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Notting Hill area guide

Check out Portobello Road Market and discover great cinemas, restaurants, bars and pubs in W11

Notting Hill is so much more than just the setting for a famous movie. It plays host to Europe’s biggest street festival, is brimming with fashionable restaurants, bars and shops, and is home to one of London’s best markets: Portobello Road Market.

Attracting countless thousands of people to its quirky backstreets and pretty gardens, Notting Hill is the perfect place to spend a weekend. Whether you’re into shopping, eating, film, or just people watching, it’s a great area to lose a few hours (or even a whole day and night) in.

What are your favourite Notting Hill haunts? Let us know in the comments.

The best bits of Notting Hill

Five historical things to look out for in Notting Hill
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Five historical things to look out for in Notting Hill

You might be tempted to swing by Notting Hill just to snap the colourful townhouses or take a quick stroll down Portobello Road – but history likes to remind us that this affluent area wasn't always this desirable. In the 1800s it was a slum and centre for brick and tile production. Despite the wealthy James Weller Ladbroke starting to develop its rural surroundings, it never took off like Mayfair or Belgravia. In fact, it only really shook off the run-down image in the 1980s, and its popularity was helped along the way by Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts and that famous blue door. Here are five things to look out for the next time you're in the area. Photo by Look Up London 1. Portobello Road pioneers Notting Hill's most famous street began life as a rural lane and gets its name from Puerto Bello, a settlement in Panama that traded treasure with Spain. In 1739 the British Navy were eyeing up this profitable port and it was captured by Admiral Sir Edward Vernon. As a market, Portobello Road only really kicked off when trading hours were extended in 1927. A blue plaque claims Susan Garth, who ran the first antique shop in Red Lion Arcade, was the starting point that made the street 'an international institution'.  Photo by Look Up London 2. Pottery Kiln, Walmer Road Once known as 'the potteries', Notting Hill's clay deposits meant it was perfect for making bricks and tiles. The only reminder of this today (apart from the street name 'Pottery Lane') is a rare nineteenth-

Why a foodie should walk down Portobello Road
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Why a foodie should walk down Portobello Road

Portobello Road was once famous for its antique market, but it’s actually so much more. On Saturdays the road goes into full selling mode and party swing – you name it, you can find it: crafts, fashions, music, books, collectables, specialist antiques and bric-a-brac. Navigate through haggling crowds and you’ll also find plenty of food.     Popina’s vegetarian stall promises food artistry from the soul Vegan nosh and fresh coconuts  Pitches squeeze into the impossibly busy top end of the road and sprawl everywhere under and around the overpass. You’ll find every imaginable kind of food on sale. Popina has good-looking vegetarian and vegan food, but our pick of the bunch is the jelly nut stall. Coco-traders skillfully hack away at the end of the young coconuts and the final chop exposes a hole big enough to poke a straw through and suck up the delicious coconut milk. It’s a great tonic for £3. Burgers and ramen Boom Burger reminds us that Portobello is in the heart of London’s carnival district. Head here for boom tunes and explosive and vibrant Jamaican flavours. There’s also another branch of Honest Burgers worth checking out, while Electric Diner gets top marks for its Americana atmosphere and menu. As for ramen, Tokotsu is just off Portobello Road, and well worth the price for silky-smooth noodles in a rich and unctuous broth.   R Garcias & Sons – a Spanish grocer with real character       Polpo and paella A cluster of Spanish and Portuguese restauran

