Known to most people outside of London for the 1999 film written by Richard Curtis and starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, Notting Hill is really one of the most affluent and charming boroughs in London. Those wanting to visit this neighborhood can easily find a number of great restaurants, pubs, shops, and sights to experience. There certainly is no lack of things to do here, and we have laid out our top ten favourite Notting Hill experiences for you to consider. Let us know some of your own favorites in the comments.
Notting Hill Tours
The best way to see any place is with a guide who knows the area, and there are many great tours available to help you see and know more about Notting Hill that you can get walking around on your own. Whether you want to walk with Jordan on See Notting Hill or ride with Joe in his black cab for Notting Hill Taxi Tours, they are both going to provide you with plenty of information, some of it unknown even by people who live there. If you’re more into film, the Rom-Com Tour of London certainly takes you through the neighbourhood.
The Museum of Brands
We are inundated with advertising today, and the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising on Lancaster Road is dedicated to the history of selling us things. The museum’s collection goes back to the Victorian period and includes not only packages and posters, but also items such as OXO cubes from World War I and Rimmel Cosmetics from the 1890s. The museum also puts on workshops so you can get in-depth lessons into what it takes to market a product in any era.
One of the best cinemas in the whole of London, Electric Cinema is also one of the oldest in the United Kingdom. Only shuttered for brief periods during its history, it has been in near-continuous use since opening in 1910. The theatre continues to show the latest releases and offers an array of snacks as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Once you’re done with your film, you can check out the adjoining Electric Diner for a meal.
The Blue Door
Those who’ve seen the movie Notting Hill will certainly want to visit this iconic location that marked the entrance to Hugh Grant’s flat. 280 Westbourne Park Road is the physical location of the door, which naturally became very popular after the film was released. The home behind the door was actually owned by Richard Curtis, who smartly decided to sell. Unfortunately, the new owners weren’t too happy with the attention and painted it black, but the current residents loved its tie-in with the movie and painted it blue again.
Portobello Film Festival
Late August and Early September sees the return of the Portobello Film Festival, an event highlighting the variety of films from London’s best independent filmmakers. It has been around since 1996 and today features a number of screenings at venues all over Notting Hill. Filmmakers are often present at the screenings to speak with the audience about the creative process, and there is an awards ceremony to recognise the best offerings for that year’s festival.
Notting Hill Mayfest
Held throughout the month of May, Mayfest has been going on for fifteen years and is full of food, film, music, and more. The festival is entirely volunteer-based and features a wide variety of things to do depending on the time of year that you visit. The May Fair has been running even longer than the festival and features a number of carnival games, stalls, a fancy dress parade, and a crowning of the May King and May Queen.
The Notting Hill Bookshop
The Travel Bookshop that the film Notting Hill was based on closed several years ago and the Notting Hill Bookshop has replaced it. The shop is worth checking out thanks to its extensive library of current and new books as well as its charming atmosphere. Those wanting souvenirs of their trip to Notting Hill can also find any number of items there dedicated to the borough or the film.
Beach Blanket Babylon
This restaurant and bar on Ledbury Road is known as much for its food and drink as it is its eclectic interior. Each part of BBB from the bar to the dining rooms to the private spaces has a different theme such as the crypt, the rococo mansion dining rooms, and the more kitsch-style bar. The service has received some less-than-stellar reviews in the past, but it’s easy to forgive when their cocktails are some of the best in Notting Hill, featuring drinks such as Pineapple Empire and Forget Me Not.
Portobello Road Market
Easily one of the top reasons to visit Notting Hill whether you’re a tourist or a London resident, the Portobello Road Market ranks amongst the city’s best open air shopping venues. The market is mostly known for its extensive collection of antiques with over 1,000 vendors lining the street, but there are also a number of other stalls selling produce, new items, and second-hand goods. It should be noted that the market can get pretty crowded, so you might want to check the opening times for the day you plan to visit and get there as early as you can.
Notting Hill Carnival
Most carnivals around the world are usually held as a precursor to the Christian season of Lent, but Notting Hill’s comes along in late August. The Carnival is Europe’s biggest street festival and dedicated to celebrating the Caribbean culture of London. It has been around since 1964 and is full of music, dancing, and food for two days, with the main party and parade falling on the Monday bank holiday. Early Sunday activities are dedicated to families and children before the serious partying begins.