The spice-laden scent of Portobello Market, the joyful colour of Carnival, those pastel-coloured houses and pub-studded streets – it’s easy to see why the West London neighbourhood of Notting Hill attracts the world’s attention. And, yes, it may have lost some of its edge since a certain Richard Curtis film brought mega investment, global retail chains and a coterie of celebrity residents, but that hasn’t diminished the artistic energy and spirit of fun that still animates these (much less mean) streets.
Our insider guide of the best Notting Hill addresses to know now covers everything from bars to bookshops, secret sandwich spots to actual peacocks, and is guaranteed to keep you busy from morning espresso to negroni night-cap.
With so much to take in, start with a caffeine fix. On Ledbury Road, you’ll find diminutive Danish coffee shop Hagen. And if you’re planning to meander down Portobello, fuel up first with a coffee and croissant from artisan deli Sally Clarke on Westbourne Grove.
If you want to rub shoulders with in-the-know locals, they’re likely to be found slightly off-the-beaten-track on the Golborne Road (the quieter little sister to pounding Portobello). Go directly to Golborne Deli where mornings might mean a matcha latte and a cold-pressed juice, and evenings could consist of a glass of wine with a half-dozen oysters. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t urge you to try the sourdough pastries at locally-loved bakery Layla.
For something stronger, there are theatrical cocktails and an incredible soundtrack to be found at Franklin’s Wine. But, really, pints of Guinness at proper pubs are what Notting Hill does best – the Cow, the Pelican and the Hillgate are our favourites.
During the day, squeeze into the adorable Tin Shed on All Saints Road, try cult pita place Miznon, or seek out the Secret Sandwich Shop above a nightclub on Talbot Road.
In the evenings you could sample upscale sushi at Sumi, Anglo-Italian dishes at Straker’s, Scottish seafood at Jackson Boxer’s Orasay, or nose-to-tail meat treats at Hereford Road. Book ahead for a table at the very glittery Gold on Portobello or canoodle at the clubby (and credit card-clobbering) Casa Cruz.
If you’re gallivanting on the Golborne Road, make your way to the mysteriously named the Store to discover new, independent fashion and jewellery brands with a sustainable focus. Couverture and the Garbstore is a concept boutique housing tomorrow’s trends and eclectic brands for men, women and home. And at Aimé, you’ll find more than a soupcon of French-girl style.
Canter up to Jessie Western to find yee-haw cowboy boots, turquoise jewellery and blanket coats, or snoop around 282 Portobello‘s selection of vintage tweeds, trenches and blazers. Before you travel home, find your next favourite read from the knowledgeable staff at independent bookshop Lutyens & Rubinstein or pick up records from all corners of the globe at local institution Honest Jon’s.
Leave lots of time to hunt and haggle for art, jewellery, food and furniture at Portobello Market. Saturday is the official market day, but go on a Friday morning to get first pick at the best homeware and antiques. For a break from the crowds, take a stroll through the greenery of Holland Park to see the peacocks strut or find your zen in the peaceful Kyoto Garden.
Rainy afternoon? Settle into one of the squishy velvet armchairs to watch a film at the Electric Cinema. Or, time your visit to coincide with the good vibes of Notting Hill Carnival – for two days every August, the streets of the neighbourhood are filled with the sound of steel bands, calypso, and house parties as millions (yes, really) gather for the massive Caribbean street festival.
Though it has a regal name, there are no airs and graces at pub-with-rooms the Princess Royal which occupies a quiet side street off shopping avenue Westbourne Grove. There are craft cocktails and gastro fare in the convivial dining room, and four soothing bedrooms upstairs outfitted in Robert Kime and bold wallpapers.
The Portobello Hotel will plug you into Notting Hill’s rock ‘n’ roll past – this eccentric townhouse stay has witnessed many celeb shenanigans, though you wouldn’t know it from its prim and proper facade. For community spirit, you can’t beat the Laslett, an all-day kind of hangout that’s studded with serious artwork and provides a stack of Penguin classics in every bedroom.
Where to next? Explore our full list of London hotels.