Restaurants in Notting Hill

The Ledbury
Restaurants Book online

The Ledbury

Few haute establishments have the hospitable hum of the Ledbury. Whether it’s due to the off-centre location, the Aussie input, or diners’ sheer delight in securing a table, this former pub remains top-tier for gustatory good times. British ingredients – Hampshire buffalo milk curd, smoked eel, Cumbrian lamb – line up alongside delicacies such as Tokyo turnips, Bresse chicken and black truffle, but it’s chef Brett Graham’s clever contemporary treatment of them that sets the place apart. Best go for the set lunch or commit to the mesmerising £105 tasting menu; at £80 for three courses, the carte does not have the other menus’ winning sense of value, particularly if you choose the simpler ingredient-led dishes. A spring plate of creamed Jersey Royals with morels cooked in tea would have been a delightful inclusion in a dégustation, but served as a starter was not sufficiently above mashed potato to justify the outlay, even though the mushrooms were sublime. Ledbury signatures, however, are consistently thrilling – particularly the flame-grilled mackerel with pickled cucumber, celtic mustard and shiso; and, well, all the desserts. The wine list is personable with a particularly good choice of sweet wines by the glass, plus great beers from Australia, the US and even Notting Hill. 

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Hereford Road
Restaurants Book online

Hereford Road

St John in Farringdon has become something of a culinary academy, sending its graduates out across the city to spread the word. Hereford Road is run by one of those nose-to-tail champions – head chef Tom Pemberton has taken his use-every-cut training to this moneyed part of west London. His restaurant makes its intentions clear: the first thing you see upon entering the long, narrow space is the kitchen; if it were any more open you’d be eating off the chefs’ laps. Food takes centre stage here – and what food it is. Sit and wonder how the restaurant can manage to serve two courses for £13 at lunch as you tuck into hearty dishes like devilled duck livers with shallots, brill with roasted cauliflower, or onglet and chips. The slightly fancier à la carte includes the likes of kid’s offal and mash, or lamb rump with purple sprouting broccoli; the most expensive main is still usually less than £17. Down a small flight of stairs is a no-frills dining room, with rather austere wooden furniture (try to bag a booth) and only a large woven mural as ornamentation. Service suits the environment – it’s quietly confident and refreshingly laid-back. A wonderful place.  

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Lowry & Baker
Restaurants

Lowry & Baker

The northern branch of the Notting Hill Tribe loves Lowry & Baker – so much so that one local advises against even trying to get in at the weekend. This is the kind of local café most people dream about: warmly welcoming and with a laid-back attitude that makes you feel immediately at home. Indeed, our local informant said: ‘It’s like being in your living room – staff talk to customers and customers talk to each other.’ L&B (which opened in summer 2010) has established itself as the leading local independent coffee shop with a small, reasonably priced menu of uniformly high-quality food: good soups, sandwiches, salads and sweet things worth crossing town for. The blueberry cheesecake and banana bread are heavenly. Food is served on a delightful jumble of unmatched crockery, while the expertly brewed coffee, made with beans from Monmouth, comes in well-warmed white cups.  

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Mazi
Restaurants

Mazi

This stylish addition to the capital’s Hellenic dining scene opened in 2012 in what used to be Costas Grill. Its food has more in common with the creations of leading Athens restaurants than anything you’d find in London – and the relief from the city’s Greeks is almost palpable. Purists might be troubled by the progressive presentation – mezédes are served in Kilner jars; tyrópitta is separated into filling and filo for DIY crumbling – but the flavours are reassuringly authentic. A jar of creamy white taramá hit just the right note of tangy, savoury deliciousness; another of fava (spilt-pea purée), accompanied by tender octopus, was so light it could have been whipped. Horiátiki contained top-quality oil and feta, properly ripe tomatoes, and (unexpectedly) Cretan-style rusk croûtons and salty capers. The hot dishes are better still. Keftédes were sublime and Mazi’s slabs of feta encased in black-sesame tempura with punchy lemon marmalade might well consign the humble saganáki to history. An all-Greek wine list showcases the region’s best bottles but on a Friday night, cocktails made with mastiha resin spirit were preferred by the gangs of young Greeks tightly packed either side of us in this fresh and contemporary dining room.  

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Notting Hill highlights

Portobello Road Market
Shopping

Portobello Road Market

Portobello is actually several markets stretched out up one long strip of road: antiques start at the Notting Hill Gate end; further up are food stalls; and emerging designer and vintage clothes are found under the Westway flyover and along the walkway to Ladbroke Grove. A visit here is as much about soaking up the vibe as it is about shopping. Saturdays are manically busy so head out early, especially if you’re serious about buying antiques. Friday is less hectic and one of the best days for sourcing clothes from up-and-coming fashion designers. Best of all are the fantastic shops lining the surrounding streets; escape the crowds with a browse round Ledbury Road’s boutiques.

