The borough of Notting Hill is West London’s pride and joy. It’s widely known for its antiques stalls at Portobello Market, the colourful Notting Hill Carnival, which takes place every August, and the Notting Hill movie starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. While many spend their time hunting for the film’s little blue house (to save you some time, it’s at 280 Westbourne Park Road), there’s so much more to discover than painted doors and antique trinkets. Follow this insider’s guide to Notting Hill to discover the best places to eat, drink and shop in the trendy neighbourhood, taking in local favourites such as gin lover’s paradise the Portobello Star, Michelin star restaurant, The Ledbury, and the trendsetting boutiques along Westbourne Grove.
It’s no secret that Londoners like their gin, especially in affluent neighbourhoods like Notting Hill. To try some of the city’s best, head to the Portobello Star. The bar serves an excellent selection of traditional and modern gin-based cocktails, but its crowning glory is the Ginstitute upstairs. An interactive museum of sorts, Ginstitute invites gin enthusiasts to take part in alcohol-fuelled masterclasses where they learn all about gin and how it’s made and flavoured. Guests can even make their own blend to take home.
Notting Hill’s multicultural past has resulted in an eclectic dining scene. Whatever type of cuisine takes your fancy – from Italian and Spanish to Mexican and Asian – you’re likely to find it here. However, for a special treat, nothing beats The Ledbury. The fine dining restaurant spearheaded by Chef Brett Graham holds two Michelin stars for its modern British menu, which champions the best of British produce. Guests can select from a four-course à la carte menu or an eight-course set menu featuring many of The Ledbury’s most celebrated dishes.
Slicing straight through the heart of Notting Hill, Westbourne Grove is the neighbourhood’s premiere shopping and leisure destination. Starting in style with the Paul Smith boutique on its most westerly point, the road features established brands like Sandro, Maje and Jigsaw alongside independent boutiques dedicated to fashion, accessories, jewellery and lingerie. It’s also a great place to pick up a bunch of flowers (check out Wild at Heart) or a piece of statement art – Debut Contemporary and Whitewall are two of Westbourne Grove’s leading galleries.
The younger, cooler sister of Westbourne Grove, Ledbury Road is a popular hangout of Notting Hill’s well-heeled millennials. Trendy fashion boutiques consume most of the street, interspersed with a smattering of see-to-be-seen restaurants such as Ottolenghi and Beach Blanket Babylon, where modern European cuisine is served against historic cave and chapel settings. Fit in with the locals by picking up a new outfit at a choice of Ledbury Road boutiques, such as Emma Hope, Penelope Chilvers and Matches Fashion.
As most people know the neighbourhood from the eponymous film, it makes sense to bring our guide to Notting Hill to a close at a picture house. Electric Cinema is one of the oldest working cinemas in London. Open since 1910, it has survived the neighbourhood’s transformation from rough diamond to real estate heaven. The cinema hosts a strong programme of new movies in a romantic setting where velvet-lined seating and waiter service makes moviegoers feel like the star of the show.