Best Things to Do in Notting Hill: A Guide to London’s Prettiest Neighborhood
If you live in London, you are generally from West London or from East London. The city is simply so large that if you live in one part, you will not get to the other part every day. I stayed in East London, but I tried to go to West London regularly to visit my favorite neighborhood there: Notting Hill!
I love going to Notting Hill on a Sunday and strolling along the avenues with colorful houses and vintage shops, getting brunch in a hip café and fantasizing that one day I’ll be able to afford a beautiful Victorian mansion. Take a look at all the best things to do in Notting Hill in this ultimate guide!
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History of Notting Hill
Notting Hill probably started as a hamlet in Saxon times, which can be deduced from the name. The first mentions of Notting Hill, however, date from the 14th century, when it was a village outside of London. Notting Hill became famous around the 18th century for its brickyards and pig farms. The soil, with its high clay content, turned out to be fertile soil for these two industries.
Becoming a neighborhood of London
Notting Hill remained a small village until London, in the first half of the 19th century, swallowed it up in its drive for expansion. It was designed by great landowner James Weller Ladbroke as a neighborhood for wealthy Londoners. The real rich, however, initially continued to live more in the center. It was the well-to-do middle class who moved to Notting Hill. They wanted to experience the same wealthy lifestyle for a lower price. Artists were also attracted to the neighborhood.
Notting Hill was hit fairly hard during the war. This ensured that the flat-bombed houses were rebuilt, but this time as a shared living space to accommodate the growing immigrant population. The poor immigrants were exploited by their landlords, and the buildings were reminiscent of slums at some points. In the mid-20th century, the neighborhood was poor and full of racial violence against immigrants by white residents.
Notting Hill Today
In the 1960s, the standards of living in Notting Hill were used to introduce new housing laws that would offer tenants better protection and increase the quality of rental properties. Since the 1980s, the neighborhood has been on the rise again in terms of popularity. The film Notting Hillwith Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant from 1999 made the district known to a worldwide audience. If you want to visit the house from the film, you will find it on 280 Wilbourne Street. The neighborhood is now one of the most expensive places in England to buy a house.
10 Things to Do in Notting Hill
1. See St Luke’s Mews
One of the nicest things in London is the “mews” that are hidden between the avenues of mansions. The mews are usually cute and colorful. They used to be the stables for the horses of the rich residents who lived a little further away.
In Notting Hill you have a number. I think St Luke’s Mew is the nicest one. You might recognize it from Love Actually (you know, with the declaration of love with the signs). The houses may look lovely, compact, and overgrown with ivy, but don’t be fooled: you go house hunting here for less than 2 million euros.
2. Find the colorful houses
If you are looking for streets that look like they have collided with a rainbow, you will be attracted to Notting Hill. For example, go to Lancaster Road, Denbigh Terrace, or the famous Portobello Road. If you just wander around a bit near the last one, you’ll find plenty of them!
3. Get a drink at Churchill Arms
This is perhaps the most famous pub in all of London, and anyway: you can hardly ignore it when you visit Notting Hill. The pub has certainly existed since the 19th century. In the winter it has striking Christmas decorations, and in the rest of the year you can marvel at the many plants and flower arrangements. Inside the pub you will find an ode to Winston Churchill, after whom the pub was named after WWII.
4. Walk around Hyde Park
Well, technically, Hyde Park is not in Notting Hill, but it’s on the border. It is so close that you can easily walk to it. And when you are there, you just have to do that. This is a gigantic park that has been owned by the Royal Family since 1536.
5. Attend the Notting Hill Carnival
If you are lucky enough to be at Notting Hill in August, you will have the chance to be present at the Notting Hill Carnival. This two-day event is one of the largest street parties in the world. The event is a celebration of Caribbean culture and originated in response to racist tensions against this population group in the late 1950s. The event grew from just two street bands and 500 visitors to the party that it is today with two million visitors.
6. Shop along Portobello Road
The best known street in Notting Hill is Portobello Road. This long colorful street is full of original boutiques and vintage shops. Nice to stroll through. Also visit the Portobello Road Market, which mainly takes place on Saturdays. The market is the largest antique market in the world with over a thousand sellers.
7. Check out Notting Hill’s Bookshops
Notting Hill is known for its good bookshops, and not just because the main character from Notting Hill worked in a bookstore in the movie. In the film the store was called The Travel Book Shop, but nowadays the store is reopened as The Notting Hill Bookshop. Luytens & Rubinstein is another cool place. It’s a hybrid between a bookstore and a literary agency. Here you will only find the very best written books, regardless of their popularity.
8. Go antiquing at Alice
If you are looking for an antique shop that looks a bit like a curiosity cabinet with a vintage circus vibe, then Alice is the right place for you. I think this was also in the Paddington films, but I honestly wouldn’t know that. I always like to have a look here.
9. Shop at the Portobello Print and Map shop
As a travel blogger you may not be surprised that this is my favorite thing on Portobello Road. I always go inside for a moment. This shop sells original antique cards from all over the world. Super cool!
10. Go cafe hopping
If there is something fun to do in Notting Hill, then it is café hopping. The Biscuiteers is a favorite because of its cute appearance with the black and white canopy and French details. As the name suggests, this place is all about cookies (and cakes). You can also follow a workshop in which you learn to decorate cookies. Other nice cafés: Books for Cooks (including bookstore with cookbooks), Farm Girl (see below), and Fabrique (for the tastiest cakes).
Nicest Tours for Notting Hill
Notting Hill Walking Tour
How do you find out everything about a neighborhood? With a walking tour of course. I love it, because this way you end up in places you would never have come to, and you will understand more about the places you visit.
Where to Eat in Notting Hill
This is one of the hippest cafes in Notting Hill. There is room on a weekday, but you stand in line at the weekend. This is a good hotspot for healthy dishes and great photos for your Instagram. Fun fact: the beautiful blue tiles of this café were the background for the photo shoot for my site in 2016.
Granger & Co
This spacious restaurant with its large windows is also very popular. The name of this restaurant comes from its owner: Bill Granger, a famous Australian chef with restaurants in Sydney and Japan. It serves dishes with a high comfort food content. SUPER popular for brunch.
202 Westbourne Grove
We ended up here for brunch on a Sunday, since there was a good line for other restaurants. Here too there was a line, but it was a lot shorter. This is a restaurant / concept store that is popular with locals in the neighborhood. A beautiful open space, where the food is not particularly cheap, but tasty. I had the eggs Florentine and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.
Where to Stay in Notting Hill
- Abbey Court Notting Hill: You will find this hotel hidden in one of the many beautiful mansions in the neighborhood. The rooms are furnished with antique furniture, and the hotel is in a quiet area. The best choice for travelers who want a quiet hotel.
- The Portobello Hotel: Around the corner from the famous market from which the hotel owes its name. All hotel rooms are furnished on an individual basis and equipped with all conveniences. The best choice for travelers who want to stay in the middle of Notting Hill.
- The Laslett: The beautiful snow-white Victorian facade hides a luxury five-star hotel. The rooms have soft beds, wall art, and a rain shower in the bathroom. The best choice for luxury travelers.
Those were my best tips for Notting Hill, I hope it helps you plan a nice visit to this West London neighborhood.
What do you think are the best things to do in Notting Hill?
General Travel Tips
- For accommodation, I always check Airbnb or Booking.com for the best prices.
- If your insurance at home doesn’t cover travel, you may want to look into SafetyWing for an affordable option.
- I always recommend checking Get Your Guide for the best tours in Europe.