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising
Museums

Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising

The Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising spans a 120-year period in the history of consumerism, culture, design, domestic life, fashion, folly and fate. It is presented as a magnificently cluttered time tunnel of cartons and bottles, toys and advertising displays.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Bars and pubs in Notting Hill

Portobello Star
Bars and pubs

Portobello Star


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. It can easily get crowded even on a weeknight, with mostly young Notting Hillbillies in search of strong, well-made drinks. We wish the stools weren’t quite so high and the climb to the loos not so steep (dangerous if you’ve had a few). But these are not serious complaints about one of west London’s true star bars. Upstairs is the ‘Ginstitute’, where you can book a course to find out all about London’s spirit (and even make some yourself).

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Trailer Happiness
Bars and pubs Buy tickets

Trailer Happiness

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 circa 1964; 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. On weekdays, even though there can be sizeable crowds, you’ll be okay without booking. The semi-private room at the back is great for larger groups; the booths near the entrance are cosy, but have cramped leg-room.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Cow
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Cow

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, down to the anti-decor red lino and the yellowing ceiling, 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. Again, seafood takes centre stage, with oysters, whelks and winkles, and prawns by the pint. Tiger prawns, for a starter, were big and juicy, served in an unashamedly rich sauce. But the star attraction was fish stew with rouille and croûtons: mussels, salmon, little bits of fish in batter, all packed into a heavily flavoured, dark, dense and soupy sauce, dotted with little flakes of chilli (the rouille also packed some chilli heat) – a sumptuous version of a classic. Tagliolini with crab, tomato and chilli was also a winner: a generous amount of crabmeat, subtly warm with chilli, served with pasta cooked precisely al dente. The likes of steak and sausages round out the bar menu. Staff were charming.  

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Prince Bonaparte
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Prince Bonaparte

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. The Bonaparte also serves the drinker well: ales from Sharp’s (Own, Doom Bar, Cornish Coaster) feature on the low, half-moon bar counter, along with Moretti, Camden Hells Lager and Sagres; there are more than a dozen wines by the glass and around 40 by the bottle.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Book online
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Hotels in Notting Hill

The Laslett

The Laslett

Right by Notting Hill Gate tube, stuffed with British furniture and artworks, the Laslett was a terrific addition to the area. There's a laudable commitment to local products across the hotel's five interconnecting townhouses (you'll find London-based Sipsmith gin, Workshop Coffee and Joe's Tea), as well as a fine lobby bar and a library of arty books. The rooms have Big - not mini - bars, classic Penguins for bedtime reading and smellies from Neal's Yard Remedies.

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6 Portobello Road

6 Portobello Road

Excellently located at the foot of Portobello Road, No.6 is a London-brick townhouse that offers twice-weekly serviced apartments with white-tiled bathrooms and compact but fully equipped kitchenettes. The decor is simple but smart, in black and white, with a few concessions to flamboyance – oversized button-punch headboards, for instance. Room rates are cheaper if you book for a month and reception is just a key code for the door, but you can otherwise use the apartments like a hotel.

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The perfect weekend in Notting Hill

Buy: Portobello Road Market
Shopping

Buy: Portobello Road Market

Sift through antiques, vintage clothes and fascinating bric-a-brac

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Eat: Boom Burger
Restaurants

Eat: Boom Burger

Chow down on burgers with a Caribbean twist and cocktails

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
See: Trellick Tower
Attractions

See: Trellick Tower

Gawp in wonder at one of London’s most famous brutalist buildings

Drink: The KPH
Bars and pubs

Drink: The KPH

Grab a drink in one of the area’s oldest pubsand theatre bars

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars

Heading to Notting Hill Carnival?

