Notting Hill’s tiered Victorian townhouses come in more colours than wedding-cake white. The neighbourhood’s artsy residents have painted the façades to make streets of rainbow pastels and bird-of-paradise brights – much to Instagrammers’ delight. Hillgate Place and Westbourne Park Road make the best backdrops. Rummage through Portobello – London’s best-loved market – for vintage clothes, quirky ephemera and global street eats. Then wet your whistle at trad drinkery the Sun in Splendour or divert to the beautifully restored Elgin pub.
Early-birds can brunch at Farm Girl or breakfast any-which-way at Eggbreak. Hunt for retro wearables in What Katie Did and Rellik, or niche labels in Kokon to Zai. Sir Plus and Adam of London cut fine figures in tailoring. Refuelling stops include Michelin-starred must-trys and enticingly scented food stalls. Nightlife is both blue-blooded and bohemian, as well as rum-sloshed thanks to the neighbourhood’s historic ties with London’s Caribbean community – as spectacularly evidenced come August, when the Notting Hill Carnival brings sparkle, dance and jubilation to the streets.
Perseverance pays off at the Ledbury, Notting Hill’s table-short, talent-rich Michelin-acclaim generator. Chef Brett Graham has won it two stars and a recurring role in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. The set lunch is a select edit, but the eight-course tasting menu is divine, from shiso-dressed tomatoes to brown-sugar tart. And, before leaving, grab an Earth-kind compost bag.
The irony is as potent as the spirits in this immensely popular bar. This is a den of 70s wallpaper and wood-panelling, shag carpets and classic kitsch (a feature wall stars Tretchikoff’s iconic Chinese Girl). The rums are serious, but the cocktails are fun: unnaturally hued or sipped from a tiki mug. Try a signature Trailer Colada or flambéed drink for a daring blowtorch show.
First a museum, now a temple to all things gin. Here, you learn the art of gin distilling, via a spirit-steeped history lesson, a meeting with King Henry the copper still, and a crash course in botanicals. You’ll be kept tipsy throughout, and leave with a bottle of your creation, which will be kept on file for future re-orders. Then, hit the Resting Room bar or join an immersive gin dinner.
Yes, it translates to ‘the dog’s bollocks’ (Brit for ‘brilliant’), but this boutique’s name aptly sums up this curio cabinet. It’s a one-stop shop for unique homewares: a bell-jar of butterflies or petrified coral, perhaps. Owner Jerome can tell each item’s story. Some one-of-a-kind finds and vintage designer pieces have exclusive price tags, but you’re welcome to browse his collection.
Beloved by influencers, this Aussie café takes brunching seriously. Alongside avo and eggs are honeycomb hotcakes with miso caramel, croissants stuffed with truffled scrambled egg and flower-dressed açaí bowls. It’s de rigueur to arrange the skillets and plates on the marble countertops for some snaps. But sticky chicken rolls and crêpe cakes are at stake, so get stuck in.
Each weekend from 11.30am to 7.30pm, a microcosm of London’s wide diversity springs up in bays under the Westway Flyover. Jerked meats, Palestinian breads and dips, Cuban pork baguettes with mojito sauce: cuisines hop from country to country. Bay 58 bar – in a disused sports hall – has bands and seasonal drinks: Pimm’s in summer, mulled wine come winter, plus cocktails aplenty.
Notting Hill may have polished up its act, but it's still a character with the sweetest cafés and an artistic air. Somehow, it’s held on to its village feel
Image credits: © Imagesource; © Imagesource; © The Ledbury; © Trailer Happiness; © The Ginstitute; © Les Couilles du Chien; © The Dayrooms; © Acklam Village