To celebrate the month of love, blogger Little Miss Notting Hill takes us on a walking tour of her favourite parts of west London
I’ve been having a love affair with Notting Hill since starting our relationship when I moved in eight years ago, and I love it more every time I wander down the pastel-coloured streets, stop for brunch at one of my locals on a weekend morning or discover a new shop I’ve never been in before.
It has so much more to offer than just the market on Portobello Road that it’s most famous for and so, in celebration of Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share some of my very favourite places that I’ve come across over the years.
Who knows? Perhaps we’ll set someone else off on a love affair with west London.
Rather than brave the craziness of Oxford Street, Westfield or the Kings Road, I always recommend that people head to Notting Hill instead. There’s everything you need from high street (pop into Whiteleys on Queensway), to the more boutique shops on Westbourne Grove – favourites being Wolf and Badger and Club Monaco.
The Dayrooms is a new addition to the area that is now a firm favourite; a stunning concept store selling Australian brands with everything from clothes, candles, pastel-hued home ware and accessories. If you’re simply looking to have a mooch around, head to Aesop for some incredible beauty products or Diptyqe for your new candle or that little gift for someone special.
There are so many food places in Notting Hill, so it seemed like the perfect place to start our tour. There’s a new restaurant or cafe opening up pretty much every month now and although I love trying out the newbies, I’m always drawn to old haunts.
Goode and Wright is a small authentic French restaurant near the top of Portobello that is equally brilliant for breakfast, lunch or dinner. If you’re looking for a date night in the area that won’t fail you at any time of day, this is the place to try. Osteria Basilico is my husband and I’s favourite Italian in the area – try the spaghetti vongole with a glass of Malbec and you won’t be disappointed, I promise.
The best thing about the food options in the area though is the sheer choice on offer here. Simply fancy a pizza? Head to Franco Manca on Westbourne Grove. Hankering after a Mexican? Book into Peyotito and enjoy guacamole, ceviche and some of the best margaritas in town. Vegan or vegetarian? Then tuck into some delicious healthy options at Farmacy or Redemption. Jusu Brothers juice bar is also a favourite after a weekend morning workout.
There’s also nothing I love more than a brunch spot and there’s nowhere better for it that Notting Hill on the weekend – try either Eggbreak, 202 cafe (great for celeb spotting and interior inspo) or the Electric Diner for a proper English breakfast. If it’s just a cake stop you’re looking for, try Lowry and Baker for a slice of cake and a cup of some of the best coffee in the area, all served on quaint mismatched crockery.
One of the things that I love most about Notting Hill is the proximity to parks. With both Hyde Park and Holland Park on the doorstep, you can easily escape the busier streets and experience some of London’s prettiest greenery.
My personal regular escape stroll is to head to the Kyoto Gardens in Holland Park, with a chai tea latte in hand and with a good podcast or soundtrack in my headphones. Another lovely form of escapism is to duck into the Museum of Brands on Lancaster Road – it’s a fascinating and underrated little museum showcasing the history of packaging and advertising and is so much more fun that it sounds. There’s the cutest little shop there that’s great to pick up gifts for friends, family or bits for the home.
And what about something a little bit different for date night this month? This is where Notting Hill really comes into its own, as there is so much diversity and choice when it comes to different things to do in the area.
Perhaps for a day date, you could explore the antique shops. The famous antiques market on Portobello is, of course, a must for any Notting hill newbie, but there are also incredible antique stores to explore too. My favourites are Alice’s, Phoenix on Golborne and Jensen and Ballantine; I highly recommend a visit to any of these if you’re interested in interior design too.
For those of you on a first date, then snuggle up in the Electric Cinema on Portobello, an institution in the area and one that I think is the best cinema in London. Splash out when you want to watch a film you’re really excited about and book one of the beds, snuggle under the complimentary blankets they give you and order a cocktail – it’s cinema perfection.
My husband and I love The Laslett for an overnight stay and escape, which is a fabulous boutique hotel and offers some serious interior design inspiration for those budding designers out there. Before you go, get beautified at Samantha Cuisick – where else can you get your highlights retouched whilst being served complimentary glitter cocktails and popcorn? A true taste of Notting Hill, a place that always goes that one step further.