The Orangery At Kensington Palace Is A Summer Delight

By Olivia Emily

3 weeks ago

After a seven-years-long overhaul, The Orangery is a bold, bright and beautiful reimagining of a regal space


Every regal estate needs an orangery – and Queen Anne got hers in 1704, a lofty greenhouse in which she could tend to her beloved orange trees. Designed by visionary architect Nicholas Hawksmoore and completed in 1704, the lavish interior is characterised by panelling, cornice, 24 white Corinthian columns, and four stunning statues of female deities by Pietro Francavilla, bought by Frederick, Prince of Wales (father of George III) in 1751. From true orangery to entertaining space hosting extravagant royal gatherings to hotspot for afternoon tea, a new refined future for The Orangery was solidified in 2017 – and the doors were swiftly closed to get started.

Stepping inside today, after breezing past the terrace teeming with sunseekers, the light-filled, all white restaurant is a sight to behold. Olivia Emily tucks into the new lunch offering.

Inside The Orangery

© Alex Rory Jacob

Review: The Orangery Restaurant At Kensington Palace

Which is your favourite London park? Besides Regent’s Park, nothing comes close to Hyde Park’s younger sister, tucked away beside High Street Kensington, and stretching out like a glorious, extensive lawn from Kensington Palace. Kensington Gardens, with its secret enclosed garden, Diana memorial and imposing Palace itself, is one of the prettiest spots in the city. Only adding to this reputation of grandeur is the reopening of The Orangery Restaurant, housed in the striking, red brick, lofty ceilinged former palace orangery, complete with its own fledgling orange trees and fresco like paintings in this new era.

It serves breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea in elegant surroundings, with sumptuous sofas, soft-touch velvet chairs and marble-topped tables grounding the airy interiors. With design studio StudioKKD breathing new life into The Orangery’s space, visitors can expect a warm, textured and sophisticated palette of materials and colours which complement the historical architecture and draw on the verdant surroundings, all wrapped up in Verdure Tapestry wallpaper by Cole & Son. The towering windows speak for themselves, sun spilling into the room and over the tables.

Afternoon tea

© Alex Rory Jacob

I’m not an afternoon tea fanatic personally, but it’s pleasing to see towers of cakes, scones and mini sandwiches escaping the kitchen, plus pots of tea and plenty of crisp white wine, rose and fizz (the Brits know how to do it). The lunch menu, however, is exactly what I’m after, brimming with seasonal British fare with playful nods towards the surrounding history. Think heirloom tomatoes with English burrata, wild mushroom tortellini and a seasonal fruit platter, all gathered ecologically with a root-to-tip philosophy, ingredients from some of London’s finest local artisan suppliers, an exclusive reliance on British meats and cheeses, and adherence to the Good Fish Guide for responsible seafood sourcing.

It being a gloriously sunny day, I’m pleased to see the light, summery menu, packed with fish, veggies and fruit. I begin with the delicate and crisp Wye Valley asparagus accompanied by zingy pink grapefruit slices and pomegranate, with a splurge of yellow vegan mayonnaise to boot. Next, I tuck into the perfectly cooked seared Chalkstream trout with moreish crispy skin served atop a pile of buttery smashed potatoes with cauliflower cream, mussels and a lemon thyme dressing, offset by fresh samphire with a slight crunch and half a hefty tomato. Heavenly. The rib-eye steak is also a delicious choice, served with a pressed potato, grilled baby leek, and a generous jug of peppercorn sauce.

A plate of fish with a glass of fizz

Seared Chalkstream Trout © Alex Rory Jacob

End with a dainty treat from the fruit-led dessert menu: the lemon tart is a sharp, sweet treat, brought down to earth with blueberries, while The Orange is the restaurant’s most iconic dish – a perfect ball of orange sorbet served with a citrus salad and a pile of chocolate ‘soil’.

It’s all fresh, light, divine, and best accompanied by a glass of English sparkling (how about Ridgeview Bloomsbury, which was the fizz of choice at the late Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2022?) and delightful sunshine pouring through the windows.

In the UK, the latter, alas, cannot be counted on – but so sun-filled is The Orangery Restaurant on this spring afternoon, so buzzy the outdoor seating area, it just promises to be a honeypot all summer long.

A ball of sorbet made to look like an orange

The Orange © Alex Rory Jacob

BOOK IT

The Orangery is open daily for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea from 10am to 6pm. Walk-ins are welcome, and tables can be booked at hrp.org.uk

Address: The Orangery Restaurant, Kensington Palace Gardens, London W8 4PX