West London’s glamourous suburb Notting Hill was a much quieter place before the 1999 movie of the same name starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant burst onto the scene.
One of the key things to do in Notting Hill these days is to visit the bookshop that was apparently based on the travel bookshop that Hugh Grant owns in the film.
However there is much more to Notting Hill than a film location. This is a particularly foodie area of London and home to some fantastic restaurants, pubs and bars. Every Saturday the famous Portobello Market is held and every August the Notting Hill Carnival.
Inbetween there are loads of little quirky hidden gems and opportunities to take photos.
Here are my 14 Things to do in Notting Hill
14 Things to do in Notting Hill
Table of Contents
- 14 Things to do in Notting Hill
- 1. Learn How to Make London Gin
- 2. Have a Cupcake at the Hummingbird Bakery
- 3. Have a Pint at the Churchill Arms
- 4. Explore the Pastel Houses of Notting Hill
- 5. Eat Healthy
- 6. Go Antiques Shopping at Portobello Road Market
- 7. Eat Italian in Kensington Park Road
- 8. Get Cosy at the Electric Cinema
- 9. Enjoy a Notting Hill Brunch
- 10. Check Out Notting Hill’s Hollywood Highlights
- 11. Visit where it all started for Yotam Ottolenghi
- 12. Brush Up on your Marketing skills at the Museum of Brands
- 13. Trellick Tower
- 14. Take a Walking Tour
- Notting Hill Carnival
- Notting Hill Boutique Hotels
- The Laslett
- The Portobello Hotel
1. Learn How to Make London Gin
Did you know that it was illegal to distill Gin in small amounts in London before 2008? In 1720 the distilling of Gin was made legal in London.
This was to offset the popularity of French brandy – and the taxes being paid to France on this which was funding the French army. Well alas London went Gin mad.
Those who didn’t become alcoholics often ended up with serious health problems as there were no regulations around making gin or what went into the gin. A new law was brought in prohibiting the distilling of gin in anything under an 1800 litre still.
Anyway, luckily the team from my favourite London gin brand, Sipsmiths, took up the cause and had this law repealed in 2008.
Top Tip: Sipsmiths run a fantastic tour and tasting evenings at their distillery in West London.
Without Sipsmiths The Distillery would not exist. The Distillery is a three-storey Gin temple on Portobello Road in Notting Hill.
The ground floor of The Distillery contains the wonderfully titled The Resting Room bar. This cozy bar has a wall of very comfortable red leather booths in which we very happily sat.
What a menu in the Resting Room. It is pages of delicious and exciting sounding beverages. How about some butter gin?
There are many unique twists on well-known spirits at The Distillery – one thing I really liked about the menu was that they then suggest a cocktail which best suits that spirit flavour – can be a bit much to have something like this neat.
A couple of doors down from The Distillery is the Ginstitute. A three-hour session at the Ginstitute will educate you in all things gin. Once you have been filled in you will be invited into a blending room where you can sniff your way through a range of botanicals and choose your ideal mix.
These will then be used to make your own bespoke gin. In addition to leaving the Ginstitute with your personalised bottle of gin, gin cocktails are served throughout the session.
For a cost of £120 guests receive four gin-based cocktails, a bottle of personalised gin, and a bottle of Portobello Road Gin – fantastic value for money. This is one of the most unusual experiences in London that you can enjoy.
2. Have a Cupcake at the Hummingbird Bakery
The Hummingbird Bakery opened in 2004 in Notting Hill and brought American style cakes and desserts to London. At the time Sex and the City had made the world cupcake mad. Suddenly Londoners no longer needed to hop on a plane to try a red velvet cupcake.
Today, the Hummingbird Bakery has six branches across London but this is the original. And you still can’t beat their red velvet cupcakes.
3. Have a Pint at the Churchill Arms
The Churchill Arms is one of London’s most famous and most photographed pubs that is still populated by locals. This is one of the first pubs that I visited when I moved to London in 2002 and I was completely charmed by its kooky interior.
This London pub first opened in 1750 and of course at the time it was not called the Churchill Arms as the great man was not yet born. However, in the late 1800s Churchill’s grandparents became frequent visitors to the pub and after World War 2 it was renamed the Churchill Arms.
The pub is home to some fantastic Churchill memorabilia as well as many pots and pans which hang from the ceiling. The outside of the pub is covered in beautiful flowers – so beautiful it is one of the few pubs that has been a Chelsea Flower Show winner.
In the great English pub tradition, the Churchill Arms is also home to an excellent value Thai restaurants that is in the garden style area at the back.
Strictly speaking The Churchill Arms is actually in Kensington but as it is a five minute walk from Notting Hill Gate tube station I think it can be in this post!
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4. Explore the Pastel Houses of Notting Hill
Notting Hill is home to some of the cutest and most colourful streets in London. In Spring these streets come to life with cherry blossoms and wisteria and in Autumn they are home to the changing colours of fall.
