In fairy-tale district Notting Hill, the Princess Royal serves her subjects with grace and style. In this brought-back-to-glory Victorian pub with just four rooms, there are no peas under mattresses, just sleeping beauties in rooms appointed with pieces from fine artisans: Rapture & Wright’s bold wallpapers, Robert Kime antiques, historically inspired Lefroy Brooks bathrooms. Under the rule of hotel group Country Creatures and gloriana gastropubbers Cubitt House, there’s a big hug of Cotswolds hominess here with cosmopolitan lures of chef Ben Tish’s lusty Mediterranean menu, a raw bar and star-gardener-pruned terrace. Stop in for a pint or cocktail on tap, order up a banquet’s worth, then make like Cinderella, curling up under the covers by midnight.
Four individually styled rooms, all fittingly named after princesses: Diana, Alexandra, Lillibet and Margaret.
11am (those before 8am must be arranged in advance of your stay). Check-in is available from 2pm till 11pm, but the porter is on call for any arrivals after this time. Early check-ins and late check-outs will be subject to availability and a £30 fee.
Double rooms from £180.00, including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates don’t usually include breakfast (from £15 a guest), but oh, you’ll want it, with three-cheese ibérico ham toasties with truffle, ricotta pancakes with blood-orange syrup and an ennobled eggs Benedict with smoked eel and guanciale on the table.
The pub and terrace are accessible but a steep staircase to the four rooms upstairs and no lift makes overnight stays tricky for those with mobility issues. If you’re planning something special, the two upstairs private dining rooms are as stylish as the rest of the establishment. The Victoria seats 20 and has its own private terrace, and Charlotte seats eight in a space with an original fireplace and oodles of antique allure.
The hotel closes annually over the August bank holiday when the Notting Hill Carnival rolls through town.
At the hotel
Garden terrace, two private dining rooms, raw bar and coffee station, free WiFi. In rooms: Smart TV, Roberts Radio, coffee- and tea-making kit, desk, bathrobes, air-conditioning, 100 Acres bath products.
Our favourite rooms
All four rooms could claim the crown for favourite. Each is impeccably styled, with bold-choice green and red wallpapers and fabrics (a surprisingly un-Christmassy combination here) from heritage and luxury Brit brands such as Fermoie, Soane, the Whiteworks Group, Lewis & Wood, Guy Goodfellow, Ian Mankin and Rapture & Wright; and historically researched Lefroy Brooks bathrooms. And, the team scoured local antique shops and galleries (Robert Kime, the Bakery Art), plus fairs in Stroud and Tetbury, and worked with acclaimed artists (Nicola Grellier) for the personal touches a neighbourhood pub needs. But, if we’re pressed to choose, the heir apparent is the Diana Room, the largest and most romantic with a gorgeous curvaceous bath tub at the foot of the bed.
Bring outfits to cover the entire spectrum of weather – come hell or British rain, you’ll want to take your turn on the terrace. And leave ample space for shopping-spree hauls.
The pub has come full circle, reclaiming the name it started with in Victorian times. It went through a few phases in the interim, pivoting to a porterhouse and oyster bar and Cali-style restaurant before the Country Creatures hotel group moved in.
This is Notting Hill, dahling, so this Princess is upstanding enough for families. Two of the rooms can fit one extra bed and the upstairs is well muffled, but this is still a pub, so be prepared for ambient noise and post-bedtime revels.
The hotel’s designer has sourced decor from high-end British artisans and suppliers. Rooms have fabrics and wallpapers from the likes of sustainable luxury brand Rapture & Wright and beautiful heritage bathrooms from Lefroy Brooks, and they’ve trawled antique shops and fairs locally and throughout the UK for finishing touches. The kitchen uses Natoora for ingredients direct from farms and growers, Wright Brothers for day-boat fish, and meat suppliers who use regenerative farming methods (Hannans, Walter Rose and Taste Tradition). And, their delectable dishes are from Birdie Fortescue ceramics. All glass and cardboard is recycled and the hotel has partnered with the Green Earth Appeal to help plant trees in developing countries, for which they take £1 from every bill. Plus they've worked to help Unicef and Cook for Ukraine, and have reached out to local organisations.
Urban gardener extraordinaire Jinny Blom has turned the terrace into a resplendently green haven that cries out for sunny days. And, for something special, the Victoria dining room, with its private terrace and chandeliers made from champagne flutes.
