Notting Hill is more than just a movie, it’s a living, vibrant community with a reputation as an affluent and fashionable district of West London. The original intention was to call the neighbourhood Kensington Park, but the owners, the Ladbroke family, had a change of mind and settled on Notting Hill instead. A hippodrome – an oval racecourse dating back to Roman times – was constructed around the top of the hill, but poor drainage and problems with public rights of way dogged the venture and the hippodrome was abandoned and housing built on the land. That’s why several of the roads are crescents, such as Elgin Crescent and Blenheim Crescent, as they follow the line of the old course.
Besides the movie, Notting Hill is also world famous for the carnival, held over two days every August. The carnival brings the streets to life with music, dancing and is among the largest street festivals in Europe.
Notting Hill is bordered to the north and west by the Westway, an elevated dual carriageway acting as London’s main A40 road gateway to the west of England.
Ladbroke Square is London’s largest private garden square.
Besides Notting Hill, other movies set in the area include Performance, starring Mick Jagger and Paddington, the story of the famous bear.
Westbourne Grove is a major shopping street named after the River Westbourne, a lost river now running entirely underground.
Portobello Road is a major through route and hosts one of London’s best known markets specialising in antiques.
Just a short hop away is the massive Westfield shopping centre at Shepherd’s Bush – a couple of stops on the tube from Notting Hill Gate.
Notting Hill was designed as a garden village by the Ladbroke family in the early 19th century. The original housing was large terraced homes built around private garden squares. Most are now split into apartments, although many still retain their period charm as single homes. Homes are a blend of white stucco frontages or the iconic London red brick. The grandest homes are around Kensington Park Gardens, Ladbroke Square and Norland Square.
Notting Hill has a reputation for cultural diversity and was the first stopping-off place for many immigrants. That reputation still abounds in today’s community that comprises people from many nations, which gives the neighbourhood a rich cosmopolitan community spirit. The housing stock in Notting Hill is as varied as the community – but once a home owner moves in they like to stay, so properties are at a premium and the prices tend to reflect a limit on supply.
Saying that, buyers can find homes ranging from one-bedroomed flats or studios to impressive period family homes. Notting Hill also has a fair share of mews cottages around Princedale Road.
Holland Park, on the outskirts of the district, has a millionaire’s row where Sir Richard Branson once had a home.
The neighbourhoods are also territory for investors, so homes to suit many budgets are available for private rental.
All of West and Central London lies within easy reach of Notting Hill.
Notting Hill Gate tube station, where the Bayswater Road joins Holland Park Avenue is served by the Central, District and Circle Lines. Other local tube stations include Westbourne Park and Ladbroke Grove on the Hammersmith & City Line. Cabs and buses give quick connections to Kensington and the West End. Nearby Paddington is the capital’s main gateway for over ground services to the west and has a tube station on the Circle, District, Bakerloo and Hammersmith and City Lines.
Canary Wharf and Heathrow are each around 30 minutes away.
Notting Hill is on the edge of both Transport for London Zones 1 and 2, while Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park are in Zone 2.
Crossrail will also have a new station at Paddington.
Things to do
Living in Notting Hill leaves you spoilt for choice for things to do both on your doorstep and further afield in London.
Busy Queensway and Westbourne Grove are alive day and night with shops, restaurants, cafes and bars reflecting cuisines from around the world.
Queensway also has Whiteley’s mall and cinema complex and the capital’s only integrated venue for ice skating and bowling.
The Print Room Theatre and The Tabernacle put on shows and exhibitions to suit all tastes, while The Electric, Coronet and Gate independent cinemas showcase mainstream as well as eclectic films.
Keep an eye out in the bars and restaurants for Notting Hill’s celebrity residents. You’re unlikely to spot Hugh Grant or Julia Roberts, but several pop stars, actors and celebrities haunt the nightspots.
Browsing the Portobello Road market is a great way to while away a few hours. Besides the famous antique stalls and shops, traders also sell anything and everything from fruit and veg to clothing.
Schools and colleges
Notting Hill has a wide choice of public and independent schools from nurseries to further education colleges. Notting Hill Gate is a hub station giving quick access to the capital’s many world-famous universities and colleges.
Notting Hill has a London W11 post code and Kensington and Chelsea is the local authority.