If unfamiliar with Notting Hill, visitors booking accommodation in London are sometimes hesitant to give this excellent neighborhood a chance as a holiday home base. They assume that it is far away from the center of the action, the theaters, the museums, the heart of London-ness.
Not so, says all of us at Elegant Retreats International. Just a short walk, tube, bus or cab ride to all the rest of the best of London, Notting Hill is itself a small, vibrant and thriving place, with many neighborhood gems worth discovering. Between the beautiful architecture, leafy garden squares and an eclectic mix of upscale and bohemian fashion, food & curio shops, the borough nestles up to Kensington and Holland Park, offering the chance to live like a Londoner in an interesting and popular village.
Your Guide to staying in Notting Hill
There are plenty of guidebooks, write-ups and travelogues that detail the most well-known of the Notting Hill events and attractions (for example Carnival, an Afro-Caribbean street festival in August and kitschy dining establishments like Beach Blanket Babylon). Instead of rehashing all the well-covered stuff, Elegant Retreats would like to offer you an insider’s guide to staying here and living like a local.
We have gorgeous self-catering houses on Chepstow Road (two, actually, right across the street from each other, nice for large groups), Ledbury Road, Colville Mews, Chapelside Mews, and even a flat on Portobello Road, plus several others waiting in the wings for our next viewing trip. We know you have many options in the holiday vacation rental market, but if you book one of the carefully selected and personally inspected Notting Hill London short-let properties in our portfolio, here’s some of what you can expect during your stay:
Notting Hill Food Markets
There is a large Tesco Metro on Portobello Road just past Westbourne Park Rd, as well as a Tesco Metro two minutes walk from the Notting Hill Gate station. Stock up on the basics at either location, or perhaps Sainsbury’s Local on Westbourne Grove, Waitrose on Porchester, or hit any of the many local gourmet markets (Grocer on Elgin, Planet Organics) for specialty foods, and any of the many small bodega markets for top ups of milk, eggs, tea, addictive digestive biscuits and strictly-UK Cadbury chocolate varieties (mmm).
Marks & Spencer, a department store and market combo known for fresh & delicious pre-prepared foods and conveniently packaged ingredients for semi-prepared meals, has a “Simply Food” storefront located just a few minutes walk from the Notting Hill Gate station (toward Holland Park). And if you feel like cooking a proper meal in the cooks kitchen at the house, there is an Asian market and a Thai market a block away, plus all the fresh produce from the market stands at Portobello Road (the upper portion of the street). There is a wonderful fishmonger on Westbourne Grove.
Excellent food abounds around every corner, enjoy it!
Restaurants & Eateries in Notting Hill
On Chepstow Road, just down the street from two of our holiday short let homes, at Talbot Road there is a fantastic Greek and/or Mediterranean style cafe and bakery, called Haminados. It’s a gem, open from 6am to 10pm, with a delicious selection of fresh pastries, sandwiches, soups, quiches, pies, deli items like hummus and tzatziki and marinated cheeses and a coffee bar. We had a perfect latte and flaky apricot thing one morning, and came back for a terrific bowl of chicken soup and a lamb burger in the afternoon. This was the favorite find of our last visit, you’ll love the friendly and accommodating owner, the reasonable prices, and the charming stone patio out back with an olive tree and random framed photos of The Beatles hanging about.
Next door to Haminados is a popular gastropub, The Prince Bonaparte. A few blocks the other direction, around the corner to the left on Westbourne Grove, is the Italian deli and cafe chain, Carrluccio’s, with terrific Italian desserts, meats, deli items and meringue cookies the size of your face. Eat in or take away, it’s a great casual eatery to have nearby on holiday.
Le Pain Quotidien is a tasty bakery and cafe with storefronts throughout the city. The Notting Hill location by the tube station is a great spot for a good coffee pick-me-up, creamy and decadent almond filled croissants, or to pick up a good loaf of sandwich bread for toasting up in your holiday home from home.
More Notting Hill Recommendations:
This from a client who stays in Notting Hill several times a year: “Please don’t miss a good burger at Lucky Seven diner, with a margarita first – they make them in the next door Mexican place. It’s our Saturday lunch staple!” Located on Westbourne Park Road.
A fashion blogger in love with Notting Hill recommends an eatery called Bloody French on Westbourne Grove. They have an excellent weekend brunch, and classic French dishes at reasonable rates. Sometimes they offer a BYO special where you can bring your bottle of wine to have with dinner, no corkage, no fee. Tres bien!
With a rich tradition and celebration of the many immigrant communities in the area, Notting Hill also offers terrific North African, Caribbean, Turkish, Afghani, and Indian food, as well as Thai, Chinese and Japanese.
