Reopened after a two-year, £12 million renovation, the palatial splendor of Kensington Palace and surrounds is available again for visitors to view. Offering tradition with a twist, the new-look palace, which encompasses new gardens, routes, shops, cafes and even interactive performances and multimedia displays in the State Apartments, is a royal sight to savour.
Since its conversion from stately mansion to a palace in the 17th century, Britain's monarchs have resided in Kensington Palace although more recent associations are made with Princess Diana, who had apartments here from 1981. Now her son, Prince William, lives here with Kate a.k.a. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. While the actual palace is closed to the public, the State Apartments, historic Orangery and grounds are accessible with adult tickets at £15 and children under 16 admitted for free.
Must-see sights at Kensington Palace include the King's Gallery, which was decorated for King George I in 1727 and houses the most exquisite art of the Royal Collection. The sumptuously composed King's Staircase is the grandest of entrances with life-size paintings of George I's court and leads to the six chambers and rooms that comprise the King's State Apartments. Queen Mary II had her own staircase to her State Apartments, which include the Queen's Eating Room, Drawing Rooms and bedroom. Outside, the Sunken Garden is a secluded and serene oasis in a Classical style with paved ornamental flowerbeds, a pond and fountains. For an elegant lunch or decadent afternoon tea, visit the 18th-century Orangery restaurant and sit outside for views of the palace and gardens.
Don't miss the temporary exhibition spaces offering an insight into the daily life and challenges of being a royal and meshing the old guard with the new. An interesting piece to view is the light installation in the centre of the palace titled 'Luminous Lace' made from electroluminescent wire and Swarovski crystals. To get to Kensington Palace, take the Underground to High Street Kensington station and walk for eight minutes down Kensington High Street onto Kensington Road and enter via the Broadwalk.