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December 2020 / Area Guides / by Liz Skone James

Notting Hill

Home to the world’s second biggest carnival and the famous Portobello Road market, this west London neighbourhood is one of the most eclectic and colourful in the Capital (attested to by the pretty pastel coloured properties that characterise the area). Grand garden squares, hugely desirable housing, sophisticated dining and high-class shopping add to the appeal.

Photography by Emmanuelle Peri & Georgia Watson

MEET THE LOCALS

Liberty Venn, Founder of the Children’s Book Project

“My day usually starts with a run around Holland Park – I don’t go far because it’s a bit hilly, though there’s usually lots of distractions to alleviate the pain. Afterwards, I’ve earned a coffee. The best locally is from Fabrique Bakery on Portobello Road (and their cinnamon buns are insanely good). I get takeout and walk to Colville Square or back up towards Notting Hill Gate. Another favourite stroll is to Meanwhile Gardens, off Kensal Road. There’s a beautiful wilderness garden; many years ago our kids used to hunt for tadpoles in the pond there. A little further away, Wormwood Scrubs is great for a wander. The sky feels so big there, particularly this summer when there were fewer people around. Come lunchtime, I regularly treat myself to Merguez and lentils from the final Moroccan stand on Golborne Road (outside Café O’Porto). For something a bit different, if you’re early enough to find a seat, Books for Cooks do a great value fixed lunch menu (I challenge you to leave without buying a cookbook). I spend a lot of time (in observational mode only!) at BAYSIXTY6 Skate Park under the Westway, and on those days I’ll grab lunch at the market. Shopping-wise, there’s nothing you can’t get locally: from bric a brac on Golborne Road to completely the other end of the spectrum in the designer boutiques on Westbourne Grove. For books, I usually go to Lutyens & Rubinstein: the staff are incredibly friendly and know everything there is to know about their brilliant stock. Alternatively, a walk up to Daunt Books on Holland Park Road via Clarendon Road is always a treat. In the evening, you might find me tucking into The Cow’s pint of prawns or enjoying dinner at JOY at Portobello Dock.

The Children’s Book Project is a charity that works across the Capital to redistribute thousands of new and gently used books to children and their families (childrensbookproject.co.uk)


The Notting Hill Carnival attracts crowds of 2 million plus, making it Europe’s largest street festival and 11 times the size of Glastonbury Festival. Annually it contributes around £93 million to the Capital’s economy – pretty impressive when you consider that the first carnival was organised by activist Rhaune Laslett in 1966 as a local fête to bring different cultures from the local community together.


TAKE THREE
Street hearts

Hillgate Street
Tucked away behind Notting Hill Gate itself, we love the pastel-coloured houses here. And with its great British menu and selection of real ales, The Hillgate pub is worth a visit

St Luke’s Mews
Pretty mews are the order of the day on this postcard perfect cobbled street. You might recognise one particular house and its hot pink front door from scenes in Love Actually

Ledbury Road
Fashionistas and foodies will want for nothing on this trendy thoroughfare that’s simply packed with high-end designer boutiques, buzzy bars and acclaimed restaurants

RECOMMENDED
Local heroes

Authentic local eateries
While Notting Hill is renowned for its colourful houses and vibrant market, the area’s rich cultural heritage, and specifically its food offering, is embedded into the neighbourhood, says Chestertons’ Zara Wright. For the estate agent, a number of authentic local eateries deserve a shout out here. “Many small businesses continue to keep the area alive,” she says, “from Garcia’s Spanish market and Makan café, both located on Portobello Road, to Jay Dee’s Caribbean street food takeaway on Lancaster Road, and Persian restaurant Hafez on Hereford Road… all display the rich diversity of the area.”

Ottolenghi, W11
“The eponymous film may have given this unique quarter of London global exposure and fame, but for locals there has always been nowhere quite like Notting Hill – and there’s nowhere quite like Ottolenghi,” says Rosy Khalastchy from Beauchamp Estates. “It’s always bright and fresh, in both appearance and taste! It’s one of  my favourite foodie destinations, ever: always a pick-me up, whether eating in or taking home for a sumptuous supper.” With its delectable lunch menu and to-die-for daily cake selection, we couldn’t argue with that.
63 Ledbury Road, W11 (020 7727 1121; ottolenghi.co.uk)

The Tabernacle, W11
This imposing Grade II listed former church is one of Notting Hill’s most iconic buildings. Now a much-loved cultural hub, it serves as an entertainment venue, art gallery, bar and kitchen, and even a music studio for local talent. Di Gong of Benham & Reeves tells us it has proved a lifeline for W11 residents, especially during the pandemic. “It’s a great place to relax and enjoy great food and drink,” he says, “and the garden courtyard is a real bonus, providing ample room for social distancing.” Here’s to seeing The Tabernacle back to full buzz soon.
34-35 Powis Square, W11 (020 7221 9700; tabernaclew11.com)