Notting Hill Carnival guide
Music

Notting Hill Carnival guide

Dancing, music and masquerade – join the Carnival fun in Notting Hill this August bank holiday weekend

Notting Hill Carnival soundsystems
Music

Notting Hill Carnival soundsystems

Plan your party route with the Time Out Notting Hill Carnival soundsystem A-Z

A spotter's guide to Notting Hill Carnival
Music

A spotter's guide to Notting Hill Carnival

There are those who dance and those who get danced on. Win seven points if you spot a copper who’s perfected the bogle

Our top 10 Carnival anthems
Music

Our top 10 Carnival anthems

We pick ten tunes that have defined Carnival over the years…

Love London Awards: last year's winners

Fez Mangal
Restaurants

Fez Mangal

This compact, no-frills Turkish BYO on Ladbroke Groveis dominated by a huge charcoal grill. Deft hands move a line of hefty meat skewers (the main draw) hypnotically across its blistering surface, while billows of smoke disappear up into the cavernous copper hood. A spotless glass fridge, displays the daily variety of seasoned lamb and chicken, as well as whole sea bass or bream, and own-made doner kebabs make slow revolutions behind the counter. Scoop up simple vegetable dishes and dips, with heated slabs of flat bread while your meats sizzle. The succulent skewers come served on rice with a colourful trio of raw veg – carrots, purple cabbage and wild rocket (this is Notting Hill), or on bread, smothered in tomato sauce and sharp yoghurt. Turkish tea and baklava round off the meal. Tables turn fast with a friendly efficiency here. Though it can get busy even on a weekday evening, waits to be seated rarely last long, and a black board highlights an occasionally enforced table share policy.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Lowry & Baker
Restaurants

Lowry & Baker

The northern branch of the Notting Hill Tribe loves Lowry & Baker – so much so that one local advises against even trying to get in at the weekend. This is the kind of local café most people dream about: warmly welcoming and with a laid-back attitude that makes you feel immediately at home. Indeed, our local informant said: ‘It’s like being in your living room – staff talk to customers and customers talk to each other.’ L&B (which opened in summer 2010) has established itself as the leading local independent coffee shop with a small, reasonably priced menu of uniformly high-quality food: good soups, sandwiches, salads and sweet things worth crossing town for. The blueberry cheesecake and banana bread are heavenly. Food is served on a delightful jumble of unmatched crockery, while the expertly brewed coffee, made with beans from Monmouth, comes in well-warmed white cups.  

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Provenance
Shopping

Provenance

Provenance is a butcher’s shop in Notting Hill run by a bunch of young enthusiasts who gave up desk jobs to train as butchers and charcutiers. Struan Robertson is the founder, an alumnus of the School of Artisan Food in Welbeck, Nottinghamshire. The rest of the team – Tom Gibson, Guy Gibson, and Erin Hurst – are all Kiwis, which partly explains the grass-fed wagyu beef burgers from New Zealand that are flying out the doors in barbecue weather. A lot of the meats are value-added, such as marinated whole chickens and lamb kebabs, to offer what Struan calls ‘meal solutions’ for local shoppers (well, he is a former advertising man). The meats are all free range, the charcuterie supplied by British makers. Give it a look.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
The Muse Gallery
Art

The Muse Gallery

A gallery working specificall towards promoting the work of emerging artists.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
See the full results of last year's Love London Awards

Comments

2 comments
Richard C
Richard C

I thought you might be interested to watch the film, which shows how a group of passionate social reformers set about tackling the appalling housing conditions found in Notting Hill in the mid-1960s. Their vision led to the formation of Notting Hill Housing, an organisation which for the past 50 years has worked to provide decent and affordable homes for people in the area and beyond. Here’s the link:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1vcLoJnmsQ


Alex B
Alex B

The Portobello Print and Map Shop is easily the best store in London's most famous antique market. With original antique prints and maps dating back to the seventeenth century, you can spend hours browsing their shelves and are guaranteed to find something unique and stunning to decorate your house with.