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An Area Guide to Notting Hill

by Gracie Koch
A Student's Area Guide to Notting Hill in London, England | AIFS Study Abroad | AIFS in London, England

When running around your new home away from home, you are bound to discover a few favorite areas within your host city that you keep returning to. London is a city full of culture and has many unique areas unlike what you’ll find anywhere else in the world. Whether it’s the gritty vibes of Camden, historical foundations of Westminster, or the classic style of Regents, everyone can find a part of London to suit their personality.

I’ve had so much fun exploring all these unique areas, but one location in particular will always have my heart, and that is Notting Hill! With its classic English painted flats, amazing vintage market, and incredible food scene, it’s the perfect blend between artistic vibes and classic British culture. After so many trips, I’d like to think of myself as somewhat of a Notting Hill connoisseur, so sit back and read on for an insider’s guide to this corner of the city! To quote my favorite tube stop in London, “This is: Notting Hill Gate.”

The Painted Flats

Of course when visiting Notting Hill, you have to roam around the streets spotting all the different candy-colored houses. Each time I visit, I seem to run into a new batch that I haven’t seen before. These flats are part of what gives Notting Hill its unique flair and they offer the perfect postcard photo-op! Each time I go, I can’t help but snap a pic or two. Perhaps the most fun part of seeing these houses is the imminent conversation between you and your friends about which color you would paint your house if you lived in this trendy little neighborhood. For the most classic views, stroll down Portobello Road and keep your eyes peeled down the side streets for these picturesque flats.

Trendy Restaurants

As a foodie, no area can possibly be my favorite if it doesn’t also offer a killer food scene.  Let me tell you, Notting Hill does not disappoint!  Being a trendy neighborhood full of local elites, Notting Hill has a plethora of nice cafes and restaurants with eclectic menus. Whether it is the Instagram-famous Farm Girl Café, trendy Granger & Co., or the many traditional British pubs dotted along the streets, you are sure to find an establishment that suits your tastes. While all these trendy restaurants have been fun to try, our personal favorite is the underdog gem EggBreak.  With its all-day brunch menu, you are sure to find a winner whether you’re in the mood for a sugary breakfast or a wholesome brunch.

Notting Hill Bookshop

One of the top destinations for 90’s Rom-Com lovers is the infamous Notting Hill Bookshop, home to the Travel Book Co. in the movie Notting Hill. Whether you’re a fan of the movie or an avid bookworm, this shop is sure to be a winner. While you may not be lucky enough to run into your favorite celebrity crush inside, you will find it’s stocked with all types of books. If you are on the hunt for a classic novel or something more kitschy, you are sure to find it in here! 

Doughnut Time

In the words of their ever-true slogan, “It’s always a good time!” If you find yourself at the Notting Hill Bookshop, you must pop by next door to Doughnut Time! This Australian company brought its chain to London and is definitely taking over the city. Serving fresh gourmet doughnuts with clever names (e.g. their Easter special, “Egg Sheeran”… like, come on…), you’re bound to fall in love with this adorable little doughnut shop. Whether you’re craving a Nutella-filled doughnut, a sweet Vegan-friendly treat, or a doughnut topped with your new favorite British candy, Doughnut Time is sure to satiate your sweet tooth. Their new loyalty cards also gives the perfect excuse to keep returning… when in London, am I right?

Portobello Road Market

Lastly, no trip to Notting Hill is complete without stopping by the infamous Portobello Road Market. This is the world’s largest antiques market and London’s oldest vintage market, offering both bric-a-brac and vintage garb. With decades ranging from the 1920’s to the 1990’s and prices ranging from £5 to over £500, a treasure hunt through the market is sure to end in success! Stalls are trading all week, but Friday through Sunday offers the widest selection where you’ll find all the high-end vintage clothing. Make sure to take a pit stop by one of the street food vendors and try out some tasty eats while you are shopping!

Whenever I have a free afternoon or there’s a sunny day in London, Notting Hill’s colourful atmosphere and bustling markets call me back for another visit. On a sunny day, it is a scenic walk from our Kensington Campus and on a rainy day, it is only a short tube ride on the Circle Line away.  Whether you’re looking for a delicious meal, a killer vintage piece, or just a scenic stroll through classic London, Notting Hill is the place to be!

This post was contributed by Gracie Koch, who spent her spring semester studying abroad with AIFS in London, England.

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