Notting Hill's chic appearance – made famous by Richard Curtis' 1999 film – is in fact relatively new. In the early 19th century, the area was dominated by potteries and pig farms, and landowner James Ladbrokes' dream of transforming it into a suburban paradise was thwarted by more than 150 years of residential turmoil.
However, Notting Hill has blossomed into one of London's most desirable areas. You can now find everything from world-famous events and eateries to cutting-edge galleries and theatres. Perhaps you'll even meet a film star in a travel book shop...
Notting Hill Attractions and Entertainment
Bargain hunters will love the extensive Portobello Market, which is busiest on Saturdays when all of the antiques stalls are in position. Nearly a kilometre long, this bustling market offers an endless variety of merchandise – dive in and you're sure to find a unique souvenir. Fans of the 1999 film Notting Hill can walk in the footsteps of Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts on a Notting Hill Film Tour. You'll see some of the famous locations that were integral to the film, as well as learn about the history of the area.
The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising is one of London's quirkier museums – here you'll find more than 12,000 items that chart the evolution of consumer culture. Notting Hill is also a fantastic place to find small, independent art galleries. Those with an interest in modern art will love Salon Contemporary, Beverley Knowles Fine Art and Graffik – a gallery dedicated to urban art. For something more traditional, try the Temple Gallery, which specialises in religious iconography and sacred art.
The crowning jewel in Notting Hill's entertainment scene is The Gate Theatre which, despite its tiny size, has gained a global reputation for fostering a wealth of new theatrical talent. Here you can watch exciting international plays and perhaps spot stars of the future. You can also see a fantastic mix of theatre, dance and concerts at The Print Room, a new arts venue that's already winning awards. For a diverse mix of comedy, literary and musical performances, check out The Tabernacle, which is also a bar and kitchen. The Elgin pub is also a popular venue that hosts a diverse mix of live music throughout the week. If you prefer to make your dinner part of the show, head to Supperclub, where you'll recline on a white bed and be served an adventurous menu while the staff perform in front of you!
Food and Drink in Notting Hill
Notting Hill is a hub for fashionable restaurants and trendy bars. The Michelin-starred Ledbury is perfect for a special occasion, or you can find exquisite English cuisine at nearby Hereford Road. Those looking for more exotic flavours should head to E&O, a buzzing pan-Asian tapas restaurant that's a firm favourite with the locals.
If you'd rather make the food yourself, head over to Jamie Oliver's Recipease. Here you can learn to make one of the celebrity chef's dishes, and then sit down to enjoy your hard work with a glass of wine. The compact Books for Cooks shop is also a great destination for lessons and recipe inspiration!
For a quiet drink in Notting Hill, head to traditional pubs such as the Hillgate, the Ladbroke Arms and the Cock and Bottle. If you're in search of something more glamorous, however, sashay your way to The Lonsdale or Beach Blanket Babylon, where you'll find some seriously tasty cocktails.
The Notting Hill Carnival
Every August Bank Holiday millions of people celebrate Europe's biggest street festival – the Notting Hill Carnival. The festival's Caribbean theme brings a welcome splash of colour to West London, and the huge parade of floats and performers is a spectacular sight. You'll also be able to enjoy steel bands, Calypso music and a variety of mouth-watering food.