Notting Hill is one of London's most charming neighborhoods, filled with colorful row houses and boutique shops that make for the perfect Instagram photo. The area, which can be found in West London, is known as the setting of several films, from "Notting Hill" to "Love, Actually" to "Paddington," and it's a great place to explore while in the British capital. Whether you're looking for vintage shopping or a nice dinner out, Notting Hill is a great addition to any London itinerary.
Shop at Portobello Market
Portobello Market, located along Portobello Road, is open Monday through Saturday, selling everything from clothes to antiques to kitschy souvenirs. It's essentially several markets combined into one and visitors will find the most stalls open on Fridays and Saturdays. Look for great vintage finds, especially jewelry, and be sure to scour the antiques arcades for cool furnishings. There are also food stalls to browse, with fruits and vegetables, as well as takeaway items like curries and fish and chips. It's a great place to get a sense of Notting Hill's atmosphere even if you don't intend to buy anything.
Visit the Notting Hill Door
The infamous blue door from "Notting Hill" can be found at 280 Westbourne Park Road, just off the main drag. It's iconic as the home of Hugh Grant's character in the film and nowadays rom-com loving tourists stop by for a photo. The original blue door was auctioned off for charity after the film became popular, but there's an identical replacement there now. Just be sure to be respectful of the homeowners, who likely aren't as congenial as Grant is in the film
Dine at The Ledbury
London's best culinary splurge is The Ledbury, a two-Michelin-starred restaurant in Notting Hill. The modern eatery, run by chef Brett Graham, is all about British ingredients and new takes on British dishes, and the service is some of the very best in London. Most diners opt for the evening tasting menu, but if you're on a budget the set lunch menu, served Wednesday to Friday, is a good option. A vegetarian menu is available for those who prefer not to eat meat as well. Be sure to make a reservation well in advance of your visit, especially if you're coming for a special occasion.
See a Movie at Electric Cinema
Electric Cinema is one of the city's oldest movie theaters. Now owned by Soho House, the cinema has been restored in recent years and boasts insanely comfortable leather chairs and couches (each with its own footstool). All of the latest films play here, so you can come with the family for an animated flick or make a date night out of it. Electric Diner, located next door, is a great spot for dinner or drinks after the film.
Learn to Make Gin
Gin is basically a national treasure in England, so no trip to the U.K. is complete without learning its origins. Book a session at The Ginstitute, where you'll learn how gin is made and then get to create your very own blend of botanicals. Everyone gets a bottle of their own creation to take home and the experience also includes a few drinks (we recommend going on a full stomach). The Ginstitute is part of The Distillery, a bar and eatery on Portobello Road, where you can taste-test some gins if you don't want to blend your own. The Distillery even has a few hotel bedrooms in case you want to stay overnight.
Shop Rough Trade Records
Rough Trade West, the Notting Hill outpost of Rough Trade Records, keeps the memories of vinyl and CDs alive. The independent record shop first opened in 1976 and has been selling CDs, albums, books, and memorabilia ever since. It's a great place to experience the city's musical history or shop for a souvenir copy of "London Calling" on vinyl. There is also a second London location of Rough Trade on Brick Lane called Rough Trade East. The east side location features a cafe and space for live musical performances, and those traveling outside London will find Rough Trade shops in Bristol and Nottingham as well.
Experience Notting Hill Carnival
Every year in August, Notting Hill Carnival takes over the neighborhood for a weekend of festivities. The annual event celebrating Caribbean heritage has been taking place since 1966, typically on the last weekend of the month, and includes a family day on Sundays where younger visitors can enjoy smaller crowds and kid-friendly parade floats. The carnival is notoriously rowdy, with Londoners and visitors alike partying through the day and into the night on the Notting Hill streets. There's live music, dancing, parade celebrations, and lots of drinking. It's recommended that you plan any travel to the area in advance since the crowds can be massive.
Explore the Museum of Brands
The Museum of Brands traces the history of consumer culture from the Victorian era until today, looking at how brands engage with the public and showcasing important moments in history. The museum showcases over 12,000 original items and often hosts workshops and events to further investigate the collection. Visitors are welcomed daily to the museum, which can be found near the Ladbroke Grove Tube station, and groups larger than 10 can score a discount on tickets.
Drink at the Churchill Arms
The Churchill Arms is one of London's most iconic pubs thanks to its ornate living decoration. The pub, owned by Fuller's, is covered in flowers and plants throughout the year (and dozens of Christmas trees in December). It's a great spot to grab a pint after strolling through Notting Hill, and the pub also serves up a menu of Thai food daily starting at noon. The restaurant takes reservations for those looking to dine in, but it's easy to just walk in and grab a table whenever you're in the area.
Have a Snack at Biscuiteers
There's a lot of good food to be found around Notting Hill, but sweet lovers shouldn't miss Biscuiteers Boutique and Icing Café on Kensington Park Road. The shop sells chocolates, cookies, and other delicious treats. It also hosts afternoon tea, which includes a selection of their iconic cookies. If you want to learn to make their wares at home, book one of Biscuiteers' "School of Icing" classes or a DIY Icing Café session, where you can decorate your own cookie. Be sure to make reservations for afternoon tea, which runs daily between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., in advance online.