No tiaras or ceremonial togs required.
Chef Ben Tish is the crown prince of this tale – you can keep your glass slippers, just give us the fennel biscuits with hefty schmears of whipped ‘nduja, the truffly pizzette fritte packed with three cheeses, flat-iron fiorentina steak with dandelion and grape must, brûléed rice pudding with rhubarb sorbet and Amalfi lemon and olive-oil cake with mascarpone. All of it, please. Formerly at acclaimed eateries Norma and the Salt Room, Tish brings plenty of boom to the Cubitt House gastro group’s new darling in conceiving this hyper-seasonal Mediterranean menu (fuelled by Natoora’s farm-sourced produce, Wright Brother’s day-boat catches and several sustainable butchers). You can dine amid the buzz of the bar on a leather stool or well-stuffed banquette, but the Garden Room to the back is quieter for more intimate meals. And, don’t overlook the raw bar within the bar to the back of the restaurant, where the crabs are stuffed with chilli and lemon, the oysters piqued with spicy chorizo, and deeply blushing prawns bask in orange and rosemary. Which just goes to show, it was true love’s dish we’ve really been waiting for this whole time.
The hotel was first and foremost the Princess Royal pub back in Victorian times (a discovery made while restoring the porch’s mosaic floor), and in the spirit of reviving its name, some of its late 1800s style has been revived too, with the beautifully restored horseshoe bar, ringed by sturdy wood-and-leather stools, midnight-blue walls, exposed brick, beckoning banquettes. But, there are subtle signs of modernisation: decorative tiling, enlivening artwork, pendant lighting. Naturally, pints are the top pull here, with a considered selection of crafts brews behind the bar, but there are also cocktails (some on tap) and a listed of around 120 expertly curated Mediterranean wines. Order up a mini martini (there are three kinds) or perhaps a chilled grillo and take it out to sip in the leafy bower terrace on a sunny day, perhaps under the olive tree’s boughs.
Breakfast is from 8am till 10.30am, lunch from 12 noon till 3pm. After that, food runs till 10pm (last orders at 9.30pm), but drinks flow till 11pm. On Sunday, service runs from noon to 9pm.
The Princess Royal sits among classic white and redbrick townhouses on peaceful Hereford Road in Notting Hill, just off the elegantly populated and somewhat busier Westbourne Grove.
Of London’s big-four airports, Heathrow is the closest at just a 40-minute drive away; Luton, Stansted and Gatwick are around an hour to 90 minutes’ drive away. You could hop in a taxi, but the Heathrow Express is a faster, cheaper ride, taking just 15 minutes to reach Paddington station, from which you just need to go one stop on the Tube to either Bayswater or Royal Oak on the Circle Line.
The Princess is equidistant from Royal Oak, Notting Hill Gate and Bayswater Tube stations, a 10-minute walk north or south. All are on the Circle Line, but the Bayswater branch, which also serves the District Line, is a little handier for circumnavigating London, and Notting Hill Gate will whisk you through it on the Central Line. The nearest major overground station is Paddington, and if you’re arriving from the Eurostar, you can ride the Circle Line round from King’s Cross St Pancras.
Driving isn’t really the done thing here, with (largely) reliable public transport at your service, and parking spaces being harder to find than an affordable pied-à-terre in this neighbourhood. But, should London be a stop on a road trip (the Princess’s sister stays in the Cotswolds – the Double Red Duke and the Swan – are well worth a town-and-country trip), you can hire wheels easily. There are limited parking bays outside the pub (restrictions apply), free from Parking is free 6.30am to 8.30am Monday to Friday, from 1.30pm Saturday and all day Sunday. Or stow your wheels in the NCP Car Park London Arthur Court.
