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Copyright© 2009 Kenneth Young

  • 202 KENSINGTON CHURCH STREET
  • MODERN SERVICE APARTMENTS
  • 202 KENSINGTON CHURCH STREET
  • LONDON W8 4DP
  • (rear entrance at 17-25 Rabbit Row)
  • +-44-20-7229-5371
  • FAX +-44-20-7727-7038
  • Revised 30 December 2008
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  • THE BUILDING AND SERVICES
  • Built during the 1960's, the building is “modern”, functional and bright with big windows. It is on a main street near a busy intersection in Notting Hill Gate; i.e. lots of activity, lots of things to do, easy access to all parts of London by bus, tube or foot. Kensington Church Street is well known for its up-market antique shops. . The office is flat #9 on the third floor (U.S. fourth floor). The flats to let are on the second, third and fourth floors. There is a lift. There is usually someone in the office nine to five-thirty during the week and on Saturday. The office is closed on Sunday. A maid is assigned to each floor and she services the flat during the week. Linens, towels and kitchenware are supplied. Heating is in the floor. There is a bathtub with a shower over.
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  • TRANSPORTATION
  • From Heathrow airport
  • Underground Train (The Tube). The Piccadilly line will take you to South Kensington, change to the Circle line to Notting Hill Gate. You have to contend with crowds and stairs so the wheels on suitcases are not of much help. Lifts, if they exist, are hard to find. There is now a high-speed train service from Heathrow to Paddington BR Station called the London-Heathrow Express. It takes 15 minutes and the trains run every 15 minutes. The fare is about seventeen pounds. Paddington is only two stops on The Tube District or Circle (green or yellow) lines from Notting Hill Gate or a short taxi ride. Consider the amount of luggage you have before deciding between tube and taxi. A taxi from Heathrow makes sense if there are more than 3 of you.
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  • From Gatwick Airport
  • There is a Gatwick-Express train to Victoria Station, then the tube to NHG (Circle Line-West via Paddington). Also from Gatwick you could take a Southern Region train to Shepherds Bush station (best to take a direct train rather than change at Clapham Junction) and then the central line tube to Notting Hill Gate. Most licensed taxicab drivers can be trusted. A taxi from Gatwick will run around sixty-five pounds but is probably negotiable. Be sure to settle the fare before getting into the cab or you will pay the meter rate. If the taxi driver doesn’t know Rabbit Row, tell him it is back of KCS, turn into Palace Gardens Terrace off the Bayswater Road and then first right onto West Mall.
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  • The Underground and buses
  • The NHG underground station is half a block west of the intersection with Kensington Church St. (hereinafter KCS) - about 50 yards. It is on the Central, District and Circle Lines (red, green and yellow on your underground map). Buses on NHGR take you to and from Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square via Oxford Street and if you are going to Kensington High Street or Knightsbridge (Harrods) or Buckingham Palace there is a bus (#52) on Palace Gardens Terrace. #70 takes you to South Kensington for the museums. Coming back, the buses stop directly across KCS from 202. Taxis frequently go past the building. If none comes in a few minutes, walk south to the corner or to the north side of NHGR.
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  • If you intend to use the tube and buses as your principal mode of travel, we suggest you purchase day passes ("off peak" or after 9:30 a.m.) or an Oyster Card which is like a credit card that you top up in advance and swipe when you enter and exit the tube. It also works on the buses. Zone One includes all the BritRail stations and central London, basically everything inside the Circle Line. Last trains are at 12:30 a.m. Buses run all night, with a reduced service. Ask for a “journey planner” at the ticket window. Also ask for a bus map which shows where, at busy intersections, the various buses stop. Single tickets to the underground must be used on the day purchased.. Read the signs posted as you enter the station or check with the BBC news before you leave with updates on what stations are closed, when the next strike is planned, and where the escalators aren’t working.
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  • BRITISH RAIL (BRITRAIL)
  • There are a dozen or so London BritRail stations. Most stations now have ticket dispensing machines. If you are planning several day trips out of town from several different stations, you can buy all your tickets at any station and charge them on VISA. There are discounts for advance tickets and people over 60. Return anytime except Friday. For long trips, reserve a seat. There are weekend savers on first class tickets on some routes. The railroads have been privatized and there are a dozen or so railway companies operating trains in the U.K. The distinctions need not concern you. At the station, the tote board lists trains in chronological order and platform. Look for the ultimate destination of your train and check it stops at the station you require. A word about the Eurostar. From St Pancras Station to Gare du Nord in Paris—two and a bit hours. There is also a direct train to Brussels, or just over to Calais or Lille for a pleasant dejeuner. Quick, easy and city centre to city centre – a very civilized way to travel. Bring a snack in case of strikes by catering staff.
