Thanks to the charm and magic of a certain ’90s movie, the London district of Notting Hill has been etched onto every tourist’s mental map as a fashionable and quintessentially London destination. Whether you want to peruse chic boutiques, rummage for that ideal antique or simply have a go at icing a cupcake, there is plenty to do in this quirky West London area.
Wander down Portobello Road, browsing the vintage stalls
This vibrant street forms the backbone of Notting Hill and is flanked by colourful terraced houses on Lancaster Road, contemporary murals in Codrington Mews and luxurious boutiques on Westbourne Grove. Portobello is home to the largest antiques market in the world, with more than 1,000 dealers tending to hordes of tourists and shoppers every Saturday. In the 1940s, vintage sellers joined the traditional food stalls and rag-and-bone traders. The market hit a dip for a while thereafter, but began to thrive again in the 1980s and has been a popular destination for shoppers ever since. It is still a fantastic place to pick up one-of-a-kind items, as are the permanent shops and eateries that now line the street.
This shrine to confectionery creates every conceivable type of sweet treat, from elaborately iced cakes and personalised chocolates to an incredible selection of lavishly decorated biscuits. Not only is Biscuiteers the perfect place to pick up a special gift, they also offer afternoon tea, as well as the Biscuiteers School of Icing, where you can learn to create your own deliciously intricate masterpieces.
This specialist gallery represents work from some of the greatest urban artists in the world, including Banksy, Stik and The Dotmaster. They also host exhibitions and special workshops that give groups the opportunity to try out graffiti and stencil processes for themselves. Graffik Gallery is instantly recognisable by the specially commissioned three-storey mural that adorns the shopfront, which was painted by The Dotmaster.
Step into Luytens and Rubenstein and get lost in literature
Founded in 2009 by literary agents, Lutyens and Rubinstein is a wonderful bookshop that features hundreds of fiction and non-fiction titles, including children’s stories, art and poetry. With a commitment to considered and expert service, they offer personal shoppers for anyone with a gift voucher of more than £100. Bibliophiles can look into their mail order services, including A Year In Books and A Year With One Author. There is also plenty on offer beyond the printed page, including a crockery range and tote bags.
The Sussex-born Gladwin Brothers have employed the farm-to-fork principle at their seasonal modern restaurant, the first of three West London establishments. All of the dishes are created using fresh British produce, much of which comes from the farm belonging to one of the brothers. The menu changes daily and is divided into slow and fast cooking.
The original Rough Trade record shop opened in 1976 in the midst of the punk revolution. It remains there today, just off Portobello Road, though there are now additional sites across the UK and even one in New York City. The store continues to champion independent record labels and emerging artists, and they stock a host of rare and limited-edition vinyl offerings, too.