Local Knowledge: Kit Kemp's guide to London

Hyde Park, London

Hyde Park, London

Interior designer Kit Kemp takes us through her favourite spots to visit in London.

My daily ritual is walking from my home in Kensington across Hyde Park to work, and popping into Serpentine Gallery along the way.

The thing I love most about London is its little streets and all its diverse architecture. The Borough Market is among my favourite spots, filled with treasures such as places that serve pots of raclette and fresh oyster bars.

We're long-time fans of The River Café. It's magical in both summer and winter. My favourite dishes are the smoked Dover sole, mushroom risotto and the chocolate nemesis cake. Many of the world's best chefs have worked in the kitchen; you feel like you discovered them first.

The best places to find cutting-edge design ideas are Contemporary Applied Arts on Southwark Street, which features the work of more than 350 artisans. The New Craftsmen in Mayfair is fabulous for inspiration and unique design. And I always try to go to the Royal Academy Schools' summer show and meet the students. You can't get more cutting-edge than meeting the artists of the future.

The place I always find inspiration is the V&A. There's always an exhibition by an artist in residence, and its lectures are marvellous.

I like to take a chai tea latte at Fernandez and Wells on Exhibition Road, around the corner from my office, to add spice to my morning.

When I need a day away from the city we head to the New Forest, particularly the village of Buckler's Hard, where Henry Adams designed Lord Nelson's favourite ship, HMS Agamemnon. I was brought up near there. The area has the best of both worlds: forests and the sea.

I take out-of-town friends to Prawn on the Lawn, an amazing seafood restaurant in Islington, serving sustainably sourced fish. After lunch I take them to the Barbican Centre for an exhibition or to a play at the Southwark Playhouse.

For solitude, nothing beats eating on the fourth-floor terrace of our Ham Yard Hotel in Soho. I go up there with an Alexander McCall Smith book to escape.

Kit Kemp is co-owner and design director of Firmdale Hotels, with a portfolio of nine hotels, bars and restaurants in London and New York. The Whitby is scheduled to open in Manhattan's Midtown later this year.


Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
Recipe collections

Looking for fresh dinner ideas? Not sure how to make the most out of seasonal produce? Or do you need to plan the perfect party menu? Our recipe collections have you covered.

See more

You might also like...

Sri Lanka

On a thrilling circuit of white-sand beaches, ancient cities...

Walk on the wild side

There’s a safari to suit all species, from style hunters to ...

Indie at heart

The freewheeling character of Canada’s largest city is expre...

Swiss credit

Hang the expense. Richard Cooke finds Switzerland’s financia...

Merida, manana

Hot, sleepy and sensuous, the capital of Mexico’s Yucatan st...

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Within medieval city walls, George Epaminondas raises a glas...

Havana travel guide

The nation said to be perpetually on the brink of change is,...

Insider's guide to Dublin

Pippa Holt arrived in the Irish capital via Melbourne and Lo...

Geneva travel guide

Historic lakeside Geneva is a city made for walking, in summ...

Istanbul travel guide

Europe’s gateway embraces contemporary cool and Turkish trad...

Copenhagen's best restaurants and bars

After putting Scandinavia’s food firmly on the global agenda...

Cartagena de Indias, Colombia travel guide

With a vibrant cultural scene, buzzy bars, smart dining and ...

Maldives travel guide

The pristine reefs of the Maldives teem with showy, shimmeri...

Singapore travel guide

Not an island to rest on its laurels, ever-evolving Singapor...

Rio de Janeiro travel guide

Armed with a Caipirinha and a sense of adventure, Tatyana Le...

get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.