Notting Hill-North Kensington is a district in west London.
Notting Hill is a popular destination for its lively market, gorgeous streetscapes, interesting history and diverse population. It has acheived a level of fame from the eponymously named Hugh Grant film (he actually does live here!), the world famous Portobello Road market and of course from the annual carnival.
The area was rural until the 19th century when it was developed as an upper-middle class suburb with quite large homes. During the early 20th century, these large homes were divided into low cost housing which often degenerated into slums. In the 1950s, many Caribbean immigrants settled in the area. In the 1960s it attracted musicans and artists and Portobello Road became the centre of English hippie culture. Portobello Road still hosts a very eclectic weekly market and is also home to a similarly off-beat set of permanent shops.
The Notting Hill carnival was first staged in 1964 as a way for the local Afro-Caribbean communities to celebrate their own cultures and traditions. After some rough times in the 1970s and 1980s when it became associated with social protest, violence and huge controversy over policing tactics, this is now Europe's largest carnival/festival event and a major event in the London calendar. It is staged every August over the Bank holiday weekend.
During the 1980s, the Notting Hill proper area of the district was largely gentrified although areas in the north west of the district at Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park remain deprived and run down. In local mythology, these more recent residents of Notting Hill are assumed to live from trust accounts, giving rise to the practice of classifying locals as either Rastafarians or Trustafarians.
Further west from Notting Hill providing a natural buffer between the north and south of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, is Holland Park. This is the least well known of London's Royal Parks and locals would like to keep it that way. A real a gem of a park which is off the tourist trail but very much worth a visit.
The district is serviced by the following stations:
- Notting Hill Gate (Central, District and Circle lines)
- Queensway (Central line)
- Ladbroke Grove (Hammersmith and City line)
- Westbourne Park (Hammersmith and City line)
- Bayswater (District and Circle lines)
The area is best explored on foot and lends itself well to walking.
- Holland Park (short walk southwest from Notting Hill Gate tube station), (5-min walk S from Holland Park tube station), . Holland Park is a mixture of open spaces, woodland and formal gardens. It includes a large field dedicated to Soccer and Cricket and tennis courts. It was originally the private garden of Holland House, much of which was destroyed. As you walk around the park, you can see bits of the building dotted around the place which give you some idea of how grand it used to be. In the summer this is a great place to catch outdoor opera. An ecology center is located near the police station that provides information about the ecology of the park and arranges various activities for children. A cafe is located nearby that provides ice creams and hot food. The park is an ideal way to walk from Notting Hill Gate to Kensington High St.
- Kensington Palace, Palace Green W8 4PX, (Tube: Queensway), ☎ +44 20 3166 6000, . Nov-Feb 10:00-17:00 daily, Mar-Oct 10:00-18:00. A royal residence which is still used by some members of the ruling family. Much of it is however open to the public and it is a very popular tourist attraction perhaps due as much to its association with Princess Diana as anything else. The King's Gallery here is a magnificent Regency period court drawing room and contains some impressive paintings including a Van Dyk. Also a nice restaurant on site called The Orangery. £6.25-12.50.
- Leighton House, 12 Holland Park Rd, W14 8LZ (tube: Kensington Olympia), ☎ +44 20 7602 3316 ([email protected]), . The former Victorian home of artist Frederic (Lord) Leighton. Regarded as one of the finest examples of Victorian residential architecture, it is now a museum showcasing works of many famous artists of that period. Combines well with a visit to Holland Park.
- Electric Cinema, 191 Portobello Rd (tube: Notting Hill gate or Ladbroke Gr), . Recently restored cinema boasting all leather armchairs (most with footstools) and a bar in the theatre - this is definitely a Notting Hill experience. The Electric shows a wide range of films from cinema classics, cult and independent films, to regular Hollywood blockbusters. They also have the Electric Scream session, specifically for parents with screaming babies! Ticket prices vary depending on how fancy your seat is. More expensive than a normal cinema but a fun experience.
- Film Walk, . Notting Hill's diversity and streetscapes have earned it a place in many films. Time Out has put together a walk encompassing some of them.
