A Londoner’s guide to Kingston upon Thames

Blogger Michelle of crazycatladyldn Michelle of crazycatladyldn
I’ve been a fan of Kingston since I first moved to London in 2009. I lived in east London at the time but a friend recommended the area, so I decided to make the journey over town to visit and I’m glad I did. It’s closer and easier to get to than you might think – direct trains to Kingston leave every 15 minutes from London Waterloo.

Where to get your caffeine fix

First stop, you’ll want a coffee. The popular Department of Coffee and Social Affairs has a branch in the centre of Kingston to help satisfy your cravings. The baristas know their coffee well and let you choose what blend you want when you order. I had no clue that picking your own blends of coffee was a thing, but went for the tropical option which had a very interesting taste to it!

A couple of doors down is another independent coffee shop called Local Hero (it only has two branches, the other is in Fulham). Here you can get your caffeine fix and #coffeelovers can take those perfect Instagram photos that we all love! It also does the best breakfast/brunches – it’s worth visiting for the courgette fritters alone!

Fun-filled walks

For those interested in discovering a little bit more about the history of Kingston, for a few pounds, there are guided walks every Sunday where you can learn all about Saxon Kings, local heroes and villains, and much more. The tours start from the doors to the Market House in the Ancient Market Place.

Shop 'til you drop

I’m a massive shopaholic and Kingston is one of my favourite places to shop outside central London. There’s a wide range of high street and independent shops, all within walking distance of each other.

The Bentall Centre offers all your favourite high street chains, as well as its own Bentalls department store, filled with everything from the best beauty products to pretty homewares. The centre also hosts regular events and pop-ups - past events include a mini food and drinks market, gin sampling and an art pop-up. Some of my favourite shops inside the centre include Zara, & Other Stories and H&M.

Just around the corner on Old London Road, you’ll find a mixture of quirky vintage, antiques and charity shops, as well as an old record store. That Vintage Shop is super cute, inside and out, and the prices are very good compared with other vintage stores.

If you’re feeling brave (and want something to remember your visit by!), there’s also a very popular tattoo studio on the street. It’s also worth noting that the Jo Malone store, just off the main square, has to be one of the most Instagrammable ones I’ve ever seen!

The Rose Theatre

The Rose Theatre is also in the town centre. It’s a modern theatre that opened in 2008. The theatre is quite relaxed and tickets are reasonably priced – there’s even the option of bringing your own cushion and watching the shows from the floor at the front of the stage (kids seem to love this!). I’ve been inspired by every production I’ve seen there and constantly keep an eye out to see what’s on next.

Restaurants in Kingston

Kingston has all my go-to restaurants such as Busaba Eathai, GBK and Bill’s. But if you’re looking for something more unique, the riverside features some gorgeous pubs and restaurants – all with outdoor seating, perfect for a sunny day!

Kingston also has a few great independent eateries. My personal favourite is Poor Boys which specialises in food inspired by New Orleans. It does ice cream floats and some great cocktails – I’m a big kid so I love the cherry coke float with vanilla ice cream!

Must-see places nearby

The beautiful Hampton Court Palace is about a 30-minute walk from Kingston’s town centre. The palace is stunning; I especially love walking around the gardens on a summer day. The palace also hosts the annual RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, which is perfect for those of us who struggle to get tickets for the Chelsea one.

The picturesque walk to the palace takes you close to the gorgeous Bushy Park, which is home to some red and fallow deer families. Richmond Park and Ham House are also within walking distance of the town centre and are well worth a visit!