The Idealist

Insider Shopping Guide: Notting Hill

Notting Hill has etched a special place in the modern British imagination. Today, it’s a mosaic of handsome stucco-fronted houses and pastel facades, which themselves are ornamented by chic cafes, boutiques and florists. And as if the place was not charming enough already, Notting Hill’s stint with Hollywood has deepened the spell its seems to cast on tourists, who frequent the London district on the hunt for that elusive blue door belonging to a young, curtain-haired Hugh Grant. With that said, it’s hard to imagine that Notting Hill was in dire straits only a mere fifty years ago.

Having moved to the area in 1963, Bruce Kendrick was so shocked by the poor living conditions seen in the area that he founded the Notting Hill Housing Trust, which in the years to follow would provide affordable, quality housing to residents both in the area and around the capital. Nevertheless, through both financial thick and thin, the district has always been a multicultural one. Notting Hill has prominent Afro-Caribbean, Portuguese, Spanish and Moroccan communities nestled within its leafy postcodes. The now world-famous Notting Hill Carnival gets millions flocking to the district every August, celebrating Notting Hill’s distinctly cosmopolitan identity.

Shopping

Whether it’s the area’s photogenic cobbled streets or long and winding market lanes that bring you here, one mustn’t forget that Notting Hill can also deliver on cool interior and antique finds for your home. We’ve shortlisted a few of our favourites that you really must check out when in the area.

At the end of Pembridge Villas, you’ll find Gotham. The brainchild of couple Dan Lonergan and Penney Frohling, Gotham’s showroom contains a carefully selected selection of furniture, bespoke lighting and accessories. It’s a must for deco-inspired pieces by classic French manufacturer Hughes Chevalier, for whom Gotham are the country’s sole supplier. They also carry lines such as Knoll, Bruno Moinard, Pouenat and Kevin Reilly Lighting to name only a few. Gotham is a must for those after mid-century modern, oriental, and classical European themed touches for your home.

If vintage fabrics are on the cards, you’ll be hard pressed to do better than the The Cloth Shop. Since opening in 1980, the shop has been known for their fine collection of fabrics and the excellence of their service, which have made them favourites of the city’s top interior designers and antiques dealers. The Cloth Shop stock an eclectic mix of gorgeous antique linens, vintage quilts and other various, natural fibre fabrics. The staff are highly knowledgeable, and can advise you in the way of measurements, suitability of fabrics and can also recommend curtain makers, upholsterers and dressmakers if so required.

A bit further down at No. 82 Portobello Road you’ll find the boutique of Henry Gregory; it’s a must for lovers of all things antique, quirky and original. The shop boasts a collection of Victorian to vintage quality antiques, all of which has been personally sourced by Henry Gregory himself over the last 40 years. The shop’s exquisite collection changes continuously as they sell and ship to a loyal clientele from all over the world. From classically-styled accent pieces to wildcard curiosities, all can be found at Henry Gregory.

Just down the road, at No. 86, you’ll find the world-famous Alice’s. Established in 1887, Alice’s of Portobello is a renowned, family-owned Antiques dealers. Stocking anything from priceless antiques, reproduction goods, furniture and original art work, it’s highly likely you’ll find that something to breathe new life into your home. Their friendly and knowledgeable staff can arrange for local delivery for you, in the event you buy so much that you cannot carry it all.

For lovers of contemporary art-glass and decorative lighting, Vessel is an absolute must. Founded in 1999, the gallery features the best glasswork from Scandinavia, Italy and Britain. The gallery makes it a point to foster local talent, working with both emerging and established studio artists in the production of bespoke work in glass as well as other mediums.  With numerous artworks having entered prestigious public collections, you can be assured the work on display here is best in glass.

Let’s Eat

Notting Hill’s many restaurants pack as much character as its picturesque streets, and their many culinary offerings serve to reflect the district’s vibrant community and history.

