Our guide to spending the weekend in the uniquely charming neighbourhood of Notting Hill
Words Helen Brown
Best known for hosting the world’s second biggest carnival, for housing the famous Portobello Road market and for its starring role in the movie of the same name, Notting Hill is a must-go for culture vultures and those looking for a quintessential London adventure. Here we’ve rounded up what’s what in the iconic neighbourhood.
Food and drink
For something simple, stylish and endlessly satisfying, Lisa’s Kitchen & Bar is the Notting Hill hotspot to have on your radar. This Portobello cafe is centred around all things Nordic with a Swedish menu and Scandinavian staff. We love the simplicity of the ingredients that go into each dish. Traditional Swedish fare includes dill-cured salmon with creamed potatoes and lemon, north Atlantic prawns with dill and meatballs with mashed potatoes, pickled cucumber and lingonberries. If it’s brunch you are after, Lisa’s also has a tantalising offering of typical brunch classics – hello, avocado – along with benedicts, bagels and the full Swedish.
No West London round up would be complete without a trip past the pastel hued houses of Portobello Road. It’s a veritable visual feast of sugar coated homes fronted in the rainbow’s spectrum. Visitors flock from all over the world to discover this best loved London landmark which plays host each Saturday to the Portobello Road Market. Colourful terraces are interspersed with antiques shops, local buskers, historic pubs and clothing stalls, collectively forming the world’s largest antiques market with over 1,000 dealers selling every kind of antiquity and collectible. Elgin Crescent is worth a wander if only to pop into Books for Cooks, a treasure trove of food related titles with a fabulous café out back for cooking demonstrations, light lunches and tea. Just a hop skip and a jump across the street is the tiny Spice Shop – stockist of more than 2,500 herbs, spices and condiments in gorgeous little yellow tins. For botanical browsing, Wild At Heart is everything you’d expect of a Notting Hill florist, situated within a listed building called the Turquoise Island and abundant with artistic bouquets, beautiful and expensive.
Fans of that Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts film shouldn’t fail to frequent the renamed Notting Hill Bookshop on Blenheim Crescent, Hotel Hempel in Craven Hill Gardens and 280 Westbourne Park Road. They would also likely be interested to know that there are two cinemas in the area, most notably the Electric cinema; it’s one of London’s oldest picture houses and is imbued with vintage charm from the past century. The Coronet cinema is also worth a look; now returned to its roots as a theatre and allegedly haunted by the ghost of an attendant who threw herself over the venue’s balcony.
Away from the silver screen, the Gate Theatre is one of London’s smallest but best off-West End stages and puts on a whole host of wacky, arty productions not normally found on London’s main stage scene. For a pop of art culture, the West Bank Gallery should be your point of call. There is usually an exhibition on here, perfect for an afternoon of perusing, and if it’s closed, there is an ever changing exposé of artwork on the wall outside.