Kensington Roof Gardens to close after 37 years

London restaurant and event space Kensington Roof Gardens, famed for its tropical fauna and flock of resident flamingos, is to close after 37 years in business.

The rooftop venue, which comprises the Babylon restaurant, has been tenanted by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition since 1981, while the gardens were first landscaped in the 1930s. Its tropical setting, flowing stream of tropical fish, city views and resident flock of flamingoes (Bill, Ben, Splosh and Pecks) have made it a much-loved staple of London’s nightlife.

Over the past 37 years, the “hidden gem” of a venue has played host to top DJs and live musical talent as well as hosting numerous events, showbiz parties, award ceremonies, weddings and dinners in its restaurant Babylon, which opened in 2001.

However this week Branson’s team confirmed its plans to close down its operation at the venue. In a statement Virgin Limited Edition said The Roof Gardens had “stood the test of time” but that it was time to close its doors, citing “unpredictable market conditions” that have made it an increasing challenge for the operation to remain profitable.

Higher operating costs, including rent and business rates are thought to have put pressure on the operation. Managing director Jon Brown has said that he believes The Roof Gardens would be taken on by a new operator.

“We are certain The Roof Gardens will continue to be one of London’s most spectacular and extraordinary landmarks and look forward to seeing what’s next for this beautiful venue,” the statement added.

Virgin has said that clients who had paid deposits on upcoming events would have their money returned.

The closure will result in the redundancy of 85 staff.

Kensington Roof Gardens has been home to a flock of flamingos, including Bill and Ben.

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