24 hours in romantic Notting Hill
Insider Guide by Ginza co-founder Sarah Ahern
Notting Hill has to be one of my favourite parts of London. It is a neighbourhood of contrasts, which, to me, illustrate in a unique way what it means to be a Londoner today.
Nothing Hill is both local and cosmopolitan, bohemian and upscale, quiet and lively, traditional and avant-garde. The neighbourhood truly has something to offer every taste, and this guide is an effort to reflect its diversity.
Breakfast: grab a coffee and croissant to go from Sally Clarke shop
Clarke’s on Kensington Church Street is something of a Notting Hill institution. The restaurant is now over 30 years old, and for 15 of those years, the artist Lucian Freud took his breakfast and lunch at its premises. I’m not too proud to admit that I always glance through the window when walking by to check for famous faces - and am frequently rewarded with a celebrity-sighting.
Though sadly I cannot afford to do as Lucian, I do enjoy stopping by the Sally Clarke Shop across the road for caffeine and carbs.
Morning: people (and dog) watching in leafy Holland Park
The beauty of Holland Park is in its contrasts: part woodland, part formal gardens, with an open-air Opera House and Japanese garden thrown in. Yet the park is still very much utilised by locals, you will find families, dogs and their walkers, yummy mummies and joggers enjoying the park - making it the perfect place to people watch. The residential streets surrounding the park are also gorgeous and worth exploring.
Insider tip: If you’re in need of a pit stop, I recommend The Mitre near Holland Park tube station or The Windsor Castle on Campden Hill on the east side of the park. Both have plenty of outdoor seating to enjoy an al fresco drink, weather permitting.
Lunch: enjoy the atmosphere and food at stylish Granger & Co
Now with multiple locations in the city, Bill Granger’s Notting Hill venue remains my favourite. The dining room is light and airy, not too formal but definitely stylish. The menu has an Asian flavour, with dishes like kimchee fried rice with soft-shell crab and chorizo. It is one of my favourite restaurants in London, and I love bringing friends from out of town here. Granger & Co doesn’t take bookings, but there is a bar area where you can wait.
Insider tip: Breakfast is served till noon daily, and the coconut bread is heavenly.
Afternoon: explore the boutiques on Westbourne Grove
Westbourne Grove is a small shopping area with an eclectic selection of upscale boutiques and cafes. Fun for both window and actual shopping. Below are a couple of shops I like to have a peek in when I get the chance, but there are so many more interesting ones that a dedicated Insider Guide to Westbourne Grove shopping is in the works…
Pippa Small - Ethical jewellery designer
Melt Chocolates - Fresh handmade chocolates
Penelope Chilvers - British shoe and boot maker
La Cave à Fromage - Cheese shop with tasting platters
Lutyens & Rubinstein - Literary agents and independent booksellers
Drinks: have an aperitivo at wine bar Negozio Classica
This little wine bar has a buzzy atmosphere, impressive selection of Italian wines, delicious Tusan small plates and friendly service. The perfect spot for pre-dinner drinks.
Dinner: The Mall Tavern
The interior of the Mall Tavern is beautiful and the food is a nostalgic take on traditional British pub food. There is a large selection of drinks - including 23 different beers and ciders on tap - and the space is delightfully lively with Notting Hill locals catching up over a drink or roast dinner.
Late: dance and drink till late at Notting Hill Arts Club
Just two minutes from Notting Hill Gate tube station, NHAC is an ode to the bohemian Notting Hill of old. A scruffy but chich basement dive with live music from up and coming artists and eclectic DJ sets. The crowd is fittingly diverse and the party goes on till 2am. Closed Sunday - Tuesday.