- Gate Picturehouse, Notting Hill Gate W11 3JZ (tube: Notting Hill Gate), ☎ +44 20 7727 4043, . Repetorty/arthouse cinema with a very varied programme.
- Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising (MOBPA), 2 Colville Mews, Lonsdale Rd, W11 2AR (tube: Ladbroke Gr), ☎ +44 +44 20 7908 0880, . A history of consumer culture arranged by decade. Over 12,000 exhibits.
- Musical history tour, . Tom Vague - a local music journalist and historian has put together an excellent do-it-yourself tour of Notting Hill focusing on its rich musical history. You can download it to you mp3 player from the Council web-site.
- Notting Hill Carnival, . Two day carnival which takes place every year on the August Bank Holiday weekend. It is said to be the largest carnival of its type in the world, attracts over a million people and is a great celebration of London's modern multi-cultural identity. What really gives it flavour is the large local Caribbean and Trinidadian population. This occurs in an almost circular route north of the Notting Hill, Westbourne Park and Ladbroke Grove areas. If intending to visit, see Transport For London's website in advance as many tube stations are closed for the duration and bus routes diverted. Driving into the area is highly discouraged - many streets are closed.
Portobello Road Antique Gallery
- Portobello Road Market, . During the week this is the place to go to buy your fruit and veg but on Fridays and Saturdays there are hundreds of stalls selling clothes, antiques, jewellery and lots more.
- Westbourne Grove. Smart boutiques, food shops and outdoor cafes.
- Travel Bookstore, 13-15 Blenheim Cres, . Great place to browse. Its other point of interest is that it was the inspiration for Hugh Grant's store in the movie Notting Hill.
Food-wise there is so much to choose from, and something to suit all budgets. If you are budgeting then there is great Malay food, bangers & mash, falafel and German sausages. For those with a bit more money to burn there is some seriously swanky bars and restaurants including E&O and 192. Some of the most popular dishes sold along the route of the carnival are jerk chicken and goat curry.
- 192, 192 Kensington Park Rd W11 (tube: Notting Hill Gate), ☎ +44 20 7229 0482. Popular with locals and been around since 1982. Mains £15-20.
- E&O, 14 Blenheim Cres W11 1NN, ☎ +44 20 7229 5454 ([email protected]), . Pan Asian food about £30-40 per head.
- Fresco's, 25 Westbourne Gr (tube: Bayswater or Queensway, or buses 7, 23, 27), ☎ +44 20 7221 2355. M-Sa 11:00-23:30, Su 11:00-22:30. It may not look it at first but this is the best Lebanese food in Notting Hill, and certainly the cheapest. Delicious food with a huge variety of fresh juices make this place a must. Eat in or take away. £3-10.
- Geales, 2 Farmer St W8 7SN, ☎ +44 20 7727 7528 ([email protected]), . M-Sa noon-3PM 6PM-11PM, Su 6PM-10:30PM. Fantastic, premium fish and chip restaurant, much favoured by local and out-of-town celebs. Main courses £10-15, cover 50p.
- Kahn's, 13-15 Westbourne Gr W2 (tube: Bayswater or Royal Oak). Very popular and large Indian restaurant, probably not as good as the Standard though.
- New Culture Revolution, 157-159 Notting Hill Gate W11 2LF (tube: Notting Hill Gate), ☎ +44 20 73139688, . Part of a chain specialising in northern Chinese food and noodles and dumplings especially. Good value and popular with students and budget travellers. Mains £5-7.
- Notting Hill Brasserie, 92 Kensington Park Rd W11 2PN (tube: Notting Hill Gate), ☎ +44 20 7229 4481 ([email protected]), . Decidly swanky restaurant (one of the few in Notting Hill serving mixed international food About £60 per head.
- Standard Indian Restaurant, 23 Westbourne Gr (tube: Bayswater or Queensway, or buses 7, 23, 27), ☎ +44 20 7727 4818. noon-15:00, 18:00-midnight. Just what it says on the label: consistently good Indian food. Currently closed, possibly permanently.
