Notting Hill | A Local's Neighbourhood Guide
For a long time, Notting Hill was a big part of my life and identity. Since moving away, I’ve become a bit detached from those streets and people, but I still feel a fierce connection with the tiny area of London that we spent so many major moments of our life. I wouldn’t ask just anyone to represent Notting Hill here with you.. .unless I trusted them completely. And luckily, I have Amber here to talk you through the neighbourhood. Not only do I trust Amber to know exactly what kind of food/bakery/pub is in sync with my tastes… but I also would trust her with prettttty much anything else in my life. She’s my best friend here in London, she’s the nicest person anyone knows (seriously- ask anyone who has met her), and she’s got the best taste. She has recently started blogging again (YAY!!!!) and you can get a taste for how special this lady is there on her blog, Cobblestone Collective. Okay, enough gushy talk. I love her. She loves me…. But you’re here to hear about Notting Hill and why it’s great. So, with that, I’ll pass it over to Amber.
Notting Hill, W11
1. Tell us about your neighbourhood.
Notting Hill is a vibrant, quirky, charming neighbourhood with a great mix of cobble-stoned mews, posh flats with glossy front doors, and of course the rows of candy-hued houses. The world-famous Portobello Road market is the heartbeat of the neighbourhood -- sprawling two miles from Notting Hill Gate up past Golbourne Road. The mix of fresh food, baked goods, fruit/veggie/flower stands along with tables of vintage silver, antiques and furniture attract locals and tourists alike.
2. On a scale of 1-10, how connected would you say where you live is? What are the major lines that run to/from you?
I would say Notting Hill is about an 8 on the transportation scale. Although there are many ways to access the neighbourhood, there are also little pockets throughout that are a bit harder to reach. Notting Hill Gate Station (Central, Circle & District Lines) will easily take you into Central London, and some of the stations further north (Westbourne Park and Ladbroke Grove - Hammersmith & City, Circle Lines) are a straight shot to some of the major train stations (Paddington and King's Cross). The hardest places to quickly reach are right in the middle of Notting Hill, but the buses will help get you to where you need to go, or walking the winding streets can have its charm too!
3. In a dream world, what would be the perfect street or area to live in within your neighbourhood? Why?
As cliché as it is, I'm a sucker for St. Luke's Mews and especially the pink house where the famous Love Actually scene was filmed. Although I am drawn to just about all the little hidden gem mews streets in Notting Hill. They become their own little communities in the midst of a bustling city -- neighbours pull out bistro tables and enjoy the little slivers of sunshine while sipping tea, kids play and dogs lounge around on the cobbled streets - my kind of place!
4. On a 1-10, how would you say the value for square footage is? Do a pay a premium for where you live or would you say it’s a better value than other areas in London?
Because of the location, famous name and accessibility to shops/restaurants/markets, I would have to give Notting Hill a 5 on the value scale. People generally don't move to this neighbourhood looking for good value and spacious flats, but more for the charm and eclectic culture so it tends to be on the pricier side compared to other areas in London.
5. What’s the general vibe of the neighbourhood? Give us three people we might see on your high street?
One of the things I love the most about Notting Hill is the mix of artists, professionals, tourists, celebrities and plain old families - like us! On any given day, you could see a tourist stopping to ask for directions to Portobello Road, a guy wearing a beret and sneakers carrying a huge instrument down the street like it's the most normal thing in the world, or a frazzled mom pushing a stroller with a babbling baby and toddler somewhere nearby picking gum up off the street (or maybe that's just me ;)
6. What’s your favourite place to get coffee in your neighbourhood?
Lately, I've been loving the cozy courtyard and rose lattes at Farm Girl Cafe. If you are lucky enough to snag a table outside, the heaters and fur-lined seats will keep you warm in any weather (except maybe the pouring rain) - and the coffee, juices, avocado toast, and berry donuts will keep you fueled to catch up on some emails, people watch or chat with friends.
A close second would be Fabrique bakery - with their gorgeous (and delicious) Swedish cinnamon buns, cute mis-matched floral plates and friendly service, a coffee here is such a treat!
7. What’s your favourite place to eat dinner in your neighbourhood?
If I'm looking for a quick, casual, yet delicious and satisfying dinner, I head straight to The Chipping Forecast for some of the most delicious fish and chips in all of London. Perfectly crunchy chips, butter lettuce and avocado salad, and ever so slightly mushy peas accompany white, flaky fish in the perfect amount of batter. If you save room, the sticky toffee pudding is not to be missed!
If I'm wanting a little something special or romantic, we head toward Granger & Co. Famous for their breakfast, we also love to tuck in here in the evening to enjoy some of their unique Aussie inspired dishes for dinner. The large windows, buzzing atmosphere and candlelight lend to a perfect backdrop for long conversations with friends, or a special date night out.
8. Best pub?
Although it's on the border of Notting Hill and Kensington, I'd still have to say the Churchill Arms is one of the best pubs around - the history, gorgeous flowers and Thai food make this place a bit of a local legend!
9. Best way to spend a Saturday in Notting Hill as a local?
Saturdays are normally the busiest day of the week because the market is in full swing and attracts people from all over London. This means there is a fun buzz in the neighbourhood, but also means lots of people, crowds and lines everywhere. We've found that if we are going out and about on a Saturday, the earlier the better. With little ones, this isn't too hard! We usually start with a walk down Westbourne Grove, and maybe pick up a coffee and pastry at Ottolenghi or Fabrique to take along. We might stop by local shops and market stands to pick up things for dinner and the upcoming week before hitting up a local playground to run out a little energy and heading home for a bit of down time. Our evenings are usually spent making dinner at home and if the weather is nice, dining al fresco on our (teeny tiny) balcony!
10. How much (approximately) would an Uber to Oxford Circus cost you?
*images courtesy of Amber Mickelson