in the cosy beer garden out back. When hunger strikes, choose from the menu of freshly cooked pub food for a treat that is quintessentially English.

1 Kensington Ct Pl, Kensington, London W8 5BJ

The grand exterior of the Churchill Arms (Photo: Jeremy Nelson via Flickr)

The grand exterior of the Churchill Arms (Photo: Jeremy Nelson via Flickr)

5. The Churchill Arms 

Fancy a dive into traditional pub life? The Churchill Arms might just be the watering hole for you. Its name, a celebration of war-time leader Winston Churchill, is a little misleading, because this cosy hangout is, in fact, and Irish pub (Ireland, if you didn’t know, remained neutral during World War II). Despite its historic inaccuracies, the homely tavern is jam-packed full of character served alongside a delicious Thai menu. Grab a pint and mingle amongst the portraits of prime ministers and presidents, and catch a glimpse of your reflection in the abundance of copper curiosities dotted around.

119 Kensington Church St, London W8 7LN

6. Bodo’s Schloss

Step out of Kensington’s high-class streets and into the rustic charm of Austrian ski slops in Bodo Schloss, an alpine cabin that proudly displays an artful amount of gingham, lederhosen, and cow hide. Miles from the high-heels and high-powered suits of Kensington, it offers a relaxed atmosphere, where diners can tuck into traditional Austrian cuisine – we’re talking schnitzel and sauerkraut – while downing huge pints of beer on the dance floor. Not to be missed if you’re looking for something a bit different amongst the glitz and glam of Kensington life.

2A Kensington High St, London W8 4PT

The Goat on Kensington High Street (Photo: Ewan Munro via Flickr)

The Goat on Kensington High Street (Photo: Ewan Munro via Flickr)

7. Goat

The oldest pub in Kensington is well worth a pint in. Dating back to 1679, this characterful local is packed full of history, with over 300 years of heritage oozing through the woodwork. With a view of Kensington Palace and surrounding grounds, it is based just ten minutes from the Royal Albert Hall, making it a popular pitstop for theatre goers. Grab one of the many ales on tap and tuck into a selection of traditional British dishes to keep you going throughout the day.

3A Kensington High St, London W8 5NP

8. K Bar

Though it’s set in the confines of the elegant Town House Kensington Hotel, the K Bar is about as far from a hotel bar as you can get. Oak-panelled walls and plenty of marble set the scene for revellers get ready for the night ahead. Amongst an air of opulence, they tuck into cocktails handpicked from a lengthy menu while reclining on plush, bouncy sofas that line the walls. It gets busy, so be prepared to perch at the bar – but the well-priced, expertly finished cocktails are well worth the trouble.

113 Queen’s Gate, London SW7

9. Blag Club

Indulge in a taste of the East in this Hindu-inspired lounge bar. Oozing cosy charm in the form of Hindu décor – the large beds in the corner are watched over by a chilled out Ganesh who’s kicking back under a cherry tree – you can work your way through the eclectic menu of cocktails made especially for the VIP people who pound the streets of Kensington. Either mingle with the locals, or book your very own VIP booth for a stylish night to remember.

11 Russell Gardens, London W14 8EZ

The retro vibe of Barts (Photo: via Barts)

The retro vibe of Barts (Photo: via Barts)

10. Barts

Sumptuous style rejoices in this laidback drinking hole in the heart of Kensington. Set inside the façade of a traditional hotel, its private entrance is concealed in a speakeasy fashion – ring the bell and wait for Big Frank to let you in! Once admitted, you’ll find yourself in a cocoon of opulence, where kooky decorations are the name of the game, and rich colours serve up an elegant backdrop. The night gets going with prohibition music and a popular fancy dress box, while cocktail lovers splash out on original recipes and smokers huddle together in the outdoor cigar haven.

Chelsea Cloisters, 87 Sloane Ave, London SW3 3DW

11. Pavillion

Opened back in 2011 under the name Dryland, Pavillion has come a long way since its early days. It now serves business members on the sought-after Kensington High Street. As well as promising a selection of cocktails and worldly wines against a setting of high ceilings and minimalist charm, it offers a luxury workspace for business moguls to conduct meetings in and run through their latest plans. If you want to see Kensington’s working world at its best, grab a drink in this stylish hotspot.

96 Kensington High St, London W8 4SG