Even if you aren’t visiting in these peak photography seasons the pastel houses and contrasting doors provide a good shots all year round.
Ledbury Road is full of pretty homes, including a much instagrammed pink doorstep. Portobello Road has a collection of colourful houses at the Notting Hill Gate tube end – if you’re heading to Farm Girl you’re in the right place.
Hillgate Street is a cross-section of roads with many cute pastel homes and a great pub The Hillgate. Farmer Street has both cute houses and cute VW vans. Lonsdale Road is home to pink doors and a pink VW bug.
Westbourne Grove has some non pastel beautifully coloured houses at the Notting Hill end (near Daylesford Organic).
Mews streets in the UK generally used to be stables. Today they are often home to very cute homes and cobblestone streets. In Notting Hill two mews streets not to miss are St Stephen’s and St Luke’s.
5. Eat Healthy
Notting Hill is home to some of the most wonderful healthy concept restaurants and eating venues in London. Daylesford Organic is a mouth-watering tribute to all things organic and local on Westbourne Grove.
The original Daylesford Organic is an organic farm in Gloucestershire. The farm is a whole new concept in healthy eating and relaxation. There is a large store filled with fresh food and stylish homewares. The restaurant “out the back” is glassed in and delicious.
There is a cooking school, a spa, nearby cottages to sleep in and a lovely nearby pub called The Wild Rabbit. This is the English countryside dream.
The Notting Hill location of Daylesford Organic has a large shopping area for scrumptious food and lovely home items plus a restaurant in the back.
When Farmacy opened in 2016 it was one of the first vegan restaurants in London. It specialises in delicious and innovative plant-based food. Everything served is biodynamic and locally sourced.
The highlight of Farmacy for me is the plant based High Tea this Notting Hill restaurant offers in the afternoon – it includes CBD truffles, tofu with truffles and traditional scones.
Farm Girl is tucked away just off Portobello road and also filled with vegan treats. They are best known for their all-day brunch and warm drinks. Try the famous pumpkin porridge with a liquid gold latte (turmeric, cinnamon, astralagus, honey and coconut milk).
6. Go Antiques Shopping at Portobello Road Market
Notting Hill is most famous for the Portobello Road Antiques Market which runs on Saturdays. The half mile Antiques market is the longest of its kind in the world. There are several permanent Antique shops on Portobello Road which are open during the week but the street really comes to life on a Saturday when it is also pedestrianised.
But Saturday in Portobello Road isn’t just about antiques. Head down the Portobello Road (away from Notting Hill Gate tube station) and you will find a fantastic food market with everything from fresh produce to jerk chicken ready to eat and sometimes the Distillery selling gin cocktails.
7. Eat Italian in Kensington Park Road
Kensington Park Road runs parallel to Portobello Road in Notting Hill. It is home to quite a few good restaurants but it has three Italian restaurants that all serve great food and have all been serving that great Italian food in Notting Hill for many years.
Osteria Basilico is the oldest of the three (established in 1992 which is forever ago in the world of London restaurants) and to me the most atmospheric.
8. Get Cosy at the Electric Cinema
The Electric Cinema is a London institution. One of the oldest working cinemas in the UK, it first opened in 1910. The Electric was offering comfortable sofa-style seating and high-quality in-cinema eating experiences long before the big chains clocked on to this format.
The Electric also has a fantastic diner style restaurant next door. You can eat there whether you are seeing a film or not. And The Electric is now owned by the last word in London style the Soho House Group.
9. Enjoy a Notting Hill Brunch
Notting Hill is one of the best places in London to head to for lunch as there is so much variety. One of my favourite places in Notting Hill for brunch is the Australian owned Granger & Co on Westbourne Grove. This is the place for avocado on toast.
Westbourne Grove is home to several great brunch spots. I have already mentioned Daylesford Organic. I am also a big fan of 202 which is virtually next door.
A little farther afield is the very cute Danish themed Snaps & Rye. And if you’re after the traditional full english check out Mike’s Café on Blenheim Crescent is a traditional style English breakfast spot.
For a quick and dirty breakfast, one of the hottest spots in Notting Hill is the wonderfully named Egg Slut on Portobello Road.
10. Check Out Notting Hill’s Hollywood Highlights
Let’s start with Notting Hill, the movie. The travel bookshop that Hugh Grant owns was filmed at 142 Portobello Road. However, there has never been any type of bookstore at this address. The last time I looked it was a gift shop.
Instead, the inspiration for the bookshop in the film is around the corner in Blenheim Crescent. The Notting Hill Bookshop at 13 Blenheim Crescent still has a focus on travel blooks.
The blue door which is the entrance to where Hugh Grant’s character lives is at 280 Westbourne Park Road. Apparently the film’s screenwriter Richard Curtis used to live here.
