Welcome to Notting Hill. Looking for some inspiration on what to do while you’re here? Maybe a little local guidance? Please, allow us. We’ve had a chat with some Notting Hill taxi drivers to find out where the all the local trendsetters are going so you don’t have to. And to make things double easy for you, we’ve taken all that valuable info and put it into this handy guide, check it out. If you’re new to the area and maybe aren’t quite completely up to speed with what’s on offer around this part of West London, allow us to enlighten you. Notting Hill benefits from a perfect marriage of cultures. One one side you have the large Caribbean community. The guys behind some of the best jerk chicken spots in London (see below) and of course, the world famous Notting Hill Carnival (also below). Then on the other, you’ve got the slightly newer crowd, the more affluent set. Those that populate the antiques markets of Portobello Road (that’s right, down below) and the stunning back streets of Ladbroke Grove. So if you’re only experience of Notting Hill so far is ‘that blue door’ prepare to be charmed and seduced by this sleepy but vibrant part of west London. Addison Lee have been providing the capital with a private hire firm it can trust for over 30 years, and with a lot of our customers choosing to ‘head west’, we like to think that we’ve been at the heart of Notting Hill and its community for pretty much all that time. And because we’ve got no hidden charges, no ‘surge’ fares when we’re busy, and we’re a massive 30% cheaper than some Notting Hill taxi services, we’re pretty certain Addison Lee are your best option when it comes to getting around W11.
Where to drink
What started as a little bar on Portobello Rd has now become a worldwide phenomenon. The Star is not only a great place to grab a vintage cocktail in Notting Hill, it’s also arguably the best place to get a gin too. Yes, we know that’s a big shout in a city whose gin scene has literally exploded in the past few years, but until you’ve tried Portobello Road Gin (they make it upstairs) you’ve not got a leg to stand on. The Star is a brilliant, booming cocktail bar whose staff are as knowledgeable as they are engaging. And if you’re really into their gin then make a booking for the Ginstitute (also upstairs) – a guided tour through the history and creation of gin. Where you not only get to make your own gin, you can take a bottle of it away with you too.
171 Portobello Rd, W11 2DY
If you’re in the mood to party and you like rum then head to Trailer Happiness immediately. This subterranean tiki den is an irrepressibly cheery bar with nothing but fun at its heart. Descend into Trailer to find yourself caught somewhere between 1970s London and the bouncy exuberance of the south pacific islands. The cocktail menu is short but has something for everyone. And the bartenders are well versed so if you want to go off-piste just ask. It can get busy late on in here and the tables are reservation only but it’s not ‘one of those bars’ so just get in, get watered and get parting.
177 Portobello Rd, W11 2DY
Cock & Bottle
Great pubs are ten to the dozen in Notting Hill so don’t feel obliged to follow our word to the letter on this one – in fact, half the fun of the area is exploring it, so go for it – but step away from the crowds a bit and you’ll find solace in the Cock & Bottle. Boasting a great little outdoor drinking area at its front, this historic pub is a classically British establishment. A fact never more evident than in the way the owners have chosen to retain so many of the building’s original features. There are ales to satisfy even the most mean-spirited beer snob, while the wine list is what you’d expect in the more affluent corner of Notting Hill. They also do some fine pub grub. A great choice in winter or summer.
17 Needham Rd, W11 2RP
Where to eat
If there is a spectrum of wealth in Notting Hill then The Ledbury represents the absolute peak of that scale. But being expensive does not a great restaurant make. Nor do an endless stream of famous patrons. What is usually a good sign of a pretty great restaurant is two Michelin stars which – you guessed it – The Ledbury does have. Set up by Australian chef Brett Graham, this place is about as plush and completely indicative of the local set as you’ll find in Notting Hill. A beautiful setting, innovative and exciting food using fresh seasonal produce and a vast wine list to carry it all home. The Ledbury favours less dishes with more food, so it’s never too fiddly either.
27 Ledbury Rd, W11 2AQ
Portobello Garden Caffe
Dial it down a notch for an altogether more earthy place to eat and you’ll find yourself in the exquisite Portobello Garden Caffe. Head in through the stone archways down the arcade to uncover this fresh little conservatory – finding this place is almost as exciting as eating in it. And you’ll instantaneously realise you’re in for a great meal. Without so much as a proper kitchen in sight, Portobello Garden Caffe prepare a lot of their food at the back of the restaurant. A massive spread of meats, cheese and fresh vegetables are brought together to create a menu of Italian classics and rural surprises aplenty. People seem to pretty much only speak Italian here which is usually a good sign, and it’s incredibly reasonable when the bill turns up.
269B Portobello Rd, W11 1LR
For a real slice of Caribbean flavour head to Boom Burger. Serving ‘Gourmet Jamaican Burgers’ Boom Burger is a firm favourite with just about everybody who swings by. Set under the railway arches at the bottom of Portobello Road, this rustic little restaurant has all the heart and soul of the Caribbean steeped into everything they do. Order your burger, plantain fries, jerk chicken and can of Red Stripe at the bar then grab a seat and get ready to feast. It’s no exaggeration to say that people travel from far and wide to eat here. So get ready for a real treat.
272 Portobello Road, W10 5TY
What to do
The world famous Portobello Road Antiques market is probably what most people think of when they talk about Notting Hill (except maybe that pesky blue door). Stretching the length of the street, it plays host to over 1,000 different antiques dealers. Making it the world’s largest antique market and easily the most exciting. Not all that interested in old stuff? Fear not because Portobello also has food, clothing (vintage and new), bric-a-brac, furniture and household goods. It just depends where you are and on what day. Check the website for details.
Notting Hill Carnival
This is a pretty exclusive one as it only happens once a year and for just one weekend in August, but such is the cultural relevance of Carnival that if you happen to be around when it’s on, you simply have to go. Carnival is one enormous celebration of Afro-Caribbean culture – the largest of its kind in Britain – taking place all across Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove and Latimer St (amongst others). Put another way, it’s a massive street party. During Carnival the whole area shuts down. The roads are closed and the houses boarded up as around 50,000 people descend on the streets to enjoy some 30 different sound systems. Taking place over three days, we recommend going on the Sunday (family day) for first timers. And be prepared to need the loo, a lot. The crowds are heavy and it’s hard to get about.
What could be better than watching a movie in a single screen independent cinema in Notting Hill? Well how about if that cinema had individual velvet armchairs, two person sofas, or even beds to watch it from? How does a footrest tickle your fancy? The Electric is so utterly comfortable in fact that they have cashmere rugs to keep you warm throughout the performance. It almost goes without saying that there’s a full bar too. From where you can get snacks, wine, beer or soft drinks to enjoy the movie with. Unsurprisingly, they get quite busy so you’ll need to book quite far in advance.
191 Portobello Rd, W11 2ED