Boasting two Michelin Stars and having taken the number 27 ranking of this year’s San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants, it’s fair to say that The Ledbury has something of a reputation when it comes to culinary excellence. The brainchild of chef Brett Graham, The Ledbury provides a quintessential fine dining experience, offering some of the best contemporary British and continental cuisine to be found anywhere. So as to avoid disappointment, booking in advance is highly recommended.

Taking its inspiration from the pintxo bars of Barcelona and San Sebastian, Pix offers a masterfully orchestrated Spanish dining experience. A tantalising selection of miniature tapas is their chief attraction, inspired by the bar snacks of the Basque-country. Paired with some of the best wines, Cava, and ciders that the sun-kissed country has to offer, Pix ensures an authentically Spanish dining experience.

Brimming with cool island spirit, Cottons offers an a nouvelle cuisine Caribbean culinary experience, taking its inspiration from the islands of Jamaica, Margarita and St. Lucia. With A La Carte and Set Menus available, a taste of the Caribbean can easily be customised to your personal tastes and preferences. Cotton’s is also the proud owner of the Guinness World Record for the most amount of rums commercially available- which is 372, if you were wondering.

An institution amongst the city’s foodies, Ottolenghi offers a fun and vibrant spin on Middle Eastern cuisine. Perfect for breakfasts and lunches, the menu changes daily. Featuring signature platters, greens and continental pastries, it won’t be difficult to find something you’ll fall in love with.

Getting Here & Places to Stay

A relatively central district of the city, Notting Hill is tremendously well connected to the rest of the city. Numerous bus services run both to and through the district, along with tube stations such as Holland Park, High Street Kensington and Notting Hill Gate, which are all in close proximity to the bustle and action.

If you’re staying over, then with roots going as far back as 1860, the Victorian Grade II listed Villa that is The Abbey Court bursts with both history and character. Dating from circa 1860, this Grade II listed Victorian “Villa” was once a private residence. Today however, the boutique townhouse hotel boasts twenty two bedrooms spread across five floors. Ensuite bathrooms feature spa baths, showers and Carrera marble surfaces. Just a two minute away from Notting Hill Gate, both Notting Hill and London is pretty much at The Abbey Court’s doorstep. Start your day with their continental breakfast, and you’re good to go.

Just around the corner from Notting Hill Gate, you’ll find The Laslett. The hotel draws its inspiration from Notting Hill itself, capturing the energy and character of its locale. The Laslett seamlessly blends Notting Hill’s multicultural heritage with a playful modernity. The Laslett’s luxurious rooms feature Pinch and Race, British designed furniture, bespoke lighting, curated artworks and antiques and textiles by Eleanor Pritchard and Vanderhurd. With its lobby resembling more a local haunt for the young and trendy, you’ll be sure to get an authentically Notting Hill experience during your stay here.

Situated at twenty-two Stanley Gardens, The Portobello Hotel is only a stone’s throw away to most of Notting Hill’s many attractions. Its twenty-one, individually designed rooms reflect the energy and adorably eccentric charm of Notting Hill. Featuring a full size Green & Spring bath, body products and a continental breakfast, The Portobello Hotel exudes comfort and luxury.

Notting Hill is both a city district and celebration of modern Britain all at the same time. While, at times, it can resemble something from a postcard, Notting Hill can also be fiery, and very youthful in its outlooks and self-projection. The same can be said for what can be found here for your home. You’d be surprised just what, and perhaps how much, can be found in both the areas boutiques and lengthy market lanes.

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Featured Image Copyright: Marcogovel / 123RF Stock Photo

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  • Nigel is a writer and journalist living in London. He loves music, literature and architecture. Since moving to London to study, he’s yet to kick his honeymoon phase with the city, and when not working, can consequently be found making the most of what London has to offer. He maintains that Billy Joel is one of the greatest and most critically misunderstood singer-songwriters of our time. So far, he has found 3 other people that agree with him.

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