After soaking up my fair share of blue hues at Leighton House, I wondered down Kensington High Street to number 99. This building now houses a private member’s club, owned by Sir Richard Branson, but it was once a Great British department store called Derry and Toms. In 1938, the department store commissioned the build of a secret rooftop garden over 1.5 acres which is still sometimes accessible to the public (if you plan to go then make sure you call ahead to make sure the club hasn’t hired the gardens out to a private function). By the time I arrived, the sun was setting and the crowds had dispersed which made for a very romantic setting indeed!
Stepping out of the lift, I found myself under a series of archways: the focus of the Tudor Garden. The twisted stone pillars reminded me a little of Parc Guell in Barcelona albeit on a much smaller scale! Even in these winter months, the air was saturated with the fragrance of the surrounding fauna. From the Tudor Garden I looked across the illuminated flower beds to the Spanish Garden which was built in the image of the Alhambra in Granada and definitely emulates the same coral colour. I hopped down a series of pathways through tunnels and under archways to the English Woodland. It’s here that the famous flamingos live (Bill, Ben, Splosh and Pecks!) and also the area which gives the best panoramic view of the capital. Most of the windows are accessible only through a gate marked “Staff Only” which I thought was mean and thus ignored. My disgraceful disregard for the rules was rewarded with a glowing orange sunset.
If I lived anywhere near Kensington Roof Gardens then it would be a regular picnic spot for me, but maybe not with the recent frosts!
99 Kensington High Street, W8 5SA
+44 (0)207 368 3971