On my recent visit to London I spent a day exploring the charming area of Notting Hill and infamous Portobello Road. On Saturdays this area is a frenzy of food, fashion, and contagious energy. Known for it’s colorful homes and the world’s largest antique market, Notting Hill and Portobello Road draws tourists from all across the globe. It was the perfect way to spend my first full day in London.
Portobello Road & Antiques Market
The main market day for antiques is on Saturday, the only day where all five sections of the market are open. There you can find second-hand goods, clothing and fashion, household essentials, fruit, vegetables and specialty food, and of course, antiques. I was here on one of the quieter days, so I was able to explore all of the specialty shops and restaurants without the bustling crowds.
Friday’s and Saturday’s are the two busiest days for the Portobello Market. The streets are filled with local vendors looking to sell to curious visitors. Portobello Road runs nearly the length of Notting Hill, just under 1,000 meters long. That is roughly the length of 10 football fields, just to give you some perspective. I recommend stopping at Farm Girl Cafe where you can warm up with a Rose Latte and slice of their delicious Avocado Toast. You can read all about this gorgeous cafe in my previous blog post here.
Notting Hill itself is one of the more upscale districts in West London. Commonly known by the classic 90’s movie, Notting Hill starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, this neighborhood is just as charming as the movie depicts. The neighborhood was built around the Ladbroke Gardens, which was named after the main landowner James Weller Ladbroke in the early 19th century. Today many of the roads in Notting Hill bear his name.
Ladbroke Square, which is located in the very heart of Notting Hill, is the largest private garden square in London. At the time of it’s construction many members of the upper middle class began to move out of their homes in the upscale areas of Mayfair and Belgravia to Notting Hill. Today Notting Hill is one of the most culturally vibrant and desirable areas to live in all of London, and is home to some of London’s most wealthy residents.
The energy and cosmopolitan atmosphere play a large part in the market’s appeal. While the market is certainly a must see, I found the architecture of Notting Hill to be just as special. I spent the afternoon walking around taking photographs of front doors. Here you will find some of the most picturesque homes in the city.
Even in the middle of one of the world’s largest cities you can still find plenty of greenery. Nearly all of the tiny front yards were filled with over grown flowers and snaking vines that crawl up the facade of the buildings. It is definitely one of the most beautiful neighborhoods I have ever seen.
This neighborhood also boasts many excellent shops and eateries. On the walk back to our Hotel in Mayfair we stopped at Daylesford Cafe for tea. This shop has an adorable home store on the bottom floor and a grocery in the front. There were tons of organic goodies from their farm available for purchase and on the menu.
Inside the decor is quirky, classic and rustic. The walls were one of my favorite features. They were all plastered with these amazing tree rings of various sizes. I warmed up with a hot cup of Matcha Tea and spent a generous amount of time exploring the home store downstairs.
Notting Hill is the perfect introduction to London for first timers. On the weekdays the area is far less crowded and busy, which make it the perfect daytime destination. One of the highlights of my trip was strolling along the empty streets here. There is something to admire at every turn, which also makes for plenty of photo opportunities.
Few cities have charmed me quite like London. I hope these pictures will inspire you to visit on your next trip to London.