Lancaster Hall Hotel Self Guided Walking Tour of Notting Hill
Updated: May 4
Notting Hill really sums up why London is such a special place in that there are no spectacular museums, monuments or buildings as such but it has a unique character which has attracted artistic types that seem to keep it constantly fresh and in the mode.
Built predominantly during the Victorian period it consists of elegant streets with beautiful houses worth a King’s ransom as Bankers, Media types and the young and affluent flock to the area to live. Portobello Road is the beating heart, surrounded by pubs, bars and restaurants both traditional and trendy. The 1999 film of the same name turbo-charged the popularity of the neighbourhood and it hasn’t looked back since. A visit to Notting Hill is a must on any London travel itinerary. The best day by far to visit is a Saturday with Sunday a distant second. Be prepared to wander and observe the sights, sounds and smells of this eclectic borough. Our tour starts at the Lancaster Hall Hotel in the neighbouring borough of Bayswater, a short walk, or bus ride away.
Notting Hill Gate
Most people arriving in Notting Hill arrive at Notting Hill Gate either by bus or tube. It is a bustling intersection especially on a Saturday which is the busiest day for the Portobello Market.
If you are travelling from the Lancaster Hall Hotel, turn left along Craven Terrace and onto Lancaster Gate, before turning right onto Bayswater Road. We recommend walking inside Kensington Gardens to avoid the traffic for a few minutes. The walk takes 15 to 20 minutes, alternatively you can take a 94 or 148 bus, or take the Central Line on the tube, either of which take 5 to 10 minutes.
Notting Hill Gate to Portobello Road
At Notting Hill Gate take the exit directing you to Portobello Road and take either Pembridge Gardens or Pembridge Road. Pembridge Gardens is a quieter road and you can admire the grand white stuccoed Victorian villas that are typical of Notting Hill. At the end of Pembridge Gardens turn left and then right when you see the yellow pub named ‘The Sun in Splendour’.
Alternatively, Pembridge Road is a bustling thoroughfare of shops, restaurants and gift shops. At the zebra crossing turn left onto the Portobello Road.
The first section of Portobello Road is very quiet and consists mainly of pretty town houses on the right-hand side.
Early on, there is a house with a blue plaque denoting that this was once the home of George Orwell, one of England’s most celebrated authors. If you haven’t read his seminal works of 1984 and Animal Farm then we recommend you pick up a copy, these are books you will never forget.
Portobello Road Market – Antiques Section
The end of this block, where the road Chepstow Villas crosses, marks the start of the main Portobello Road Market. This is the first section of the market and is mainly dedicated to antiques with a mix of market stalls, shops and arcades selling a variety of collectibles.
Alice's is a favourite for Instagram pictures with a wide array of eye-catching antiques and architectural salvage which stretches around the corner into Denbigh Close, typical of the area with its pretty mews houses. As you walk further down Portobello Road you will see a variety of things for sale, be it a set of antique cutlery or a more modest keepsake to remind you of your visit.
The antiques stalls of Portobello Road market began to appear in the 1940’s but food stalls had been around for some time before. Today it is reputed to have over 1,000 stalls and shops and to be the largest antiques market in the world. The main market day is Saturday and it starts to get busy from 10am onwards.
On crossing Westbourne Grove, next to the Earl of Lonsdale pub, the market turns to a more eclectic mix of bric-a-brac, from toy soldiers to vintage cameras.
All in all, Portobello Road market is highly entertaining, with stall holders who are very friendly and chatty, a huge array of bars and food on offer and something for everyone in the market, be it the young looking for vintage clothes or older folk recognising the toys they used to play with as children.
Portobello Road Market – Food Section
At the Elgin Crescent / Colville Terrace crossroads, where you see the Duke of Wellington pub, the food section of the market begins, starting with fruit and vegetable stalls along with breads, cakes, fish and cheese.
In recent years there seems to be more street food which you can consume on the go. In addition, the shops in this section are probably the most high-end on the whole of the Portobello Road, with boutiques, vintage clothing and artisan coffee. Our favourites on this section are Coffee Plant in the morning and The Distillary in the afternoon.
Portobello Road Market - New goods section
As Talbot Road crosses the Portobello Road the market becomes more eclectic again with discounted new household items giving way to vintage clothing, artisan jewellery and second-hand goods.
We recommend taking a left turn into the Portobello Garden Arcade which is a characterful Italian restaurant and takeaway.
Portobello Road Market – Food & Flea market
Just under the Westway (which is a main road passing overhead) there are a whole of row of street-food stalls from around the world, with a wide variety of tempting dishes bubbling away on stoves.
Passing further on, the market takes on a more rustic, less commercial feel with open air stalls selling vintage furniture and bric-a-brac. This theme continues as the Portobello market ends and it meets the Golborne Road.
The Golborne Road is perfect for flea market addicts with more informal stalls running alongside the road. Less visited by tourists, it has a more authentic London feel and is well worth the extra walk. The shops are independent, selling fish and chips, vintage clothes and food with both Moroccan and Portuguese influences.
We particularly like Les Couilles Du Chien where you can find an excellent array of interesting objects. Golborne Road is in the shadow of the Trellick Tower which is a very distinct block of flats built in a brutalist style, admired and disliked by architecture aficionados alike.
