Step Into Notting Hill's Road And Beyond

June 25, 2024

Notting Hill is more famous for being the street carnival where Notting Hill, the 1999 film starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, was shot. For non-movie fans, the place is actually a trendy urban village in West London filled with history. Lucky for me, I'm also a fan of Notting Hill (aside from loving tours in general), so I was stoked to join the walking tour. 

When you embark on this walking tour, your guide will lead you through a carefully curated itinerary. You'll visit iconic film locations from Notting Hill and other famous movies like A Hard Day's Night, Love Actually, and The Italian Job. The tour also includes stops at the world-renowned Portobello Road Market, The Paddington Antique Shop, the famous Notting Hill Bookshop, and the iconic Blue Door from Notting Hill.

Colorful houses in the neighborhood of Notting Hill. Image from Viator

The tour is actually very inclusive and informative, even for non-movie fans. You'll get to learn Notting Hill's history, the area's fascinating culture, and some pop culture factoids. Notting Hill, before it became famous for the movie named after it, actually means "settlement of people." The soil in the area is healthy and thick, making it good for pottery, which eventually became the main source of income in the place. Then, the pig farmers arrived. From a pottery and pig farming area, it became a hip neighborhood, attracting more affluent families to move in. The streets became home to famous celebrities such as Richard Curtis, Ella McPherson, and David and Victoria Beckham.

Made You Look graffiti by Banksy in Notting Hill. Image by Lindsay Young

Notting Hill is filled with pop culture references that you might recognize from movies or social media. Banky's Made You Look graffiti is found in Portobello Road, where the famous Portobello Road Market is also located. The market is one of the tour highlights. It's known for its lively atmosphere and diverse stalls where vendors sell anything and everything! From produce to antiques to fashion and novelty items to food! It's a bazaar, and you'll surely find a thing or two you'll like. Some recommend visiting on a Friday when it's lively but less crowded. A few places I'd suggest you try are the Farm Girl cafe and the Hummingbird Bakery.

Portobello Market. Photo by Mark Barnes

The place is also famous for its rich and artistic history. The Victorian theatre 20th Century Theatre, which premiered Oscar Wilde's Salome in 1905, is located in the neighborhood. It used to be a beautiful theatre and rehearsal space. In the music scene, the song Do They Know It's Christmas by Band-Aid was recorded in the Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill in 1984. Basing Street Studios was also previously located in the area, a recording studio used by famous musicians such as Jimi Hendrix. For film lovers, you'd get a chance to visit renowned filming locations like Alice's Antiques, the famous antique shop featured in Paddington films. This Antique shop sits right next to the flat of Michael Caine (Charlie Croker) from The Italian Job (1969). If you're a 007 fan, 1 Stanley Gardens is also famous for being a filming location for Spectre.

Apartment of James Bond as seen in Spectre. Photo by Christoph Driessen

Later, Notting Hill became the filming location of Notting Hill, drawing more attraction to a broader audience for the place. Fun fact: Claudia Schiffer (famous model and actress) lived in the area while Notting Hill was being filmed, so she asked for a cameo but wasn't granted. Later, she was given one for Love Actually. The filming locations of Notting Hill, such as the iconic Blue Door (a private residence) and the Notting Hill Bookshop, are also the main highlights of the tour. 

The famous Blue Door from Notting Hill. Image by Matt Brown

It may sound tiring, but once you join the walking tour, you'll have quite an ample time to take in and learn about the neighborhood while getting to experience the places. In the end, you'd have more appreciation for Notting Hill and the stories that have shaped it to how it is now. You may even be inspired to watch (or rewatch!) the movies filmed in the location! If you find the tour quick and short, you can always come back and explore the neighborhood on your own. 

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