During my trip to London and Paris in April, I stayed at my cousin’s flat in Notting Hill. It’s a posh neighborhood, full of colorful homes, quirky shops, booming pubs, and interesting people. There is plenty to see and do, and it is an easy bus or tube ride away from the rest of London. If you’re visiting London and have time to explore Notting Hill, here are my recommendations of what to see and do.
Portobello Road Market
You can’t come to Notting Hill and not visit the famous Portobello Road Market. While there are street vendors set up daily along Portobello Road, the market comes to life on Saturdays with booths selling everything from fresh baked bread to Caribbean-themed drinks served in pineapples, locally sourced produce to hand-picked flowers, and clothing to antiques.
Portobello Road is almost as famous for its antique shops as it is for its market. Be sure to pop in and out of several if you have a specific item in mind in order to get the best deal. Talk to the merchants as well. They were all so friendly! Careful if you have little ones, however. The shops are small and are often crammed tight with goods.
Biscuiteers Icing Cafe
I read about Biscuiteers Icing Cafe on Aspiring Kennedy and made it my mission to find it on day one. It is the cutest cookie shop I’ve ever seen. Buy a set of cookies in almost whatever theme your heart desires, treat yourself to chocolates or cake, or stay for one of their icing classes. Definitely order a cup of coffee to go with your sweets and sit outside at one of their cute cafe tables.
Books For Cooks
I love cook books. I have dozens of them. When I strolled past Books For Cooks and took note of the name, I had to go in. There are thousands of cookbooks for sale, but there is also a cafe where they test drive recipes found in the books. You can even take “cookery” classes in their upstairs kitchen.
If you like chocolate even a little, Melt is the place for you. There is chocolate on chocolate on chocolate. Their kitchen is right there, so you can watch them make it. They also have some of the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted. And of course, they offer chocolate-making classes.
Granger & Co.
One of my favorite meals while I was in London was breakfast at Granger & Co. Owned by Bill Granger, and Australian restaurateur and food writer, the restaurant prides itself on fast food. I had incredible muesli, raw bites, and an incredible cup of coffee, all while eyeing everyone else’s plates enviously. I tried to make it back for dinner, but didn’t – maybe on my next trip!
Sometimes, you just want a good burger. I found a great burger at Honest Burgers. They use a rosemary salt on their chips (fries) that helps raise the bar just a little higher. It is a chain restaurant, but it doesn’t feel like a chain – and delivers on its promise of providing good, honest burgers.
The Fish House
When in London, you must have fish n’ chips. I’m not big on fish or seafood, but I will eat it on occasion. I had a couple of fish n’ chips dishes while in England, and The Fish House was by far my favorite. Eat in and take away menus are available.
I consider it fact that London has some of the best Indian food in the world, outside of India. My cousin and I ate absolutely everything on the menu (not really – but we had a lot of food!) at Durbar Tandoori and every single bite was delicious. It’s near Melt – two birds, one trip!
The Churchill Arms
You’ve probably seen photos of this flower-covered pub. The Churchill Arms‘ whimsical-yet-outward appearance and pub-standard name may leave you to believe it offers standard pub fare. Actually, it serves up some of the best Thai food I’ve ever had. It’s all family recipes, passed down from one generation to the next.
Coffee Shops & Bakeries
One of my favorite things to do when I travel is search out the local coffee shops and bakeries – no Starbucks if I can help it. Notting Hill is full of them.
GAIL’s Artisan Bakery
By the end of my trip to London, the folks in GAIL’s Artisan Bakery knew me, if not by name, then by sight. I developed a habit of stopping in nearly every morning for a spinach and feta roll, a cranberry and walnut cookie (for the road), and a latte. I’d sit at a table and read and people watch. Any baked good or sandwich you can dream up is on offer, and their coffee selection is suburb.
The Second Cup is the very first place I went upon arriving in London. It became my go-to destination for afternoon (and evening…) coffee and grab-and-go snacks and dinners. They had a great Mediterranean salad in their take away box that satisfied my need for something green and great bars of every flavor. My favorite was the orange and cranberry – sensing a pattern about my U.K. preferences.
I went into Primrose Bakery because of the name, but oh my goodness, the cupcakes! The decor is sweet and what Americans would call “retro.” Pick up a few of the minis so you can try a few flavors. My favorites were the jaffa cake and the coffee and walnut. There’s also a rather interesting bubblegum flavored choice. This is a great option for gluten-free baked goods.
Notting Hill is one of those neighborhoods where there is something interesting around every corner. If I ever live in London, Notting Hill would be a top choice of locations to call home. Plan to spend at least a day in Notting Hill while in London!
Any favorite Notting Hill spots I’ve missed?