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  • AUTOMOBILES
  • AUTOMOBILES There is a garage at the apartment house and if you rent a car you may be able to get a place to park – spaces available free on a first come first served basis. We strongly recommend to all those who are unfamiliar with right hand drive and left-hand shifting to get a car with an automatic transmission. You can pick up an international driver's license at any AAA office here in the U.S. before you go but it is not really necessary. Motorways are safer and easier to drive than city streets and country roads. Even more dangerous for Americans is crossing the streets on foot. Practice before you go looking right first, then left. Double check. Roundabouts are also difficult. Streets can be narrow, cobbled, or blocked with cows in the countryside. One way systems are maze like! A daily congestion charge of £8 must be paid to drive on the streets of Central London. Check with your car hire company how to pay this. Or, if coming in your own car, ask the hotel manager for the telephone number to pay by your credit card.
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  • TO MARKET, TO MARKET
  • There is a large supermarket on the north side of NHGR to the west (past W.H. Smith, the newsagent) called Tesco. There is a small market, Crispin's, even closer, just the other side of Waterstones Book Shop. It's open 24 hours, but more expensive as a result. The food halls at Marks and Spencer have superb prepared dishes and your apartment will have a microwave oven. The largest selection is at the flagship Marble Arch store on the north side of Oxford Street between Marble Arch and Bond Street tube stations. However, there is another store adjacent to the tube station at Kensington High Street (one stop away on the District or Circle lines). The tube station adjoins the store. There is a small M & S on Notting Hill Gate – about 300 yards walk past the underground station to the west. This is the nearest and sells a good range of ready meals, baked produce, salads and wines. Next to Sally Clarke's restaurant at 124 KCS is their bakery which opens at 8:00 (9:00 Saturdays). The breads are fresh and inventive. Also to be had are cheeses, shortbreads, oatmeal biscuits, and the finest chocolate truffles in all of London. They make up small gift boxes.
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  • RESTAURANTS
  • All within easy walking distance of the flats.
  • The Kensington Wine Rooms (127/129 KCS) for an aperitif, excellent wine by the glass, and a dining room for dinner.
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  • The Ark, 122 Palace Gardens Terrace, just behind the apartment block. Lovely Italian style food in luxurious surroundings. Bookings recommended.
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  • Sally Clarke's, 124 KCS, 7221-9225: California nouvelle cuisine, limited choice menus, expensive and exclusive – very good food.The week's menu is posted at the door. Closed Saturday and Sunday. Light bites in the basement of her bakery next door. Delicous.
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  • An Italian restaurant 135 KCS, - standard pasta and salads.
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  • Geale's, 2 Farmer St., 7727-7969. Fine fish and chips. Sit down or take out. No reservations taken but there is a bar upstairs to enjoy while you wait. Recommended.
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  • Kensington Place, 205 KCS: Very trendy, designer food and noisy. Always crowded. Popular with the media crowd.(7727-3184) Open Sundays. Make reservations. Good dish of the Day. Bring megaphone!
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  • Costas Grill on Hillgate (number 14) serves Greek food (7229-3794) and has a good takeout fish and chips next door at Number 18 (7727-4310). The restaurant is closed Sunday, the Fish restaurant is closed Sunday and Monday. Come early to get in before all the rich people from the surrounding streets who come to eat at rock bottom prices.
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  • Brunch or lunch or tea at The Orangery. It's in Kensington Gardens behind the Palace. near the entrance to the museums. Very airy, very English. Clotted cream, scones and cucumber sandwiches in an historic setting. Unmissable.
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  • Black and Blue just opposite the front door and slightly to the left – very good for steaks (organic meat) soups, enormous salads and good ground beef burgers. All day breakfast – huge. Good wine by the glass or bottle. Very popular – get there early to grab a comfortable booth. Noisy later in the evening. You might need that megaphone.
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  • There is a Kentucky Fried Chicken and a MacDonald's on the north side of NHGR all within a block of the KCS intersection. Pizza Express is 300 meters away.
