Portobello Road Market guide

It may be heaving with tourists, but Portobello Road Market is a London institution. It's crammed with antique dealers, vintage fashion stalls and retro memorabilia. Here's our guide to getting the most out of a trip there

  • Portobello Road Market guide

    Portobello Road Market © Ed Marshall

  • The lowdown


    The initial stroll from Notting Hill Station past the pastel-fronted terraces won’t prepare you for the seemingly endless line of vendors along Portobello Road. More than 2,000 specialist antique dealers are squeezed tightly into any available space, while avid enthusiasts bargain-hunt, camera-laden tourists look for that blue door (from the film ‘Notting Hill’) and jazz quartets all help to create a pleasing intimacy.

    Push on past the meagre pickings after Elgin Crescent and explore the fashion market under the Westway flyover. Best visited on a less-frantic Friday morning, it’s here you’ll find fashionistas and frighteningly trendy teens delving through troves of prized vintage, boutique fashion and retro memorabilia. Otherwise, you’ll find them posing in the Portobello Star, the newly refurbished traditional-boozer-meets-chic-cocktail-hangout.

    Don’t miss…
    Don’t cut Portobello short at the Westway; continue up until you hit Golborne Road. This is where you’ll find the real bargains away from the masses (a pair of Gina shoes were spotted on the day we visited). It’s lined by eccentric second-hand interiors stalls, and a custard tart from Lisboa Patisserie will see that you never queue for a cupcake again.

    Downside...
    Avoid arriving without plenty of cash: the only cashpoint along the main drag is always inaccessible due to outrageous queues. Similarly, don’t bother entering the Market Bar on a Saturday if you’re in need of a quiet sit-down away from the hordes outside – you’ll find it mobbed.

    Refuel at…
    Despite the guaranteed queue outside the Hummingbird Bakery , many travel far and wide for one of its coveted cupcakes. Grab a quick organic bite mid-rummage at Roly’s café in Portobello Green and don’t miss Ottolenghi on Ledbury Road for an upmarket salad selection.

    Portobello’s top stalls

    Decadent vintage
    You’ll soon see why this vintage clothing stall is called Decadent, lavishly decorated as it is with a few too many feather boas, but look past the fluff to find a wealth of beautifully handcrafted one-of-a-kind pieces. Based under the Westway (their stall often moves to different pitches), the feisty mother-daughter duo who run it specialise in selling a flock of heavily sequinned 1920s flapper dresses and bold 1980s prom gowns, all for bafflingly affordable prices.

    Portwine Arcade
    Set back from the throng of street traders, nestled next to the Portobello Star, is a signless crescent arcade harbouring unique and thrilling trade. Set apart from its sensible and starker older brother, the nearby Admiral Vernon Antique Market, Portwine exudes a warm familiarity with its busy interior, selling everything from musical instruments to headwear SHOPPING_PortobelloMarket_C_EdMarshall.jpg– with a sign urging you to ‘Try on for Fun!’.

    Military stall
    Situated opposite Portobello Green under the Westway, masked martial mannequins lure you inside this shop-like stall. On parade here are the sharp, masculine lines of original, pre-1914 jackets and excellent historical footwear and accessories – and the wartime brogues are bang on-trend.

     

     

    Insider tips


    Our insider

    Olivia Rubin, a fashion designer (www.oliviarubinlondon.com), who regularly visits Portobello Road market for buttons and trimmings, vintage clothing and ideas and inspiration.

    When should you visit Portobello Road?

    ‘Arriving about 10am on a Saturday morning gives you a chance to have a proper wander before the crowds arrive. It winds down about 4-5pm, although I always prefer to go in the morning – it’s more alive!’

    Top spots
    ‘Julia’s stall – she’s an artist who has an eclectic mix of vintage clothes, homeware and bric-a-brac that she hunts for at car boot sales. She’s based under the tent by the Westway. Kay’s brooch stand is a wonderful small stand at the top of the market in between Chepstow Villas and Elgin Crescent. She sells a vast variety of antique brooches and costume jewellery, mainly animal brooches – a great source of inspiration for my collections. At the back of the tent area is Buttons and Haberdashery, a stand that sells an array of vintage buttons, beads and embroideries that was my usual haunt when I was a student at Central Saint Martins.

    Goldie is an up-and-coming fashion label that makes handmade tops and dresses out of lace, chiffon and trimmings. Head to the fresh fruit and veg market at the end of the day for bargain boxes full of fruit for only £1!’

    What should you avoid?

    ‘Avoid the “new goods” section at all costs – with such a choice of vintage clothes and antiques it’s best to concentrate your time in these areas.’

    Top tips
    ‘Head to the Electric, one of my favourite brasseries, on Saturday after you’ve conquered the market. Its a great place to revive before heading up the road to explore antiques.’

    Portobello Rd, W11 (www.portobelloroad.co.uk). Notting Hill or Ladbroke Grove tube. 8am-6.30pm Mon-Wed; 8am-1pm Thur; 8am-6.30pm Fri, Sat.

  • Add your comment to this feature

Users say

18 comments
Appletree Boutique
Appletree Boutique

It's no wonder Portobello Road Market has become such a cult destination for tourists and locals alike - with its fascinating and eclectic range of antiques, vintage fashion, designer goods and food stalls from all over the world, it is the perfect destination for a relaxed afternoon! Other users are right, Fridays are always quieter (although not all the stalls are out). While you're here, make sure to stop at our womenswear fashion boutique: Appletree Boutique (shops 127 and 164 Portobello Road, W11 2EB) for a fresh new take on vintage classics and exciting prints, as well as a selection of quirky homeware! And if you can't wait, we also have our worldwide online store: www.appletreeboutique.co.uk We hope to see you there soon!

