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The Ultimate Guide to visiting Notting Hill

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Notting Hill may have become a household name thanks to that classic 1999 film, but this fashionable area of London was famous long before Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant came along.

With bright, multi-coloured townhouses, antique shops, vintage markets, and classic English pubs, Notting Hill is the quintessential London neighbourhood that shouldn’t be missed by any visitor in London.

Today Notting Hill may be one of the trendiest neighbourhoods to live in London, but no less than 50 years ago the area was a massive slum, and was considered to be a “no-go-zone” among London locals. It wasn’t until the first Notting Hill Carnival in 1965 when Notting Hill’s popularity exploded, and soon rich and famous celebrities as well as artists started moving to the area.

Every August Bank holiday weekend, hundreds of thousands of people flock to the area for The Notting Hill Carnival, which is the largest street party in Europe and the second biggest carnival in the world (after Rio’s Mardi Gras).

Notting Hill is also home to the most famous street market in London (Portobello Market), which boasts over 1,500 dealers selling everything from antique items, vintage clothes, jewellery, artwork and furniture.

Notting Hill Rainbow
Notting Hill Farmers Market
Notting Hill Architecture
Notting Hill Electric Cinema
Tourists at Notting Hill London
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Notting Hill Highlights

Just strolling around Notting Hill is a tourist activity in itself. From snapping photos of the gorgeous colourful townhouses, sitting outside a café and watching locals shop at Portobello Market, or even just admiring the expensive cars parked outside celebrity homes, ever nook and cranny of Notting Hill offers a little something for everyone.

But if you’re looking for things to do in Notting Hill, here are some of the best tourist activities you can try while you’re in the area:

  • Shop for vintage clothing at the Portobello Market
  • Snap a photo of the iconic door from the Hugh Grants and Julia Roberts film Notting Hill at 280 Westbourne Park Road (although the blue door as it is seen in the film is now painted black).
  • Dress up in your wackiest outfit and party it up with hundreds of thousands of other people at the Notting Hill Carnival.
  • Climb up Primrose Hill during sunrise or sunset to get some stunning views of the London skyline.
  • Watch a theatre performance at The Gate Theatre.
  • Sip on a cocktail and listen to some live music at The Tabernacle.
  • Learn more about some of the best-known brands and advertisements in the world at the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising.
  • Watch a classic film at the Electric Cinema (which is one of the oldest working cinemas in the UK).
  • Watch some live music or get your boogie on at the Notting Hill Arts Club.
  • Have a picnic on a sunny afternoon in Ladbroke Square.
  • Check out some urban art at Salon Contemporary or Graffik, or marvel over fascinating sacred art at the Temple Gallery.
  • Shop for organic produce and baked goods at the Notting Hill Farmer’s Market.
  • Go ghost hunting at the Coronet cinema.
  • Go to a reggae or punk concert at one of the many music venues in Ladbroke Grove.

Special Tips

tip

Because the area is popular among celebrities, always keep an eye out as you never know who you'll be walking past during a visit to Notting Hill. Kate Moss and Sienna Miller have been spotted shopping around Portobello Road, and Jude Law and Kate Moss are known to visit Primrose Hill as well

tip

If you want to avoid the busy crowds, try to visit Notting Hill on a Sunday.

tip

If you're visiting the Notting Hill Carnival, you may want to book your hotel well in advance as rooms get booked up quickly (especially if you want to stay in the area).

Getting There

getting there

Address

Notting Hill Gate, London W11 3HT, United Kingdom (See map).

getting there

By Tube

The stations located in Notting Hill are Notting Hill Gate (via the Central, Circle and District lines), Westbourne Park (via the Hammersmith and City line), Ladbroke Grove (via the Hammersmith and City line), Bayswater (via the District and Circle lines) and Queensway (via the Central line).

getting there

By Train

The nearest station is Shepherds Bush, which is about a 17-minute walk away.

getting there

By Bus

You can reach Notting Hill/Portobello Market via routes 7,12, 23, 27, 28, 31, 52, 70, 94, 328 and 452.

Visiting Notting Hill

There are toilet facilities at Notting Hill Gate, Lonsdale Road and Portobello Road which cost £0.20 per use), as well as at the Tabernacle (during business hours). Temporary toilet facilities are set up during the Notting Hill Carnival, however be prepared that these cost around £2 per trip. And of course, you can always use a toilet facility at one of Notting Hill’s many pubs, bars, restaurants or cafés, but you will need to pay for something beforehand.

If you want to grab a bite to eat during your visit, Notting Hill boasts a variety of restaurants offering every type of cuisine you can think of, ranging from English, Spanish and Portuguese cuisine, to pan-Asian tapas, Italian diners and much more.

If you plan on visiting the Notting Hill Carnival, be aware that some underground stations may be temporarily shut, and there will also be street closures as well. The best spot to view the Notting Hill Carnival parade is by the judge’s platform, or obviously a front-row spot on the main route.

Try to put your mobile, cash and credit cards in a safe and secure place, as the area is prone to pick-pockets, especially at the Portobello Road Market or Notting Hill Carnival.

Hotels in Notting Hill

Some of the most exquisite and luxurious hotels can be found in Notting Hill and its surrounding areas, so be prepared to spend a fair chunk of change because of it.

The Portobello Hotel is favoured among celebrities, and the Europa House Hotel is as elegant as Notting Hill gets. There are also several hotels located on Pembridge Gardens (such as the Abbey Court Hotel and the Pembridge Gardens Hotel), and there’s a handful located near the Bayswater and Queensway underground stations (like Hotel Bluebells, Kensington Court Hotel and Palace Court Hotel).

If you’re on a budget, the New Linden Hotel, the Garden Court Hotel, the Twenty Nevern Square Hotel, and Rushmore Hotel are all good options. There’s also some hostels in the area like St. Christopher’s Inn Shepherd’s Bush Hotel, Smart Hyde Park View Hostel, and Notting Hill Hostel, all of which offer great deals on private rooms and dorm beds.

 

When to Visit

Notting Hill is known to be one of the most expensive areas in London, so be prepared to spend a good penny if you want to dine at a fancy restaurant, or sip on cocktails at a bar. Although there may be the odd budget café or takeaway, be prepared to spend around £20 per person when eating out.

The majority of the stores are open between Monday to Saturday during regular business hours, however some may close on Sundays. Coffee shops, on the other hand, usually open earlier (around 7 a.m.).

The Portobello Market is free for anyone to enter, and is open on:

  • Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
  • Thursdays (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
  • Fridays and Saturdays (9 a.m. to 7 p.m.)

Saturdays are always the busiest (because it’s the main antiques trading day), but if you want to avoid the crowds then try to arrive before 11:30 a.m. The street market is closed on bank holidays, Christmas Day and Boxing Day (December 26th), but is open on Good Friday.

If you plan on going to the Notting Hill Carnival, the floats and bands generally set off at 9 a.m. on both Sunday and Monday mornings, and run until 7 p.m.

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