When travelgasm.com suggests that you follow in Hugh Grant's footsteps, we are, of course, referring to his role in the classic 1999 film Notting Hill rather than his 1995 dalliance in Hollywood. To follow in those less salubrious footsteps in London one would instead need to go to the grimy back streets of Soho rather than the posh streets of Notting Hill.
Notting Hill wasn't always posh, but it was on the way up by the 1990s, and the film made the neighbourhood famous internationally. Although most of the area is nice now, it still feels a bit rougher (and has a large number of CCTV cameras) on Golborne Road if you approach the once notorious — but far less notorious now — Trellick Tower council estate. That portion of the neighbourhood is too far out of the way for all but the biggest fans of Brutalist architecture, though.
The main draw for tourists to Notting Hill, other than spotting locations from the film, is the Portobello Market. Established in the 19th century, the Portobello Market and its smaller sister Golborne Market are great places to shop if you want to find something that is potentially more interesting than typical tourist tat. The street markets and surrounding shops have plenty of antiques, collectibles, household items, and new and used clothing as well as street food vendors who sell a variety of relatively inexpensive international food choices. If street food isn't your style, there are no shortage of proper restaurants near the Portobello Market as well, albeit at higher prices.
The Portobello Market is at its busiest on Friday and Saturday, so that is the best time to go if you want to experience it at its peak. The street is sleepy on Thursday afternoon and Sunday when most street vendors are closed, so these are not good times to visit. However, on other weekdays around lunch time there still are plenty of stores, cafes and some street vendors open for business and it is a good time to show up if you would prefer to avoid the largest crowds. Be sure to double check the official neighbourhood website for particular hours and events like the famous Notting Hill Carnival each August.
We've mapped out our favourite walk below, which includes the heart of the Portobello Market, the location of the book store in the movie as well as the actual book store that inspired the film (now under new ownership and with books on general subjects rather than just travel) and a couple of charming residential side streets. If you're really into British rom-coms, there also is a three-hour guided bus tour of sites from Notting Hill, Bridget Jones's Diary, and Love Actually that might also be of interest.
How to Get Here: Take the Central (Red), Circle (Yellow), or District (Green) line to Notting Hill Gate Station. Take the North Side Exit. After exiting the station, walk straight on Holland Park Avenue and turn right on Pembridge Road. With our suggested walk below, you easily can leave via Holland Park Station on the Central line or enjoy the pleasant walk on Holland Park Avenue back around to Notting Hill Gate for the Circle or District line. If you want a shorter walk, you could instead leave via Ladbroke Grove Station on the Circle or Hammersmith & City line.
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