Mick Whittingstall
Mick Whittingstall

Hi, I am looking to set up a fresh fish and seafood pitch in notting hill. If any one can help that would be great ,

Geri
Geri

Hi, can you tell me if it is open on Tuesdays please?!

Annabel
Annabel

I head to Portobello every Friday in my lunch break. Much less hectic day to go and it's always so much fun rummaging through everything. My latest find is a vintage fur hat to keep out the cold in this Siberian weather. Just under the westway there is a guy selling second hand books. He is really knowledgable and makes great recommendations. Also, check out the falafel place just by Tesco. £3 for medium with lots of herbs. Enjoy!

Jéromine
Jéromine

Hi everybody !! I'm swiss and I'm coming from the 26th to the 29th of dECEMBER 2011 to London... My favourtie place is definitely Portobello Road and I was wondering if it's gonna be open, as it's just after Christmas ..?? Who knows ? I hope it'll be open cause I really really wanna go there ! :D

S
S

Just stumbled across the CHRISTMAS SUNDAY MARKET on Portobello Rd. It is a petit version of the Saturday market but it still has a good selection of all the stalls that I love. Fashion, jewellery, antiques and gifts of all descriptions with lots of things that have been made in England. Had a great Spanish lunch in Cafe Garcia. Great atmosphere and it is on for 3 more Sundays up to Christmas. Starts at Lancaster Rd towards the Westway.

David
David

Does anyone know of the name or # of the men's habadashery store on Portobello Road, on the left side of the street a few blocks away from the Underground station?

delphine
delphine

Is it open on a sunday? thanks

Pipa
Pipa

Hi, My daughter wants a chest of draws with character, wood, second hand, preferably not pine, and metal handles (all the specifics I can get). Any idea where I can look? All suggestions welcome. We live in London and don't have a car, but am happy to explore. Thanks.

KH
KH

Sh! Women' Erotic Emporium ( the legendary women's sex shop) has it's 2nd shop, in Portobello ( the entrance is actually on Lancaster rd - tres discreet! ) and its open everyday ( answer to Pauline above - there sure is! ;-) Same gorgeous toys, relaxed atmosphere, lots of advice and a cuppa tea whilst you browse... Guys welcome accompanied by a woman or on Gents Nites (tues)

paula
paula

I cant believe nobody has mentioned that friday is THE day for vintage clothing. Many vintage clothing dealers from all over the UK come to Portobello, under the Westway, to sell their amazing finds for reasonable prices. Stylists and fashion designers have been taking advantage of this for years!

Lee Mannion
Lee Mannion

I'd like to qualify my above comment by saying that (thanks to Time Out) we had to go in the Star on a Tuesday night to claim a free cocktail recently. It wasn't full of posers and sloanes (just some kids) and so we got to meet the owner Jake, who is a lovely man and mixes a mean cocktail. All of which made me feel bad about slagging it off above. I had one of Jake's own creations; the Sally Cinnamon and it is really delicious. So - Saturday night (like anywhere) is busy and noisy but I'm eating humble pie and saying its a great place for cocktail, particularly if you get 5 mins with Jake. As for Pauline's comment above, it gets busier as the week heads towards the weekend; Friday is a good day to come. Not too busy and still quite a bit going on. Can you guess that I live here?

Y
Y

What about Mimi Fifi? It sells amazing vintage toys with rockabilly/ rock n roll jewelery and accessories plus other amazing finds - there's always great music playing and you'll leave feeling all nostalgic :) It's on Pembridge road just on the walk down to or from Notting Hill Gate stn. Intoxica Records isn't to be missed either.

pauline
pauline

is it worth having a look during the week?? Or is there basically nothing there? Thanks

anna
anna

My top tip would be to seek out the 'Rosa Bloom' stall in the Portobello Green Market under the Westway flyover. She's a new arrival at the market on saturdays, her stall sells a gorgeous selection of burlesque accessories and treasures, all of which she designs herself. There are beautiful sequinned pasties (like nipple tassles but without the tassles!) and simply stunning handmade fascinators (she makes to order), plus a range of really unsual silver jewellery.

Lee Mannion
Lee Mannion

If you have to come on a Saturday, come early (traders set up from 8am) or come later (5pm onwards). If you come at all, come with patience; its hard to get anywhere fast. Luckily that means you can make plenty of stops along the way for food and drink. Foodwise there is a great Ghanian food stall and the Mexican under the westway (El Camino) is cheap and good. Although its mentioned above, forget the Portobello Star, it's full of posers and sloanes (yes, they do still exist) and it's expensive. The Gold, just up the hill from there is more rock n roll, locals go there, the atmosphere is usually lively and it feels more like a proper pub. Though if you dont like any of those, Google 'Portobello Rd pub' and take your pick as there are plenty to choose from.

nj
nj

Great guitar shop and reggae dealer on all saints road.

Zal
Zal

Don't forget the kids clothes shop, SASTI in the Portobello Green Arcade. Their stuff is amazing; and most of it is exclusive. We have to wash my little boy's shark print shirt when he's asleep, so that he can wear it every day!