Your Notting Hill Guide – How to Explore this London Neighbourhood
Wondering about the unmissable things to do in Notting Hill, one of the most iconic London neighbourhoods? Heh, this post is the answer you’ve been looking for! Scroll down to find the best Notting Hill attractions, as well as the best accommodations and restaurants in the area, so you will be fully prepared for your upcoming trip to the city! All hand-picked by a local – a.k.a. me!
It would be difficult to name a more vibrant district in London than Notting Hill. It is so much more than a beautiful backdrop for a 90s rom-com (although it certainly lives up to its cinematic hype). If you are looking to get away from central London’s hustle and bustle and enjoy some more village vibes, then Notting Hill is for you.
It’s easy to see why Notting Hill attracts many visitors each year with its world-renowned markets, eccentric backstreets, colourful houses, and trendy restaurants and bars, not to mention the Notting Hill Carnival. In case you’re interested to read more, let’s get right into my Notting Hill area guide:
A bit about Notting Hill, London
Notting Hill is steeped in history. It was mostly rural in the 18th century as an area used for piggeries (great word) and brick making. As a fun fact, there’s still one historic brick kiln standing on Walmer road.
Development began in the early 19th century when a wealthy landowner invested his money in establishing streets and houses. He hoped to create a fashionable neighbourhood to attract affluent Londoners to move into the district. In the 1950s, Caribbean immigrants moved to the area attracted by low-cost living, which led to Notting Hill becoming seen as the slums. The influx of immigrants to the area led to the race riots of 1958 before the gentrification in the 21st century.
Today, Notting Hill is an eclectic and fashionable neighbourhood with a urban-village feel. You might recognise it from modern pop culture such as films like Love Actually and, of course, Notting Hill.
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Where is Notting Hill in London?
Notting Hill is located in West London. To be more specific, it’s located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
7 Things to do in Notting Hill, London
Did you know that Notting Hill is more than pastel-coloured buildings? Heh, it’s true! There are so many Notting Hill tourist attractions, I don’t even know where to start! Nevertheless, here’s my shortlist of things to see and activities worth adding to your itinerary:
1 - Buy unique items at Portobello Market
Of course I’m starting the list with the famous Notting Hill market, duh! Without a doubt, the most popular street in the district is Portobello Road, the place that hosts Portobello Market as well (also known as Portobello Road Market).
In fact, Portobello Market is actually several markets in one, as follows:
- the fruits and vegetable market offers the best in fresh produce as well as artisan cheeses and bread.
- the second-hand flea market is where you can find second-hand clothing, jewellery, music, and books.
- and of course, the antiques. The Portobello Market may be most famous for its vast amount of antique shops and stalls.
With over a thousand stalls, you can easily plan on spending the entire day here roaming between them. Technically, the market is open six days a week, but really you need to visit on a Saturday when the market is in full swing. This is the only day when all of the antique arcades are open as well.
Portobello Market hours: The market opens at 8:00 AM and goes until around 6:30 PM. There is limited parking in the area, so I advise you to plan on arriving early or take public transport.
2 - Explore the numerous Notting Hill book shops
This may seem like an obvious thing to do for anyone who is a fan of the Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant movie! However, Notting Hill really does have quite a few delightful book shops.
Although the book shop in the film Notting Hill is fictional, you can visit the book shop in which it was filmed. The book shop’s name in real life is The Notting Hill Book Shop – easy to remember, right? The shop is iconic now and a popular tourist destination. Another crowd-favourite book shop to check out is Lutyens & Rubinstein.
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3 - Join the Notting Hill Carnival
Notting Hill Carnival is one of Europe’s largest street festivals, attracting over a million visitors every year.
Here are some facts about Notting Hill Carnival: The carnival started in the 60s with humble origins as a way to celebrate the culture and diversity of the area. The event is held every August over a two-day period, a Sunday and a Bank Holiday Monday. In 2021, the Carnival takes place on August 29th and 30th.
The Carnival is one of the most popular Notting Hill events and it’s a celebration of West Indian culture. If you decide to join, expect the streets to be packed with bands playing reggae and food stalls serving curries and jerk chicken. There is certainly no shortage of food, drink, and music!
Growing up, Notting Hill Carnival was one of the highlights of my year, so if you happen to be in the city during this time, it is definitely worth planning your trip around it. The entirety of Notting Hill is taken over with Caribbean beats, street dancing, food stalls and the parades.
TIP: If you’re hoping to carry on partying into the night, make sure you check out which venues are hosting after parties and book your tickets ahead of time.
4 - Grab a beer at Churchill Arms pub
Churchill Arms pub and restaurant can only be truly appreciated in person. The pub has an elaborate display of flowers spanning the entire exterior of the brick building.
The pub has a pretty substantial budget that they spend just on flowers every spring. It is truly breathtaking if you ask me! Plus, inside the pub, you’ll find a Thai restaurant. They claim that it is the first London pub to have a Thai restaurant inside, so you might as well give it a go!
