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Notting Hill: Not Just A Rom Com

London’s beloved west London neighbourhood is a shopping lover’s paradise

Written by . Published on November 28th 2011.


Notting Hill: Not Just A Rom Com

THERE is an inevitable danger associated with high street shopping, most notably the lingering probability of purchasing the exact same items as 80 per cent of your friends. There is nothing worse than wearing an ‘unusual’ new Topshop dress to the pub and having three people comment that they love it and have one in blue. As you swallow, giggle and reply that good minds think alike, you feel some of your individuality seep out, shrivel up and die a gloomy death. 

The same goes for homeware. A person’s living space should be as personal as their style, a reflection of their character. It’s difficult to feel you’ve achieved this when the items around your house could well be the items found in any house. Think Chinese-themed living rooms and nautical bathrooms complete with obligatory rubber duck.

Located near the corner of Kensington Gardens, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Notting Hill bears the fashionable, affluent reputation of the west, without being remotely elitist or intimidating. Home to the world famous Portobello Market and the world’s second largest street festival, Notting Hill Carnival, the area attracts a diverse crowd and has become an immensely popular shopping destination. 

Pembridge RoadPembridge Road

The reason? Notting Hill steps away from high street trends. It is absolutely chock-a-block with retro stores, antiques dealers and vintage boutiques in a glorious celebration of ‘alternative’ culture. Not only that, Kensington Church Street has a vast selection of art galleries and studios, from Oriental to African, maintaining a strong sense of appreciation of all things visually stimulating, out of the ordinary and classically timeless. The fact that during the 1950s, Caribbean immigrants settled in the area shines through as a strong component of its ever-evolving character. 

For those who admire the attitude of east London, but don’t wish to embark on an overly rule-breaking ‘out there’ lifestyle, Notting Hill is perfect. Particularly as every single rule goes completely out the window once a year in a celebration of colour, sound and Caribbean vibrancy. Proof that balance is always the best solution, as well as the fact that you can personalize your style without making yourself look completely ridiculous. After all, east London has its own kind of uniform. It is incredibly difficult to be genuinely individual. YouTube’s infamous ‘Dickhead’ song proved the general consensus on that.

Retro WomanRetro Woman

Pembridge Road is the ultimate hotspot for retro fashion boutiques. Retro Woman (30 Pembridge Road, W11 3HG) stands out from the crowd with its vast designer shoe selection, and two additional stores dedicated to jewellery and menswear. The trio of stores boasts pieces from Donna Karen, Gucci, Prada, Stella McCartney, Chanel, Dior and many, many more. With Roberto Cavalli shoes from £70 and knee length boots from Marc Jacobs at £100, you really can’t go wrong. There are new arrivals daily to cater for popular demand, with fur coats and stoles flying off the hangers in all directions. 

Who's NextWho's Next

Travelling along Pembridge Road will lead to Who’s Next (41 Pembridge Road, W11 3HG), which mimics the look and feel of vintage, but at a quarter of the price. Then there is Yumi, which also features its exuberant, uplifting designs in House of Frasier, and Dolly Diamond, which resembles a glamorous-cool dressing up box. Travel a little further along and you’ll reach The Merchant on Ledbury Road, a boutique for buyers and sellers of pre-owned, high-end designer clothing, shoes, accessories and jewellery for men, women and children. The store also exhibits the work of up-and-coming artists. 

Amongst the heaving variety of Portobello road sits Decadent Vintage. Almost hidden by feathers, it covets a wonderful selection of handcrafted one-of-a-kind pieces, specialising in 1920s glamour, as well as elaborate ’80s prom dresses. There’s the infamous military stall for historical footwear and pre-1914 items, whilst Portwine Arcade (173 – 175 Portobello Road, W11 2DY) lures its customer’s in with the sign ‘Try on for fun’ next to a serious array of headwear.

Notting Hill Brasserie Kensington Park RoadNotting Hill Brasserie Kensington Park Road

The neighbourhood has an abundance of cafés, pubs, wine bars and wine merchants. The Champion is popular with the locals. London blogger, Olivia O’Brien, (otherwise known as the London Ladybird) visits the pub every Sunday to get her fill of proper English food and bask in its wintry cosiness.

In Notting Hill, shoppers aren’t manipulated into buying obvious, popular trends, but are encouraged to search for and select individual pieces, purchased with a feeling of satisfied success that it could well be a one-off. Shoppers are more than likely to come away with items they have chosen, not what the media has chosen for them. It’s easy to devote an entire day to the streets of Notting Hill once your creative juices start flowing.

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Flora Neighbour shared this on Facebook on November 29th 2011.
Drew SmithNovember 29th 2011.

The Oxfam shop on Westbourne Grove is also "designer" only

SydneyNovember 29th 2011.

Anyone know any good cafes or restaurants in the area? Would be great to make a day of it.

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