Worth getting out of bed for
The heart of Richard Curtis land, with rainbow streets, village-y shopping quarters and a quaint-ness usually reserved for Cotswolds shepherding hamlets, Notting Hill is one of London’s most picturesque neighbourhoods, which makes it all the more forgivable when it costs you a pretty penny. Its biggest draw, aside from wistful walks by its centuries-old townhouses, is Portobello Market, which actually extends well beyond its namesake street with bric-a-brac and antique stalls, enticingly scented street food stands, vintage and indie clothing racks, piles of handicrafts, and still fruit and veg. It’s open all weekend, but its main trading day is Saturday when it runs by the hotel along Westbourne Grove, putting you in pole position for an early raid. And then, there are the shops – go for some retail therapy and you’ll soon see why this is one of the most monied areas of London; there’s disposable income by the Swiss-bank-account load, and the temptations to match. Some of our favourites are chic French import L’Appartement Sézane, who you’ll recognise by its lavish floral windows; Lisou London with its cheery Tanzanian prints; Native & Co for minimalist Japanese homewares; Aimé for flowy Franco-Cambodian wearables; Les Couilles du Chiens (‘the dog’s bollocks’) for quirky antique finds; Jessie Western for cowboy boots of all kinds; and Honest Jon’s for a good vinyl rummage. And, for dainty piercings, teeny tattoos and delicate jewellery, hit up Astrid & Miyu just down the road. If the hotel’s way with wall decoration has inspired you, pick up similar pieces at the Bakery; or find attention-grabbing pieces at Maddox Gallery around the corner and Graffik on Portobello. And you can watch indie and blockbuster films in squishy armchairs at Electric Cinema. London’s greenest parts are within strolling distance too: Holland Park with its soul-soothing Kyoto Garden, Kensington Gardens with its still-inhabited royal residences and Hyde Park, with the Serpentine galleries and lake to pedalo over.
While the Princess’s breakfast spread will have you leaping out of bed like it’s Christmas morning, we have to point out the luck of having American import and cult brunching spot Sunday in Brooklyn just next door – truly kismet. Many a weekend hangoveree has been brought back to life here by stacks of pancakes with brown butter and hazelnut maple praline, egg sandwiches with gojuchang mayo, scrambles and shakshuka, and biscuits and gravy. But the deliciousness runs till late with a dinner menu of small plates (ceviche, garlic mussels, dips and ribs), burgers and the likes of lemony chicken and cheesy stuffed pasta shells. On the other end of the scale – the lighter one, admittedly – is goddess-y restaurant Farmacy, whose menu is full of ideas that are eco-friendly, sustainable and deliciously healthy. Creamy coconut curry, mushroom tacos with chipotle, and cauliflower popcorn with a hemp crumb are the sort of dishes that comfort and nourish. And, along Kensington Park Road, Orasay brings the brine and beauty of Scotland’s Western Islands to West London, with transportive fare such as Lindisfarne oysters with sea buckthorn aguachile, chalkstream trout with forced rhubarb and lemon sole with fermented chilli butter and brown shrimp.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this long-may-she-reign pub with rooms in a queenly corner of West London and given their credit card time to recover from their shopping forays, a full account of their anarchically monarchic break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Princess Royal in Notting Hill…
Disney, take note – the Princess Royal, a charming, ‘make yourself at home’ pub with rooms in Notting Hill, presents a regal metaverse, with its four rooms (and two private dining rooms) named after real-life royalty: Diana; Victoria; the Queen’s sister Margaret; her cousin Alexandra; and her great grandchildren: Meghan and Harry’s daughter Lillibet; and Wills’ and Kate’s, Charlotte. But, this is very much the people’s pub with no airs and graces and relaxed protocol, where the fanfare you hear is just a blast of deserved media love. We suspect this delightful down to earth-ness is the influence of owners Country Creatures, whose fellow Smith stays (the Swan and Double Red Duke) have charmed the Cotswolds. Set just off Westbourne Grove, the Princess couldn’t be more cosmopolitan, and yet this feels as warm and welcoming as any rural boozer. Yes, this particular fairy-tale is one where the princess escapes the palace in disguise to let her hair down, enjoy one of the craft cocktails on tap on the verdant terrace (pruned into shape by star urban gardener Jinny Blom) and mingle at the restored horseshoe bar. And if there’s any prince in this story, it’ll be Ben Tish, the former Norma and the Salt Room chef who’s magicked up a menu full of wonders: fennel biscuits thickly spread with whipped ‘nduja, chubby red prawns in rosemary and orange, a fast-favourite Amalfi lemon and olive-oil cake; dishes that put another feather in the cap of Country Creatures’ gastro king-makers the Cubitt Group. And, what about the happily ever after (or at least until check-out)? Well, when the clock strikes 11, four regally appointed rooms await your highness just upstairs.
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