A Day In London's Charming Neighbourhood - Notting Hill

I vividly remember Julia Roberts from the breezy romantic comedy Notting Hill as we conclude the See Notting Hill Tour. Not like a girl in love but like a little girl exploring the unique vibe of one of the most charming neighborhood in West London - Notting Hill, known world over for hosting the annual Notting Hill Carnival. Though there is so much to do and see in Notting Hill but if like me you have just a day to explore, here is how you can make the most of it.

One of the best ways to spend a day in London's iconic borough is on a walking tour with a good guide (Jordan from See Notting Hill Tour, in my case) and than explore on your own. One saturday afternoon, Notting Hill came to life on this fantastic walking tour and I stayed back to spend a day enveloped in fantasy. Featured extensively in namesake movie Notting Hill, Love Actually and Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill is a picture-perfect stop during your London visit.

The See Notting Hill Tour lasts approx 90 mins and you do about 1 mile to 1.5 mile walking as you explore many famous sights intermingled with magic tricks, folklore about London's most affluent area.

The tour starts with a meet up at Sun in Splendour pub, thought to be one of the oldest pub in the area and you get to deep dive into Notting Hill's history. Known for piggeries and potteries in early 1800's, Notting Hill became more residential only by 1840s. However, Portobello Road that runs almost the length of Notting Hill from south to north was a different place 300 years ago. How it was named is another interesting bit of trivia. The road gets its name from Portobello farm, named after the town of Porto Bello in Panama, captured by the British from the Spanish in 1739.

Next you get to know more about the famous yet anonymous British graffiti master Bansky whose distinctive stenciling technique has been featured on streets, walls and bridges of cities throughout the world. Walk a bit and you get to see Claudia Schiffer's house (from outside, of course) and know more about a famous letterbox incident. The incident goes like this - Ms. Schiffer's dog one day attacked a postman attempting to deliver mail and since than the letter box had to be placed outside the house.

Move on to know more about English chemist and physicist Sir William Crookes who lived here from 1880 until his death.

House of Sir William Crookes

The tour gets more fascinating as we walk further. For instance, we get to know the story of Florence Cook - a medium that claimed to materialize a spirit called "Katie King" and endorsed by Sir William Crookes though many others were skeptical of her antics.

Next stop and admire Richard Branson's former mansion, Paul Smith flagship store, Alice - Notting Hill's first antique shop and take pictures at the very famous Notting Hill Bookshop. 

Alice - antique shop

Notting Hill Book Store

Walk along and admire the many Victorian style houses and their famous inhabitants and admire the Rosmead Gardens (from outside, again) that feature in a scene in the film- Notting Hill.

Rosemead Gardens

Get ready to experience some shivers as you listen more about the Number 7 ghost bus and get to see a magic trick by Jordan.

Stop and take pictures against beautiful pastel-colored houses at Notting Hill, that follow an unspoken rule of one solid color on the exterior and not the same one as your neighbor.

Stop and click some pictures of the 20th Century Theater that has closed its doors. Notting Hill's favorite venue, the theater has hosted many events like weddings, fund raisers, new launches and more.

Conclude the walking tour by posing with the blue doorway featured in the film Notting Hill, just like we did.

Portobello Road Market was in full swing as it was a saturday and we decided to explore it on our own. Primarily known as UK’s biggest antiques market, one can also find a variety of secondhand goods, household essentials, clothing, accessories and food items. 

We stopped by to enjoy a delicious mixed berry smoothie served in a carved pineapple and walked around hunting for bargains. Wandering around was a pleasure and as our tired feet cried out for some rest, we headed to Farm Girl Cafe at Portobello road.
How Do I Get Here:

Noting Hill Gate is the main tube station and is served by Central, District and Circle line.

Best Time To Visit:

Weekdays are quieter but if you like to experience the eclectic atmosphere of Portobello market, choose Saturdays.

What More Can I Do Here:

Notting Hill Carnival - Usually held in the last weekend of August, the carnival is a yearly celebration of London's Caribbean communities, their culture and traditions. Started as an answer to bridge the cultural gap which arose with a large influx of Afro-Caribbean immigrants after World War II, it has grown to become one of the largest street carnivals in Europe. Plan ahead as accommodation gets expensive and unavailable during carnival dates.

In addition, plan a movie date at Electric Cinema, one of the oldest working cinemas in Britain.


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