Whether you're looking for a stop-off after Notting Hill Carnival or you're banking on finding gastro pubs in London with a bit of class, this list of Notting Hill bars and pubs should help you there. Bars hosting international music acts and laid-back pubs can sit within a mile of each other. Read our guide to the best bars and pubs in Notting Hill to find the perfect place for all kinds of nights out in London.
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This popular Portobello Road basement bar calls itself a tiki bar, but the hilariously dodgy decor resists simple categorisation. It looks like a suburban-American rumpus room c1964; even Alan Partridge might find it a bit much. But underneath the thick layer of kitsch is a very good cocktail bar. Staff go to great lengths to make sure you order the right drink for you, and the bartenders know their business. They also spin a great ’60s playlist.
The Portobello Star is the home of the incredible Portobello Road gin, and gin (of numerous brands) takes pride of place on the drinks list. But there’s much more on the quaintly old-fashioned menu (which includes elaborate discourses on the origins of the drinks). The room is good-looking, long and thin, with a mirrored and wall-tiled alcove at the back with banquette seating.
Venue says: “Fancy learning a little about rum? Then join us for our weekly 'Rum Chronicles' masterclass.”
There surely can’t be a more jolly place to drink in Notting Hill: colourful wooden wall-slats and furniture fill the upstairs bar, and down in the party-time basement there’s good reggae, very friendly staff and rum, rum and more rum.
Dedicated to polymorphic pleasures of very much an arts-based kind, this scruffily chic basement centre is home to – among other regular events like RoTa and Radio Gagarin – YoYo, which is still rammed every Thursday after almost a decade of programming hip hop, garage/grime, dubstep and bassline-heavy acts.
Venue says: “Spoil yourself without spoiling yourself at 'London's healthiest restaurant'. Vegan, alcohol-free, sugar-free, wheat-free. But still fun.”
Okay, so there's no booze at the bar, but Redemption Bar fits in to Notting Hill very well, thanks to a raw food menu to complement the alcohol-free cocktails.
Owner Tom Conran was a gastropub pioneer, and the Cow continues to serve fine, pricey, fish-oriented food in its upstairs restaurant. Eating in the smallish downstairs bar is a different proposition: seating is pub-style (small round tables, banquettes and stools); the short menu is chalked on a blackboard, and no reservations are taken. It’s unpretentious, with drinkers at the front putting away well-poured Guinness and a good selection of Belgian and other beers, while diners at the back enjoy some fine food and a boho west London vibe.
Whatever the price and quality of the gastropub fare (pork belly and mash for a tenner, roasted root risotto at £7.50), this is a proper Portobello local. The majority of the jolly, bohemian-minded punters hanging around the pleasingly sparse, open-plan interior – probably at the bar – seem cheerfully merry whatever the time of day, which istestament of sorts to the agreeable atmosphere cultivated by the matey staff.
There’s a hint of gastropub-by-rote to the large, corner Bonaparte, but the formula is rendered well. It’s a big, bare-bricked, high-ceilinged space but not an unwelcoming one, with picture windows inviting an egalitarian mix of men and women inside for evenings of friendly chat over a glass of something cold. In both the lunch and the dinner menus, the starters (grilled squid, butter bean and chorizo stew; squash purée, goat’s curd and toasted pine nuts with pitta bread) display a little more spontaneity than the mains, but it’s all good stuff, with prices about what you’d expect given the postcode.
First, you’ll see a sturdy pub, occupying the corner of Portobello Road and Westbourne Grove. Within, there are partitioned areas done out in neat, shiny wood and interconnected by chest-high doorways. The curiosities lie further back: one room is somewhere between a gentlemen’s club and a tearoom at a honeymoon resort, a lounge that seems more suited to toast and coffee than pie and a pint. Among the photographs – past carnivals, touched-up images of Portobello Market – is another oddity: a wall honouring the man after whom the pub is named, the so-called Yellow Earl, who is most famous as the founder of the AA.
Find Notting Hill restaurants
Brimming with great cafés and restaurants, Notting Hill will always have the perfect meal to suit both your tastebuds and budget. From simple fish and chips at The Fish House to modern cuisine at the Notting Hill Brasserie, find Notting Hill restaurants for when you're in this desirable part of town.
There's plenty of pedigree to this south London boozer – once upon a time it was called the Oxford Arms, and it played host to the likes of Dire Straits and Squeeze. These days, live music still plays an important part. That means gigs from Thursday to Sunday every week, plus there are open mic nights every Wednesday. There's variety, too – expect anything from blues, ska and folk to hardcore punk and alt-rock. Probably best to keep an eye on listings, then. Outside of the music there are monthly art exhibitions at their own 'Undercurrents Gallery', alongside a keenly priced daily food menu featuring dishes such as Thai pumpkin soup, Greek salad, chilli con carne, chickpea and spinach curry and a range of burgers. And if you miss the train home? There's a hostel upstairs.
Venue says: “Live music and art on most days every week. Delicious selections of burgers and Sunday roasts. For more info, visit our website.”