Sunny days are always the best days to visit Notting Hill. That’s when all the colourful, small houses brighten up, adding to the villagey vibe of the area. With its many cafes, restaurants and shops, it really is the perfect place to spend a morning or afternoon. Despite it now having a reputation for being a ‘fashionable’ part of London, with boutiques and high-end shops, you can still find the spirit of the real Notting Hill if you look – just ignore the people searching for Hugh Grant’s blue door!
The main attraction in Notting Hill is the 2 mile long Portobello Road which has had some form of market since the 1800s. I frequently find myself strolling through the stalls on many an idle weekend or having a leisurely brunch at one of the trendy cafes.
The market is particularly popular for its antiques (some genuine and some not so genuine) and other bric a brac but also food, fashion music, ceramics and everything else you can think of! The best place to start exploring would most certainly be from Notting Hill Gate station – a few minutes down Pembridge Road and you’re at the top of Portobello Road.Street art
Believe it or not Notting Hill has some pretty cool street art – Shoreditch eat your heart out! You’ll find these by going off-piste and exploring the many side roads off Portobello Road and looking up.Food
Part of the experience of coming to Portobello Market is the food, whether it’s the street food paella, doughnuts or the nutella dipped churros. If you have a bit more time, drop in to some of the great cafes and restaurants for a bite to eat, though you may have to queue as Saturdays are extremely busy.
Ottolenghi’s (Ledbury Road) has amazing salads and cakes. For the more traditional brunch options, I’d recommend the very instagram popular Farm Girl Café (Portobello Road), Granger & Co (Westbourne Grove), the painfully hip Electric Diner (Portobello Road) and Bluebells Café (Portobello Road). The food is great and they are also good places for people watching! And, for a treat, try Morelli’s Gelato or get a red velvet cupcake from Hummingbird’s bakery.
For coffee, Gail’s Bakery or Coffee Plant are great options (but there are loads more!). Check out the seriously cute Biscuiteers cafe (Kensington Park Road) with it’s beautifully iced biscuits, perfect for any occasion and great for gifts. They also do some fun biscuit icing classes!Shopping
Portobello Road is full of stalls with items ranging from jewellery, clothes and shoes to fruit, veg and flowers. But If you’re on the lookout for vintage fashion items, head to the market under Westway flyover. For vintage furniture shopping, head to Golborne Road.
If market stall fashion isn’t you’re thing, go to Westbourne Grove for some high-end shopping. You’ll find some really interesting boutiques as well as the more popular brands like Club Monaco, Matches Fashion, Maje and Sandro. Some of the shops (Jigsaw) offer in-house cafe services so you can eat/drink while you shop! There are also a number of alfresco dining options – 202 is the most popular one! If you’re looking for a real bargain, check out the Oxfam on Westbourne Grove – you would be surprised at what the Notting Hill set drop off here!Top tips:
- Saturday is the best day for the full experience but go early (pre-11am) or you’ll be fighting the crowds.
- Don’t just stick to Portobello Road, explore the many side streets – that’s where you’ll find the quintessential Victorian, coloured houses as well as some amazing street art! Up until Golborne Road, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy.
- Don’t just check the market stalls on Portobello Road – take some time to visit the many antique stores along the way which look deceptively small from the outside but are actually market places inside. You never know what you’ll find!
- Enjoy the food and come with an empty stomach – bring cash with you.
- For the ultimate cinema experience, visit the famous Electric Cinema which oozes vintage – it’s small but they show new releases and you won’t really find another cinema with leather armchairs, beds and cashmere blankets to watch a movie!