- Ledbury is a 2* Michelin restaurant, with exquisite dishes rustled up by talented Aussie chef Brett Graham. Features highly-by food critics, so don't expect cheap bites! Easy to drop £100 in here! 
Populated by the young, hip and rich it is unsurprising that Notting Hill has so many trendy bars. Expect to pay prices that match the location though.
- The Lonsdale, 48 Lonsdale Rd, ☎ +44 20 7727 4080. Like a cocktail bar from the future, the decor in this place is too good to miss. Relatively strict door policy; turn up earlier rather than later if you are not a famous celebrity.
- Beach Blanket Babylon, 45 Ledbury Rd, ☎ +44 20 7229 2907. Beautiful bar with fantastical decor. Quality and service at the restaurant seem to vary wildly, but the bar is usually a safe bet.
- E&O, 14 Blenheim Cres, ☎ +44 20 7229 5454. Japanese influenced restaurant with a stylish bar attached. Great cocktails.
- Elbow Room, 103 Westbourne Gr, ☎ +44 20 7221 5211. A bar with pool tables too, rather than the other way around. Relaxed and friendly.
- The Cow, 89 Westbourne Park Rd, ☎ +44 20 7221 0021. A small and trendy pub/bar with a focus on Guinness.
- The Electric Brasserie, 191 Portobello Rd. Attached to the Electric Cinema this trendy brasserie is a good place for a drink before or after your movie. Very busy Fr/Sa evenings especially.
- Trailer Happiness, 177 Portobello Rd, ☎ +44 20 7727 2700. Intimate and kitsch lounge bar, den and kitchen with the feel of a low rent, mid-60s Los Angeles valley bachelor pad.
- Nandos Chicken land, 58-60 Notting Hill Gate W11 3HT (tube: Notting Hill Gate), ☎ +44 20 7243 1647, . 11:30-23:00. Very popular Afro/Portuguese restaurant concept with branches across the UK. Succulent flame grilled peri-peri chicken with a wide variety of tasty side dishes to choose from. Eat in or take away.
- YHA London Holland Park, Holland Walk, Kensington (tube: High St Kensington), ☎ +44 845 371 9122, . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 11:00. Historic hostel set in the spectacular grounds of Holland Park - a former Jacobean mansion dating back to the 17th Century. £18, £13.50 (under 18).
- Blue Bells hotel, 14 Pembridge Sq W2 4EH (tube: Notting Hill Gate), ☎ +44 20 4257 3379 ([email protected]), . In a converted early Victorian building. 30 rooms on four soteys but no lift. Five minutes walk to Notting Hill Gate and Portobello Rd. From £60.
- Notting Hill Hotel, 2 Pembridge Sq W2 4EW (tube: Notting Hill Gate), ☎ +44 20 7727 1316, . Old converted Victorian building in a quiet square only 5 minutes from Notting Hill Gate. Single, double and family rooms. From £60.
- Umi Hotel, 16 Leinster Square (tube: Bayswater), ☎ +44 20 7221 9131, . On a quiet garden square only 5 minutes walk from Bayswater station. Single, double and family rooms with ensuite bath. A few dormitory rooms. From £80.
- Abbey Court, 20 Pembridge Gdns W2 4FE, . Boutique hotel in a converted Victorian house and decorated in that period style. 22 rooms, no lift. From £90.
- The Gate Hotel, 6 Portobello Rd (Near Notting Hill Gate tube at Pembridge Road end of Portobello Rd, only a few steps away from Portobello Market), ☎ +44 20 7221 0707.
- Westland Hotel, 154 Bayswater Rd W2 (tube: Bayswater), ([email protected]), . Good location on Bayswater Road very close to Kensington Gardens and five minute walk to Notting Hill Gate. From £110.
- Mercure London Kensington, 154 Bayswater Rd W2 (tube: Bayswater), . Mercure London Kensington is minutes from Earls Court, Olympia, exclusive High Street Kensington shopping, Knightsbridge, as well as attractions such as the Natural History, Science and V&A Museums.
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