London, England is a unique city with an undeniable amount of youthful charisma mixed with rich history and has slowly become my home away from home. Although the city central is undoubtedly a site to add to your list of places to visit, the boroughs surrounding the city should definitely not be overlooked. One borough in particular is quite special to me, not just because I have been living here for the past two months, but because it has indescribable charm and attraction. Kingston is home to my host University, and I have therefore had the opportunity to explore pretty well all of the city to find the best places and must-see sites in and around the town. I have broken down my list into three categories: my favorite palace, my favorite pub, and my favorite overall place in Kingston.
Favorite Palace: Hampton Court Palace
I have always loved learning history, about everything. I find it very fascinating to stand in a place and know something significant occurred in the exact spot some hundred years ago. And yet, even for me, a small palace in Kingston Upon Thames would never have been a standout attraction for a short visit to England. However, I urge you to not overlook the dime of Hampton Court Palace. This palace has so much charm and electrifying history with architecture unlike anything I’ve seen before, and I’ve been to quite a few historic buildings in and around central London. When I visited with a school group, we were able to tour the entire palace including kitchens, churches, King and Queen’s chambers, gardens, greenhouses, and on. I highly recommend doing a complete tour because I was able to learn so much about different aspects of England and its history, more than I would’ve ever expected from a palace in a small borough of London. I am so glad I was able to experience Hampton Court Palace and will definitely be returning for a round two next time I’m visiting.
Favorite Pub: Coronation Hall (Weatherspoon’s)
So, technically the address of this pub is Surbiton, which is where my accommodations are also located; however, Surbiton and Kingston are two towns that run tightly together so I am going to include this on my list anyway. The Coronation Hall, an addition to the chain pub Weatherspoon’s, very quickly became the place to be in my group of friends. After our first or second day of being in Kingston, we just knew we would love it and it would become the hang out spot for the rest of our time here. Pubs in England are not just for drinking as I assumed they were before arriving, they are places to eat, hang out, and just relax. Pubs originate from public housing and were simply created to allow meeting areas for locals to visit with each other, still holding true today. I have met an abundance of locals in pubs, creating an excellent way of really immersing yourself in British culture. Some of my favorite memories from study abroad so far are from The Coronation Hall; there’s just something in the air of that small pub up the hill that creates an irresistible ambience.
Favorite Place: The Riverside
This is a bit harder to narrow down as there are many general areas I love in Kingston; however, the riverside area is probably my favorite. The River Thames runs right down the center of Kingston and splits into small canals through the town. Along the main portion of the river, there is a small trail situated directly on the riverside. Part of this walkway includes a natural landscape, then subtly transitions to rows of restaurants and pubs. The riverside trail then connects to the Kingston Bridge holding a view of the river I will never tire of seeing. This area is particularly stunning when the autumn air paints the leaves orange, red, and a hint of green. Whether you want to bike, run, walk, or just eat, the riverside is definitely worth a visit while in Kingston.