But, as you’ll discover, there are an absolute ton of great places to eat in Notting Hill, let alone the rest of the city. Check London’s Time Out guide for recommendations, or try Yelp, Urbanspoon or Chowhound. Or simply walk around and find some treasures for yourself.
Shopping: Portobello Road in Notting Hill & so much more!
There’s a bit of a Parisian feel to some of the shopping rows in Notting Hill. If shopping is your thing, some notable area shops include Maje, Sandro, The Kooples, Zadig & Voitaire, Nicole Farhi, Aime, Comptoir des Cotonniers, Merchant, Les Petites and scentiful Diptyque.
Stroll Ledbury Road between Chepstow Villas and Westbourne Grove for charming designs, upscale boutiques and lovely cafes, not to mention a nice chocolate shop called Melt.
Portobello Road has shops open all week, with a new Friday market that brings some of the Saturday vendors in for slightly less jam packed streets. There is also a Vintage-only market on Fridays, north up the street, under a bridge. However, Saturday is the big day here, with all of the vendors out in full. Be sure to bring cash as the single ATM/cash dispenser usually has a ridiculous queue. And as always, keep a close eye on your bags, pockets & wallets – it’s a safe area, but prime for pickpockets with all the crowds and close quarters and people bumping into each other at the vendor tables.
There’s a treasure trove of vintage shops in the area, on Portobello Road and off. Impressive storefronts include Dolly Diamond, One of a Kind (spendy! but apparently quite special), Rellik and Retro Woman (great shoes!). Proper sifting is sometimes required to find the gems at resell shops, but they are usually quite worth it at Traid on Westbourne Grove and the Three Pound Shop on Pembridge Road.
Famous record shop: Honest Jon’s.
Famous bookstore: The bookstore featured in the Julia Roberts movie “Notting Hill” closed in 2011. Boo.
New Famous book shop: Books for Cooks. Exactly what it sounds like. Plus spices and other good stuff.
Famous Cupcakes: Hummingbird Bakery on Portobello Rd. (But also try the custard tart at Lisboa Patisserie, also on Portobello Road.)
Famous-ish and very oddball spot to check out: Museum of Brands. “The history of consumer culture is revealed though household products and shopping basket favourites in our ‘time tunnel’, which charts a nostalgic journey from Victorian times to the present day.” On Colville Mews.
Getting Around London, Staying in Notting Hill
Know Where You Are Going
Get an Oyster card for the tube and buses at any tube station. It requires a refundable GBP 5 deposit plus whatever amount wish to pre-pay-as-you-go. Put GBP 20 on it to start, single rides are GBP 2 (GBP 1 for teens) and your max daily fare will be between GBP 7 and GBP 8.40 depending on how many trips you take and at what time of day. Or you can choose to purchase a Travel Card (also available via Oyster Card), good for unlimited travel on buses & tubes in your zone (Zone 1 is all most visitors to London will need, starting at GBP 29.70 for 7 days of unlimited travel), and use it to get around town with abandon. There are many buses nearby, and the London transport web site is very easy for planning trips by bus or tube.
The number 70 bus picks up at Notting Hill Gate, or along Westbourne Grove (we like the stop in front of Carluccio’s), with a fast 11 or 13 minute interesting and sites-filled ride to South Kensington, to the museums, the tube station, and all the shops, restaurants and attractions of the area.
Side note about buses: Not all bus stops pick up every bus on the route, so be sure to look at the sign at each stop to see if the bus you are wanting to take actually picks up there. You may have to walk a few blocks in one direction or the other to find the right pick-up stop (We figured this one out the hard way several years back.)
Walking in London
Walk whenever possible. There’s nothing so terrific as discovering the city while strolling through the streets, perusing windows and menus, catching glimpses into the large front room windows of the period buildings lining the busy roads.
London Taxi Cabs
Keep all the massive amounts of coinage you’ll be getting in change whenever you buy anything, and have it handy. If you are ever lost or confused or just plum too tuckered out to try to figure out where you are versus where you want to be, just hop in a London Taxi and ask them to take you to a familiar landmark so you can get your bearings.
Get the most out of your London visit to Notting Hill
Our best advice for enjoying your stay: Above all, relax and have fun. London is an incredible city, with no end of activities, sites, excursions and experiences to take in. Notting Hill is a fun and interesting place to explore and from which to base for all your adventures in this incredible international city.
We update our local area guides after each property inspection visit, taking advantage of all the wonderful stuff our clients report back after their own holidays in each neighborhood. We hope you’ll report back any highlights or special finds from your trip on your return.