My favourite pocket of London, High Street Kensington, is seeing its fabulous Roof Gardens play host to live music from up and coming artists on Friday and Saturday evenings until the end of March.
I used to live out west, near High Street Kensington. It was one of the happiest times of my life. An overpriced and undersized room in an ex-council block overlooking Holland Park was all I needed. I never had to leave the neighbourhood – everything I wanted was on the High Street. Only when I had to go to work (grrr), would I leave my W8 bubble.
Alas, my wild antipodean flatmates eventually ran out of money and had to return home, leaving me unable to afford the extortionate rent – forcing to move elsewhere. My warm feelings for the area continue to this day however, so when I heard that the Roof Gardens, the crowning jewel of Kensington High Street, were re-launching their live music nights, I had to check it out.
I remember my surprise when I first took the lift up to the top floor from Derry Street to find myself in another world. At first glance, you encounter a super glamorous nightclub venue with expensive uplighting and swathes of white fabric. So far, so London, but this is only part of it. Keep walking, and you reach an incredible outdoor garden space, bordered by brick terraces and mature trees. It suddenly feels very unlike London, and more like you’ve stumbled into a European village square, or even (at the top corner of the garden) a Moroccan villa. The only aspect which brings you back to old Blighty is the chill in the air.
As you begin to explore further, you discover yet another area. Just off of the open courtyard there is another area, covered by a clear canopy – this is where the live music happens. The clear canopy (allowing a view of the stars above) gives the feeling of an outdoor concert, but with none of the chilliness. Genuine stone archways and manicured botanical features add to the richness and heritage of the venue.
Upcoming featured performances including Pop Idol acoustic singer Sarah Whatmore, the hot London four piece Appelican Healy and stand-out vocal artists Tiger Lilly, Jess Goyder and Lydia Baylis. The Tanqueray Live evenings act as a showcase of new talent, as well as some familiar faces. Tanqueray based cocktails are expertly whipped up by the skilled barmen, and serve as the perfect accompaniment to such an awe inspiring setting.
My personal favourite was the new Rosemary Vesper Cocktail which featured Tanqueray, Ketel One, Lillet Blanc and Rosemary Leaves. It’s a short and sharp mixture, which is both refreshing and enlivening. Also, if like me, you appreciate a bite to eat when out and about, the open barbecue grill is hard to resist – offering burgers and other treats to help fuel you through the evening.
Go west, to experience something different. You will feel like you’ve left not only London, but the country. Cheaper than a trip to Morocco – and with the added bonus that if you find yourself being tempted by the Tanqueray concoctions on offer, you can still blame it on the jetlag in the morning.
Performances start around 7pm on Fridays and Saturdays. For advance bookings, tickets are priced at £15 and on the door entrance is £20 per person.
For further details, call The Roof Gardens Club team on 020 7368 3960 or visit www.roofgardens.virgin.com