London villages: Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill

When Richard Curtis was location-scouting for his 1999 film Notting Hill, local residents he approached insisted on donations to various charities to compensate for the ensuing publicity. Thirteen years on, the area still heaves with tourists. Things used to be very different-it was once a slum-ridden, drug-fuelled area home to West Indian immigrants and a handful of Bohemian types who moved in during the 1950s and 1960s. Since then, it’s undergone perhaps the most dramatic gentrification of all central London neighbourhoods.

Likely characters

Locals are terribly well dressed and tend to wear sunglasses regardless of the weather. Yes, there’s a smattering of old-school Notting Hillbillies who’ve been there for decades, but you’re increasingly likely to walk past a man having a hands-free chat in another European language while sitting in his purring Porsche.

Local pubs

The Cock & Bottle on Needham Road is a proper, old-fashioned watering hole, but the young crowd tends to descend on the Walmer Castle on Ledbury Road.

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Morning papers

Western Food & Wine on West-bourne Grove or Rococo News and Magazines on Elgin Crescent.


MH Dairies will deliver milk to your doorstep (020-8964 1218;

Butchers, bakers and candlestick makers

The local branch of Daylesford Organic, on Westbourne Grove, provides all manner of provisions
-at a price. Those on the hunt for bread can shop in the aforementioned emporium or walk around the corner to Ottolenghi (or, as some call it, ‘Lotto-spendi’), and anyone in search of perfumed candles can pop into Diptyque.


Tom’s Deli on Westbourne Grove or The Grocer on Elgin and Mr Christian’s (both on Elgin Crescent) are well stocked with all manner of delicious gastronomic goodies.


Perhaps London’s most famous market, Portobello Market takes up a two-mile long stretch of Portobello Road, and is split up into different sections. When walking up from the Tube, antiques
is the first section you come across, next is food, and, finally, fashion is a collection of stalls that sprawls under the Westway. For good fruit and veg, head straight for the stalls opposite the Electric Cinema.

Post office

When the Westbourne Grove post office was threatened with closure, scores of local lumin-aries (including Ruby Wax, Lady Antonia Fraser and Angela Rippon) signed a petition opposing the move. Sadly, they failed, and now only the sorting office remains.

Village church

St John’s, which sits just off the highest point of Ladbroke Grove, is probably the most active village church, and is responsible for hosting the Notting Hill Mayfest, a cheery annual celebration of springtime and the Arts (

Charity shop

FARA, the charity that raises money for orphaned and abandoned children, has a shop on Ledbury Road that’s a treasure trove of stylish children’s clothes, books and toys. Considering the international make-up of mothers in the area, it’s great if you need things for bilingual babies.


Four years ago, Lucy Bailey and Anda Winters discovered a 1950s warehouse on Hereford Road and transformed it into a flexible theatre space. The Print Room was opened in September 2010, and now hosts plays, exhibitions and concerts (020-7221 6036; The Idler Academy is a bookshop, cafe and seat of learning on Westbourne Park Road.

Courses take place on subjects such as English grammar, calligraphy and Classical philosophy (0845 250 1281;

Don’t be fooled…

The Village Bicycle, on Ledbury Road, is actually an artsy boutique, rather than somewhere you might look for a puncture-repair kit.

Night at the opera

Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House is about 20 minutes away (seven stops on the Tube to Holborn, and then a short walk), or 15 minutes in a taxi.

Day at the races

Travel to Newbury Racecourse on a direct race train from nearby Paddington station

Local market

Notting Hill spans two London boroughs, and the streets that fall within the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea are slightly more expensive than those in Westminster. ‘People will pay a premium for a Kensington & Chelsea parking permit,’ explains Tom Goy of Knight Frank’s local office (020-7229 0229). ‘But the shops on the Westminster side of Ledbury Road are becoming increasingly smart, and Hereford Road (also in Westminster) is now quite a hub, too.’

If you’re looking for a communal garden, your best bet is to go for one of the streets off Kensington Park Road. Alex Thompson of Wink-worth (020-7727 3227) recommends Dawson Place, Pembridge Place, Kensington Park Gardens and Stanley Crescent-Mr Goy adds the grid of streets leading off quiet Artesian Road.

Dream property
£8.95 million, Westbourne Grove, W11
This newly developed maisonette is set on the top two floors of a period building. It boasts a bright, 45ft reception room with a roof terrace, and it’s equipped with an iPad touch control linked to a Crestron manage-
ment system. Knight Frank (020-7229 0229)

Family house
£4.5 million, Chepstow Crescent, W11
This four-bedroom, two-bathroom house comes with off-street parking and has a south-west-facing rear garden. The ground-floor drawing room and first-floor master bedroom both have high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling French windows. Savills (020-7535 3300)


£1.7 million, St Stephens Mews, W2
This three-storey mews house has three bedrooms, a large living space with access to a decked roof terrace above, and has been decorated in a contemporary style. Winkworth (020-7727 3227)
To view details of properties 4 to 8 on the map, visit

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