In the spotlight: Notting Hill

It’s time for the second installment of this year’s ‘In the spotlight.’ Jasmin, one of our scholarships assistants, has taken the time to write about her favourite place in London – Notting Hill. Have a read and see what the fuss is about.

Despite being known for its antiques section, apparently the world’s largest at that, and THAT bookstore from the movie Notting Hill, the Portobello Road Market and the surrounding areas in Notting Hill have much more to offer for those willing to explore. While the market is open from Monday to Saturday, Saturday is generally the best, albeit also the busiest, day to visit. That is the day when all of the sellers are there, and you can experience the market in full swing. In reality, while a large part of the market comprises of the antiques sellers, down towards Ladbroke Grove you can find the fruit and vegetable sellers, and stalls for varied new and used goods as well as the vintage section.

In addition, there are a number of food sellers scattered around the mile long market selling delicious dishes from Paellas to Falafel wraps and burgers and chips, all made right there. For those with a sweet tooth there is a particular stall selling rather large doughnuts, cupcakes and other baked goods. The more you buy, the cheaper they are, so it’s worth taking a friend with you! 

If you’re not averse to getting out of the house early, getting to the market as it opens at 9am on a Saturday is the best time to go. While the sellers are still setting up their stalls, you can go and do as the locals do and have breakfast, or just a cup of coffee, in the area. The cafes on Portobello Road itself tend to be somewhat expensive, but if you wonder off a bit there are plenty of cafes and restaurants where you can, among other things, enjoy a traditional English breakfast.

Going to the market early allows you to browse in peace before the masses arrive, also giving you the chance to make conversation with the sellers, who tend to be a talkative bunch! Most have been selling in the market for years, and have plenty of stories to tell. If you find anything to buy, especially in the antiques section, remember it is always worth haggling, and if you’ve made conversation beforehand, you’re also more likely to get a discount.

Remember not to limit yourself to only browsing the stalls. It’s well worth visiting the little stores on the street, particularly in the antiques section, if only to wonder at all that they are selling. It’s best to be prepared and have cash as you arrive, since the sellers don’t take cards, and the cash machines tend to have long queues, especially towards the afternoon. If you end up staying past 4pm, or make it to the market only late in the day, it’s worth noting that many sellers, especially in the fruit and vegetable stalls, are selling their products at a discounted price. The market can be reached by tube, with both the Notting Hill Gate and Ladbroke Grove stations leading almost directly to the market.