The original blue door was sold off at an auction some years ago so there is a door at 280 Wesbourne Park Road but it is black.
And it isn’t Notting Hill the movie but some scenes from the charming Paddington movie were also shot in Notting Hill. In the first Paddington movie the family take Paddington to Mr Gruber’s antiques shop on Portobello Road to see if he can get any clues from Paddington’s red hat.
This red store is actually Alice’s Antiques store and is located on a corner at 86 Portobello Road.
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11. Visit where it all started for Yotam Ottolenghi
In 2002 Yotam Ottolenghi opened his first store in Notting Hill, called Ottolenghi. From there a rather impressive empire of cafes, restaurants and cookbooks have helped to inspire many a plant based middle eastern themed cooking trend.
Personally, I am a huge Ottolenghi fan and have been to virtually all of his restaurants and cafes in London and have several books. His Notting Hill branch is still open and indeed I visited only a few weeks ago.
It is a very slim restaurant. When you enter there is a very impressive desserts and deli style counter at the front. Either grab some of his amazing salads take away or take a seat in the skinny restaurant bit at the back.
12. Brush Up on your Marketing skills at the Museum of Brands
As a marketer and a travel blogger I seldom see tourist attractions about marketing so I was delighted to discover the Museum of Brands in Notting Hill.
This museum looks at 200 years of the history of Britain through its brands. The permanent exhibition is a time tunnel that shows history through the brands which were most popular at the time.
Temporary exhibitions focus on newer trends and issues in the world of brands and marketing.
13. Trellick Tower
Everything in Notting Hill is so darn cute that this post needed something to balance it out. So here is some brutalist architecture and a bit of grit to achieve that aim.
Trellick Tower is one of London’s most striking pieces of architecture. Built in 1972, it was supposed to lead the way in social housing design. Instead, it became a bit of a cess pool of crime and vandalism.
The gentrification of Notting Hill saw this crime wave receed and prestige be placed onto Trellick House. It was Grade II listed in 1998 and is now one of Notting Hill’s most iconic buildings.
14. Take a Walking Tour
There are many addresses in this things to do in Notting Hill guide and quite a bit to keep track of – so why not kick back and relax and have someone else do the logistics bit for you and take a Notting Hill Walking Tour? It will cover virtually everything in this post plus I am sure a bit more with a well-informed guide.
Notting Hill Carnival
It isn’t possible to write about Notting Hill without mentioning the Notting Hill Carnival. This annual event has been held on the long weeked in August every year since 1966.
It is led by London’s West Indian community and attracts about 2 1/2 million people each year. It is a huge event with street food, parties, dress up, parades and well let’s face it a Carnival atmosphere.
Notting Hill Boutique Hotels
Unsurprisingly, Notting Hill has some gorgeous boutique hotels.
The Laslett is located just off Notting Hill Gate and is only a few minutes walk from Notting Hill. This lovely Notting Hill boutique hotel is like staying at someone’s home. There is very little signage out the front of the hotel which adds to the feel.
The building which houses The Laslett is actually five Victorian townhouses, all of which are Grade II listed.
Once inside, the ground floor features The Henderson Bar and The Library. The Library is a lovely space for relaxing or working and is filled with British art and design books. The Henderson Bar is well a bar as well as having a room for breakfast.
The Laslett took its name from Rhaune Laslett, a local activist who organised the Notting Hill Festival, which later became the Notting Hill Carnival.
There are 51 bedrooms at The Laslett and 5 types of bedrooms from a spare bedroom single to master bedroom suites.
The interior design is modern British and features British design pieces from Pinch and Race furniture, British bespoke handmade lighting, curated artwork from local artists and Ren toiletries in the bathroom.
The hotel is known for its fantastic in-room “Big Bars”. The bar is stocked with every beverage you could need and features local brands and the same applies to the snacks and coffee and tea selections. And the bar even stocks a candle unique to the hotel!
The Portobello Hotel
This Notting Hill boutique hotel has a wonderfully decadent and bohemian British feel to it. It is located on a small residential-style road in the heart of Notting Hill.
Originally opened in 1971, The Portobello Hotel was a boutique hotel before anyone even thought about coining the concept and has always been popular amongst those in fashion and music.
The infamous Kate Moss and Johnny Depp champagne bath apparently happened at The Portobello Hotel in room 16 (also the home of a circular bed so that seems right).
As the first boutique hotel in London, The Portobello is filled with quirky and eclectic design that also feels incredibly comfortable. It’s 21 rooms are filled with one off pieces, a bookshelf that reveals a bathroom and courtyards that are decorated with stunning mosaics.
The Portobello Hotel doesn’t have a restaurant but it does serve breakfast either in its sitting room or in your bedroom. There is also a light snack menu plus an honesty bar in the drawing room on the ground floor.
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