Notting Hill is an affluent and cosmopolitan west London district to the north of Kensington and is in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It is famous for its annual carnival and for being the location of the Portobello Road Market. Dotted with appealing, independent boutiques and a mix of restaurants. It is a pretty area, with large Victorian terraced houses, many of which have now been split into numerous flats. The hill after which the area is named is still clearly visible – its summit is in the middle of Ladbroke Grove at its junction with Kensington Park Gardens. Richard Curtis’s Hollywood Blockbuster, Notting Hill, brought international fame to the area, and was filmed in the North Kensington neighbourhood.
August's annual Notting Hill Carnival contributes nearly £100 million to the economy each year
Since the early noughties, as with everywhere else, Notting Hill’s independent boutiques have had to struggle hard against an influx of multinational chains. There was a demonstration against the opening of Starbucks, nevertheless it maintains its position on Portobello Road – locals cited it as responsible for the closure of over ten independent cafes. Similarly from a retail perspective, the indoor antiques market of Lipka’s Arcade was taken over in 2009 by high street chain All Saints, although there was less resistance from locals to this London-based brand. Portobello Market, however remains a permanent feature and attracts visitors in their millions throughout the year. It is one of London’s top tourist attractions. Eateries and bars are supported by this retail influx, and the area continues to thrive. Portobello is one of London’s best known markets, and famous for its antique and vintage sections, as well as fruit and vegetable, clothing and homeware stalls. Westbourne Grove and Ledbury Road provide endless independent boutiques catering for the more expensive tastes, and designer wares jostle for position and deep pockets. Locals enjoy the use of two nearby large and beautiful London open spaces: Holland Park and Kensington Gardens, while Hyde Park is only a mile away. There is a huge concentration of restaurants in Notting Hill, many of which hold the coveted Michelin star and prices can reflect the area’s affluence.
Notting Hill businesses largely focus around food and drink, property, professional services and boutiques as well as catering for the huge amount of tourists that are attracted to the area each year. It is on London Underground’s Central Line, which gives residents easy access to the rest of what London has to offer, from both professional and personal perspectives. August’s annual Notting Hill Carnival contributes nearly £100 million to the London and UK economy each year, and local businesses are geared up to take advantage of the three-day influx over the August Bank Holiday. Since 1965 the Caribbean population has led the carnival, and it is one of the largest street festivals in Europe, attracting millions of visitors. It passes along the central part of Westbourne Grove.
You need deep pockets to live in Notting Hill – property prices are high, and eating and drinking out can be expensive too. It has a reputation for being one of London’s most desirable areas due to its stunning architecture and open spaces. Many of the large houses have been split into flats, and those that remain as one dwelling can command price tags that reflect their rarity and exclusivity. A house in Notting Hill can cost well over £4 million. Having said that, Notting Hill manages to retain a village-like feel, and the Notting Hill ‘set’ are more of a community than might be found elsewhere. Many of the houses have large private communal gardens, which are enclosed by terraces and crescents of houses, and offer much-needed green space to wealthy residents, most of which are secluded from the roadside. The crescent-shaped roads owe their shape to the edges of the long gone Hippodrome racecourse, which ran around the hill, and bystanders watched from the summit. Upon its closure, houses were built on the site, and therefore curved. Living in Notting Hill, it is impossible to miss the annual carnival, indeed many residents are afforded the luxury of watching the carnival passing by as they view it from their balconies and terraces. Slightly cheaper housing can be found in North Kensington, which still contains social housing, unlike most of the principal Notting Hill areas. Waves of immigration have taken place over the last century, and now Notting Hill has residents from Ireland, the Caribbean, Spain and Morocco, amongst others. The population continues to renew on an almost daily basis, making Notting Hill arguably one of the most cosmopolitan areas in the world.
There are four underground stations in the area: Westbourne Park, Ladbroke Grove, Latimer Road and Notting Hill Gate. These offer easy and quick links into central London, as well as to mainline train stations and airports.
Ladbroke Grove is the area’s main thoroughfare, and it is easily reached from Western Avenue from the North Circular Road to the West and from Edgware Road to the East.
The nearest train stations are Shepherds Bush and Kensal Green and provide local London overground services. There are three nearby tube stations: Notting Hill Gate, Ladbroke Grove and Holland Park providing good connections to the rest of London.
Buses operate throughout Notting Hill including the area’s main roads such as Notting Hill Gate, Westbourne Grove, Kensington Park Road and more.
Nearest airports are London City Airport and Heathrow Airport.