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  • PUBS
  • The Old Swan, downstairs, and The Churchill Arms. Food at lunch only. Thai food at the Churchill very cheap and popular.
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  • Antiques
  • There are over 40 separate stores on KCS ranging from general antiques to specialties such as chandeliers, pottery, mirrors, or clocks. Kensington Church Street is famous for its antique shops and knowledgeable owners who will be delighted to chat about their particular speciality.
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  • On Saturday morning, there is Portobello Road Market. Think Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts in Notting Hill, the Movie. Just follow the signs and the crowds coming out of the tube station. Portobello is an outside/inside street fair/flea market/antique show/farmer's market/swap meet extraordinaire. Pickpockets also love Portobello Road. There is an upscale arcade called Admiral Vernon (#139) at the near end. There is a hole in the back of #129 selling classic cashmeres (no fancy patterns). There are specialists here too, in samplers, fountain pens, fishing gear, golf-related items, watches, magnifying glasses, buttons, fossils (fakes, too), and silver. This market is justifiably famous and HUGE.
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  • OTHER NEIGHBORHOOD SHOPPING AND SERVICES
  • There is a dry cleaner across the street from the flat which takes only one day (four hours in an emergency) and shirts take a day. Another new Laundromat has opened along Notting Hill Gate to the west past the tube station – near the end of the row of shops opposite Marks and Spencers. They also do a service wash. Next door is a modern Chinese restaurant-New Culture Revolution - with fresh stir fries and noodles (no msg). There are two movie houses on NHGR, The Coronet (7727-6705) and The Gate. The Coronet is an old music hall theatre converted but retaining a lovely old interior. The Gate looks modern from the outside but inside the ornate ceiling might take your attention from the film. You can have your photos developed or printed at Snappy Snaps directly across NHGR from Barclays Bank.
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  • MONEY MATTERS
  • There are a number of banks nearby but the closest is a branch of Barclays Bank to the north (on the corner). Travelers’ checks convert at a more favorable rate than cash. If you buy Barclays Bank travelers’ checks as sold by many American savings and loans, you can cash them at any Barclays Bank without paying a commission. Bank hours are 9:30am to 5:00pm. The conversion rate used by VISA is reasonable and the card is readily accepted most everywhere. You will need to tell your credit card company in advance that you are coming to UK.
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  • Theatre
  • Time Out, or What’s On, weekly magazines appearing every Wednesday list walking tours, gallery showings, lectures, fairs, cinema, theater, events and TV. The cheapest seats are directly from the theatre. You can telephone, charge and pick up at the theatre box office before the performance. Take your credit card with you. For several theatre engagements, call First Call. (The Ivy is the best restaurant in the West End theater district. Book well in advance. 7836-4751) Try not to stare at all the celebrities eating in there. Half Price tickets on the day of the performance sold at the Half Price Ticket Booth in Leicester Square. (be sure they are really half price before you part with your cash!!) The National Theatre, near Waterloo Station, on the South Bank of the Thames can also be reached by walking over the Bridge near Embankment Tube Station. There are three theatres from intimate to large and shows appear in repertory. The Mezzanine Restaurant at the theater complex serves delicious meals and accommodates the various curtain times. Seniors get discounts. The National Film Theatre and the Royal Festival Hall, for concerts, are also situated at the South Bank complex. Family tickets offer savings as do seniors.

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  • Telephone
  • Bring your mobile and buy a UK sim card for £10 (the card is free and the £10 is used for your calls. There are phone shops on NHG. For a deposit of £100 cash, the apartment office will loan you a UK mobile telephone and return your deposit in full (less the charges for any calls you have made if the phone had credit on it when you got it) when you give it back to them. You can top up the phone at the shops on NHG.
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  • CHECK-OUT
  • At 11,30am but the manager in the office is able to look after your luggage until 5.30pm if you have a late flight. (not on Sundays though) Make sure it is labeled with your name as this is a popular service and you don’t want it to go to Bombay! (unless you are going too).
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  • Annoyances
  • There is building work going on in Kensington Church Street that is currently causing noise by the day but is quiet and finished by 5pm. The underground trains are so hot in the summertime that people have been known to faint. Bring water in bottles and drink!
 
     
     
     
 

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