A little bit of history
Before entrepreneur John Whyte built the Kensington Hippodrome racecourse here in 1837, rural Notting Hill was known for its piggeries and potteries. The racecourse was a failure but it lead to the building of the crescent shaped roads encircling Ladbroke Grove that are still there today. Architect Thomas Allason developed the area for the Ladbroke family, with large private communal gardens shared by surrounding homes. Notting Hill still boasts London's largest community garden. The area began as home to wealthy middle class residents. In the 1900s the grand houses were split into multiple dwellings to accommodate an immigrant workforce from the West Indies. This planted the seeds for the area's bohemian and multicultural roots. Today the area has gentrified, with the once grand homes restored to their former glory.
Need to know
The Notting Hill Carnival first started in 1966 to celebrate Afro-Caribbean culture and traditions. It takes place on the last weekend of August and is now the largest street party in the whole of Europe.
Notting Hill is divided into two separate boroughs, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster. Both have their benefits. A Kensington and Chelsea parking permit is a treasured item, covering everywhere from Notting Hill to Chelsea. But Westminster has the second cheapest council tax in the whole of London.
One of the most enjoyable ways to while away a weekend afternoon in Notting Hill is wandering around the world famous markets, independent boutiques and delicious delis. Hunting for antique and vintage clothes, jewellery and furniture at Portobello Market on a Friday or Saturday morning is a must-do. But if you're more 'next season' than 'last century', local designer boutiques include Paul Smith's flagship store, London's first outpost of Californian designer James Perse, Twenty8Twelve, Maje and Temperly as well as high street favourites Whistles. Make sure your fourlegged friends look as good as you with a trip to the trendy Mutz Nutz pet shop on Westbourne Park Road. If all that shopping leaves you in need of a sugar fix pop to The Hummingbird Bakery for one of their famous cupcakes.
For the more practical side of shopping, Lords in Westbourne Grove is a good reliable hardware store. Baywood chemists are a friendly local chemist. Planet Organic will keep your larder stocked. Jerobeoams in Elgins Crescent is a wine buff's paradise. The Kingsland Edwardian Butcher has, as the name suggests, been around for eons and with good reason ' this is an extremely friendly and reasonably priced family-run butchers. And upmarket fishmongers James Knight of Mayfair has a branch on Notting Hill Gate. Otherwise, to find everything in one place, at Dalesfords on Westbourne Grove.