5 - Visit some of the art galleries
If you are a fan of art, then you are in luck! There are plenty of galleries for art enthusiasts to peruse in Notting Hill, which has long been considered an artsy area and home to many London based artists as well. Some amazing galleries to check out while you’re in the area include Portobello Arts Club and Calken Gallery. And for those with more of a taste for contemporary, Graffik is a premier urban art destination.
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6 - Take a picture in front of the colourful houses
Is there anything more charming than a row of colourfully, pastel-painted houses? There is certainly no shortage of this in Notting Hill! No need to waste any time and search for these yourself, here’s exactly where to find the best photo locations in Notting Hill:
- St. Lukes Mews is a wonderful street that was featured in Love Actually and lives up to its cinematic hype.
- Eldin Crescent – if you’re looking for those Easter egg pastel hues and charming architecture. This street hosts houses dating back to the 1800s, so there’s plenty of historic charm here and lots of content creation opportunities!
- Lancaster Road – if you like your houses with a bolder burst of colour.
- Callcott Street and Hillgate Place are also worth adding to your list.
7 - Catch a movie at the Electric Cinema
Luxurious chairs, traditional decor and a great selection of movies – this is what you’ll get if you decide to spend a couple of hours catching a movie at the Electric Cinema. Trust me, this place is a real hidden gem in Notting Hill, located right on Portobello Road! After the movies, you can stay a bit longer and grab a meal at their Electric Diner – one of the best places to go if you’re in the mood for an American meal!
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Notting Hill tours
You know how much I love my tours and I couldn’t omit them from this guide to Notting Hill either! In case you want to delve deeper into everything that Notting Hill has to offer, why not take some organised tours? There are tons of options to choose from if you think that taking a walk with a professional guide is the right choice for you:
- Notting Hill Walking Tour
- Notting Hill Rom-Com Walking Tour
- Highlights of London Private Tour – Downtown, Notting Hill & Portobello Market
- Half-Day Tour in Notting Hill and Portobello Market
- Food & Wine Tour in Notting Hill
- Instagrammable photos in Notting Hill
- Notting Hill Taxi Tour in London
- Full-Day Cooking Class With Food Shopping Tour Of Portobello Market
Where to stay in Notting Hill
In case you fell in love with Notting Hill already, you might want to consider booking your place here for your London trip! This way you’ll be close to all the action in this neighbourhood and you’ll also be very close to the centre of the city as well.
Here’s my hand-picked list of hotels in Notting Hill:
LUXURY. The Portobello Hotel
BOUTIQUE HOTEL. The Laslett
MID-RANGE. The Distillery
BUDGET. Ravna Gora
ENTIRE APARTMENT. Lovely 2 bedroom apartment in Notting Hill
Where to eat in Notting Hill
Hungry? No worries, you’ll find no shortage of cafes, bars, and restaurants here! Notting Hill has a plethora of amazing restaurants serving international cuisines from all over the world. And if you’re not sure exactly what you’re craving or if you’re looking for some never-failing food options, I’ve got some recommendations of Notting Hill restaurants for you:
- The Fish House of Notting Hill – looking for some authentic British fish and chips? This is your place!
- Mazi – if you’re craving some Greek dishes;
- Electric Diner – to experience eating in a traditional American diner;
- Natoora Counter – a good place for brunch;
- Taquería – one of the best restaurants in Notting Hill for Mexican food;
- Farm Girl Cafe – A picture perfect venue with instagrammable coffees and lattes;
- The Tin Shed – for wine and sweets;
- Tonkotsu – in case you’re craving some amazing ramen;
- The Ledbury – the pinnacle of fine dining in London.
How to get to Notting Hill
The good news is that, like in the rest of London, it’s extremely easy to get to Notting Hill – you can either take the tube or the bus. If you’re coming by tube, the following stops will leave you right in this neighbourhood: Notting Hill Gate, Westbourne Park, Ladbroke Grove, Bayswater and Queensway. It all depends on which line you choose to take (Central, District or Circle). You can also take the train until Shepherds Bush, then walk for about 20 minutes (or just take the central line tube from there).
I hope you enjoyed my Notting Hill neighborhood guide! I have collected all the best bits and advice about this charming little area in London in this post – anything from unmissable things to do, where to stay, what to eat and how to get there. In short, everything you need to know is here!
If you are travelling to London, Notting Hill is a must-see. It is the perfect place to spend a weekend getting lost in the vibrant city streets and sampling the district’s culture. So go and get lost in those colourful streets and maybe even put the phone down from taking photos long enough to soak in all that Notting Hill has to offer. You won’t regret it.
Interested to find out more? If the answer is “Yes!” and you want to read my other in-depth guides about London’s neighbourhoods, I recommend clicking here.