WHY LIVE HERE?
As downtown Manhattan is to New York and Montmartre is to Paris, so Notting Hill is to London. Cosmopolitan, cultured, yet cosy – this west London enclave is a magnet for urbane young families.
With its seams of pretty, pastel, terraced houses, colourful street markets, grand crescents and leafy parks, it is now one of London’s most sought-after neighbourhoods. Following 1999’s hit movie, Notting Hill, the streets, doorways and parks of this urban village have taken on almost mythical status.
The area has seen many changes, though. After the Second World War, the area became home to a large number of Afro-Caribbean immigrants. Then in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, tradesmen, artists and antique dealers started to move in, seduced by low rents and a vibrant and diverse culture. In the 1990s, the increasingly young and affluent arrived, snapping up huge Victorian villas – once home to tens of families – and often extending them as far below ground level as the buildings are high.
Today, the area houses a mixture of wealthy, international professionals as well as more bohemian writers, actors and media types. Replacing Piccadilly on the latest Monopoly board, Notting Hill is firmly on the capital’s map.
Notting Hill has more than its fair share of pre-prep and preparatory schools, most of which offer the best of the British education system.
The most notable of these is Wetherby, the boys’ pre-prep school, famed for its royal alumni, Princes William and Harry. With its distinctive red-trimmed grey blazers, the school group now comprises a nursery and pre-prep (both located in Notting Hill) as well as a preparatory and secondary school (which are slightly further afield).
Pembridge Hall, a non-selective preparatory school for girls, is in the heart of Notting Hill. This hallowed pre-prep and prep prides itself on a curriculum based around sports and the arts – particularly drama.
The area has excellent co-educational schools like Notting Hill Prep, Chepstow House and Norland Place, too. A tad less glitzy than their competitors, they are nonetheless excellent options, providing that all-important springboard into London’s best secondary day schools.
There are rich pickings for younger children as well. Notting Hill offers some of London’s best nurseries, including Acorn and Miss Delaney’s. Beware of long waiting lists, though.
Robbie Williams, Stella McCartney, Simon Cowell, the Beckhams and David Cameron live, or have lived, in the area.
RESTAURANTS & SHOPS
It’s hard to turn a corner in Notting Hill without stumbling upon a chic café or restaurant. The neighbourhood caters to every taste and pocket – whether you’re after the two Michelin-starred restaurant, The Ledbury or the famous Falafel King on Portobello Road. Particularly hot at the moment is a stylish outpost of the Australian chain, Granger & Co, and the glamourous Argentinian hangout, Casa Cruz.
When it comes to shopping, nowhere juxtaposes old and new better than Notting Hill. From the vintage, flea-market vibe of Portobello, a slight turn takes you straight to into the immaculate heartland of high-end fashion and boutiques, Westbourne Grove. It’s worth a visit for the window-shopping and people-watching alone.