Lancaster Road Pastel Coloured Houses
Having taken in the sights of Golborne Road, we recommend retracing your steps back down Portobello Road as far as Lancaster Road where you will see a face painted on the Ukai bar (which incidentally is a lively bar with live music and a great place to take in an early evening drink on a Saturday evening).
From here, turn left up Lancaster Road until you come across the pastel-coloured houses on both sides of the street. This has become a popular spot in recent years and is probably one of the prettiest rows of colourful houses. From here, take a right turn onto All Saints Road and on the left, you will see St. Luke’s Mews.
St. Luke’s Mews
Mews houses were originally servants' and horse accommodation for the adjoining houses. Today they are invariably terraced houses and, in the case of St. Luke’s Mews, are set on a pretty cobbled road. St. Luke’s has to be the most photographed mews in Notting Hill and appeared in the 2003 film Love Actually with Hugh Grant. The pink house on the right provides a particularly popular background.
Powis Gardens, Colville Gardens & Colville Road
The next section is a winding walk through typical Notting Hill streets. At the end of All Saints Road make a short left and right turn onto Powis Gardens where there is a mural on the side of a house. Walk past the grand Victorian houses on the left until you see All Saints Church on your left. From here turn right and left onto Colville Gardens and continue straight along this road and Colville Road. This runs parallel to Portobello Road until you come to a zebra crossing and a green tiled building on your left which is a florist. From here you are at the start of Westbourne Grove.
If you have had enough walking there is a bus stop next to the florist's. Here you can take a number 23 bus all the way back to Paddington and a few minutes from the Lancaster Hall Hotel. If you are in the mood for adventure then keep walking, this street is full of life and interest but is not really on the tourist trail. This end of Westbourne Grove is full of high-end cafes and shops.
Grab a table outside Daylesford Organic or 202 and watch the Notting Hill elite go about their daily business. Wander past the church on your left and take in all the independent shops and boutiques along the way. When you come to Needham Road on your left, you will find the Cock and Bottle pub, of which we are great fans, at the end of the street on the left. On a warm evening sit outside on a bench and rub shoulders with the locals.
Further on, Westbourne Grove becomes more business-like with bicycle shops and builders’ merchants, but still with art galleries and exotic delis along the way. Keep going, past Queensway until you reach Gloucester Terrace upon which you turn left and head back to the hotel.
Notting Hill Tour Map
You can either click on the link below for the map which you can send to your mobile phone, or navigate from the map below
Notting Hill Frequently Asked Questions.
Where is Notting Hill?
Notting Hill is in the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea which is in the west of London, adjacent to Westminster. The nearest tube station is Notting Hill Gate on the Central Line which is in Zone 2.
Why is Notting Hill Famous?
Whilst Notting Hill was already popular among Londoners seeking cheaper houses in central London during the 1980s and the Portobello Road Market, it was the 1999 film Notting Hill with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant that catapulted the area to global fame. With its elegant Victorian architecture, it hasn’t had to work too hard to look good, and with the innovative bars and restaurants alongside some of the best traditional pubs in London, the area has become a magnet for the trendy crowd.
Is Notting Hill safe at Night?
The same rules apply in Notting Hill as for the rest of Central London. The centre is mostly safe including after dark, but one should always be careful about having valuables on display as there are always opportunist thieves who might snatch a phone or handbag, especially if left unattended. Towards the end of the evening, when bars are emptying, is probably another time to pay extra care in order to avoid the occasional drunken brawl but otherwise it is relatively safe.
Is Notting Hill Expensive?
In terms of drinking and eating there is a venue to cater for most budgets and the pubs are no more expensive than anywhere else in central London. The same holds true for accommodation, although of course we recommend staying in the adjoining Bayswater at the Lancaster Hall Hotel, where your money will stretch further. Housing is another matter, where prices are stratospheric and a glimpse in any estate agent’s window will show some very long numbers indeed.
Is Notting Hill a posh area?
Notting Hill has some very posh houses but, generally speaking, it is not as posh as some of its well-heeled neighbours such as Kensington & Chelsea and Knightsbridge. Its residents are on the whole certainly affluent, but the area is less formal and has a more eclectic mix of people.
How far is Notting Hill from Central London?
Trafalgar Square, or more accurately, outside of Charing Cross Station is generally considered the centre of London. Notting Hill is in West London and about 30 minutes away on the tube. Alternatively, we recommend a bike ride which takes about 25 minutes through the parks and mostly along cycle lanes. Our family cycle ride covers most of the way.
When is Notting Hill Carnival?
The Notting Hill Carnival takes place over the August Bank Holiday weekend which is usually the last Monday in the month. The official events take place on the Sunday and the Monday but celebrations start on the Saturday. For up-to-date details go to the official site here
Is Notting Hill Zone 1 or 2?
You can arrive at the top of Notting Hill at Westbourne Park tube station on the Hammersmith & City or Circle Lines which are in Zone 2. Notting Hill Gate tube station sits on the border between Zone 1 and 2 which means if you are travelling from central London your fare will be cheaper. In any case, if you are using a TfL Travelcard then there will be no difference in cost.