A Fabulous List of Things to Do in Notting Hill
Wanting to explore the neighbourhood but wondering where to start? Don't worry, we've got you covered with this list of the best things to see and do.
If you’ve seen the classic children’s film Bedknobs and Broomsticks, you’ll no doubt be humming ‘You'll find what you want in the Portobello road’ as you make your way down the famously picturesque street. Notting Hill has something for everyone - you’ll love the antique shops, your kids will love the opportunity to pose for photos outside the famous pastel-coloured houses and you’ll all enjoy the top-notch food on offer. That said, with so many things to see and do, you're likely overwhelmed by where to start. That's where we here at Plum Guide come in to help (shock) with this guide to the best things to do in Notting Hill.
Enjoy the market
It’s a classic for a reason. This street market has been going since the 1940s (and some of what’s on offer looks like it’s been there since the beginning). Vibrant and characterful, Portobello Road Market is home to the largest antiques market in the world, with vendors out every Friday and Saturday. The market has evolved to also sell street food, fashion, homeware and many other homemade goods and trinkets. Start at the top, near Notting Hill Gate station, and make your way all the way down past Ladbroke Grove to get the most authentic experience. Packed with tourists, it’s no less special for being busy.
Buy a record at Rough Trade
If you nursed any punk rocker ambitions in your youth (and who didn’t?) this is the spot for you. The original Rough Trade opened here in 1976and it feels much the same as ever. From rare cuts to more modern albums to classics, this place has it all. It continues to champion indie labels and artists who are just starting out - so who knows, you might well pick up a recording of the next big thing without ever realising.
Catch a film at Electric Cinema
Notting Hill's Electric Cinema is one of London’s oldest cinemas, and it’s probably the most beautiful, too. A perfect romantic spot, we recommend reserving one of the sofas or even a bed to impress your date - whether it’s the first time you’re going out together or you’ve been married 20 years, the charm remains the same. It’s owned by Soho House, so you know that everything will be top quality and super-luxurious. The cinema has been sympathetically restored and is now a red velvet-lined cornucopia of comfort, with cashmere blankets, vintage lamps and delicious cocktails available seat side. Plum tip: don’t head to the loo right before the film starts or you’ll miss the highly entertaining and celebrity-filled welcome reel. After the credits roll, head next door to Electric Diner to discuss the finer points of the plots over burgers and mozzarella sticks before heading back to your gorgeous Plum home like Orpheus and Eurydice. Definitely one of the best things to do in Notting Hill.
Sink into a new book
As well as lending its name to the famous movie (make a pilgrimage to Hugh Grant’s front door, found at the junction of Portobello Road and Westbourne Park Road, if you’ve always secretly loved rom coms) Notting Hill is rightly famous for its bookshops. The Notting Hill Bookshop (a good all-rounder with a well-known exterior) Books for Cooks (a cookbook lover’s paradise with a cafe to advertise its wares) and Lutyens & Rubinstein (owned by the publisher of the same name, all the books here are reader-recommended) are all ideal places to spend an afternoon browsing to your heart’s content until your to-buy pile of books gets too high and topples onto the floor.
Eat and drink to your heart’s content
Notting Hill is overflowing with street food, Michelin starred meals and fabulous pastries and cakes, and there’s a cosy pub on practically every corner. From the flower-covered Churchill Arms (your kids will love to selfie here) to seafood specialists The Cow to gin enthusiasts The Distillery, a pub crawl here would see staggering home very worse for wear. You definitely shouldn’t miss eating out on your things to do in Notting Hill itinerary. For modern cuisine, head out from your Plum Guide home like Lola to artsy hangout Farmacy for brunch, where the menu is free from gluten, sugar, and chemicals of all kinds (but it’s certainly not free of deliciousness).
Dance through the streets
It comes but once a year, but when Carnival arrives, it really arrives. Famous the world over, Notting Hill Carnival has been held since 1966 and is Europe’s biggest street festival. It showcases the area’s rich and varied past, and celebrates the Caribbean community that settled here and made it their home. It’s also some of the best fun you can have in London. Held on the August bank holiday Sunday and Monday, Carnival features a vast, colourful parade as well as 36 street sound systems, all competing to see who can blast their music the loudest and get revellers to dance the hardest. Spread throughout Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park, we recommend that you grab a Red Stripe and some jerk chicken and see where the day takes you. Finally, you can dance as much as you want in public and no-one will laugh at you.