Being a full-time student doesn’t leave many opportunities for touring around the city, even when that city is London, which seems to have something exciting happening around every corner. I took advantage of a free day, though — no classes, no work that couldn’t be put off until tomorrow, no other commitments — and checked off one of the many items on my London bucket list.
Although you’d never guess just from looking at it, Notting Hill is the site of one of the world’s biggest street festivals once a year, an antiques & fashion market each Saturday, and the filming of a famous movie (you know the one). There’s much more to this charming little neighborhood of pastel-colored townhouses and cute shops than meets the eye.
After I arrived at Notting Hill Gate, the first thing I did was snap a picture of the Coronet: an old cinema that’s supposedly haunted. The Electric cinema, one of the oldest in London, can also be found nearby, up on Portobello Road.
Portobello Road is the heart of Notting Hill, and the location of its weekly market. On a weekday, a smaller version of the market is still present, with a handful of vendors scattered all along the road.
The shops sell things like antiques, art prints, clothing, all kinds of food, cheesy souvenirs, tea sets, and plenty more.
Portobello Road is about a two-mile stretch; the surrounding streets have plenty to see (and buy, and eat) as well.
I went to the Hummingbird Bakery for a perfect red velvet cupcake.
After that, I made my way to the Notting Hill Book Shop — which apparently was important in That One Movie? Which I haven’t seen yet. I had to check it out, though, because I’ve never met a book shop I didn’t like.
I took a detour after that because I wanted to visit Al Waha, a Lebanese restaurant in the area. It was well worth the 15-minute walk — their food is legit, super tasty, and only made me miss my grandma’s cooking a little bit.
I am absolutely going to return for one of the Saturday markets, and for the carnival in August. This wouldn’t be a bad place to sit in a cafe and work for a while, either — if you can resist blowing all your money at the cute shops you pass on your way to that cafe.
This area has a very different vibe to it from the rest of London. I felt like I was walking through a painting, all the bright colors and the perfect row of old terraces.
In short, this is by far one of the most photogenic neighborhoods I’ve ever been to.