You’re spending a long weekend in London. Lucky you. There’s only one problem: the eternal problem of choice. Too many wonderful and interesting things to do, but below is our 48 hour guide to West London to help you on your way.
Notting Hill may now be uber fashionable but 200 years ago it was wasteland and until the late 19th century home to piggeries and potteries. It was bombed heavily during the Second World War, and many families left, unable to afford the upkeep of the large houses.
In the 1950s the population of London grew, and many of the former large houses were changed into apartments. Immigrants from the West Indies, in search of a better life, settled in this area attracted by the cheap rents but were forced to live in unsanitary conditions by unscrupulous landlords keener on profits than decent homes. Race riots followed and in response the wonderful Notting Hill Carnival was born, which takes place during the Bank Holiday in August.
So with a vast history, all parts of West London have an eclectic group of residents, visitors, restaurants, hotels, some of the best of London’s culture from weekend markets to galleries. The area encapsulates Chelsea, parts of Knightsbridge and Notting Hill. With the following list, you are set for a fulfilling and exciting two days in one of the best areas in the city.
The Laslett, a gem of a hotel and a stone’s throw from Notting Hill tube and close to Portobello Road market and Holland Park, is right slap in the middle of all the action . You’re ideally placed for fun, shopping, eating and walks in the park plus of course some serious antique shopping on Portobello Road market.
Five Georgian buildings have been converted into one splendid hotel. There’s a team of exceptionally well trained staff, great mini bars stocked with exciting unusual things and some rooms have 14 ft ceilings and the windows actually open – so no living in a hermetically sealed microcosm. It’s like staying in a friend’s house; albeit one with exquisite taste.
The Portobello Hotel
This is the hotel where Johnny Depp and Kate Moss, in their hedonistic youthful days, filled their bath with Champagne. Room 13 is the one to book – there’s an enormous four poster and the attic rooms though smallish are delightful and the prices are surprisingly good value . It opened in 1971 and has become an institution. Run by Jessica and Peter Frankopan who also own Cowley Manor, Canal House in Amsterdam and L’Hotel in Paris, it’s run like clockwork and feels like staying in a beautifully decorated private house with a bunch of rather quirky guests. Drinks and snacks are served 24 hours a day.
The Belmond Cadogan
This hotel on Sloane Street is in the midst of a super deluxe refurbishment. A tiny birdy tells me it’s going to be divine and knowing the Belmond’s knack for style and great service this is one to book. It’s due to open in December 2018 – keep your eye on their website for the soft opening. This is where poor Oscar Wilde was arrested in room 118 and the great beauty Lillie Langtry courted the future Edward, The Prince of Wales. Ideally positioned on Sloane Street, close to all that fabulous shopping, Hyde Park and Knightsbridge.
Eating and Drinking
There are just so many simply delectable places that it is seriously hard to narrow it down but here’s a snapshot.
Granger and Co on Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill (there’s one in Chelsea as well) is loved by many for a late breakfast or brunch. Delicious.
175 Westbourne Grove
London W11 2SB
+44 (0) 20 7229 9111
Colbert, a high end French cafe, on Sloane Square serves a very decent breakfast and is open all day. Great service and exquisite cakes and patisseries at tea time.
50-52 Sloane Square
London SW1W 8AX
+44 (0) 20 7730 2804
Daylesford, on Pimlico Green, is all about seasonal and delicious British food. There’s a well stocked farm shop where everything is delivered from their market garden and a selection of home- made divine cheeses and breads. The organic café is open all day – proper strong coffees and a great breakfast.
448 Pimlico Road
London SW1W 8LP
+44 (0) 20 7881 8060
The Orange – Perfect for long lingering hungover Sunday lunches. Expect delicious roasts and pack a punch bloody Mary’s. It’s also a hotel with 4 tastefully decorated bedrooms from £175 per night.
37 Pimlico Road
London SW1W 8NE
020 7881 9844
The Ledbury The Australian chef Brett Graham holds two coveted Michelin stars. Modern British food with lots of vegetables and game. Currently number 27 in the ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurants’- make sure to book.
127 Ledbury Road
London W11 2AQ
+44 (0) 20 7792 9090
Dinings SW3 the sister restaurant of Dinings in Marylebone, offering excellent sushi and sashimi. It uses the freshest seafood from Cornish day boats. The food was originally based on the traditional Japanese Izakaya style of cuisine however, since opening 10 years ago. Dinings has created a new style of Izakaya; Japanese tapas which combines traditional Japanese with modern European cuisine.
Lennox Garden Mews
London SW3 2JH
+44 (0) 20 7723 0666
Blakes hotel has kept its reputation since it opened in 1978 – one of the first boutique hotels it boasts a very dark sexy interior and is at its best at night. Blakes’ Below Bar in the basement is buzzing on the weekend and the new restaurant on the ground floor has become a recent hotspot. Amazing Martinis. Stalwart at protecting its famous clients privacy.
33 Roland Gardens
London SW7 3PF
020 7370 6701
Shop Till You Drop
Portobello Market is best experienced on the weekend – it sells a real mishmash – expect fruit and veg and antiques and vintage clothing all in the same very long street. It’s easy to spend an entire day browsing, stopping for lunch and then more browsing.
Not to be missed is Hilary Proctor for vintage furs (based at 135 Portobello Road). She sells a great selection of furs at great prices. Think Gwyneth Paltrow and The Royal Tenenbaums. Don’t miss The Hummingbird Bakery at the end of Portobello Road, nearest to Notting Hill station. It makes one of the best red velvet cupcakes, so good that they inspire my closest friend to drive here at odd hours for a warm sugar hug.
The food market on Saturday morning at Duke of York Square’s Fine Food Market on the King’s Road is worth visiting. You can sneak in a visit to The Saatchi Gallery at the same time, one of London’s favourite contemporary galleries. Pimlico Green is another favourite to visit, offering everything from the freshest fish, biodynamic vegetables, to free range and organic meat and poultry. Everything is grown, raised or fished within 100 miles of the city centre.
Finally, don’t miss the original Vivienne Westwood shop right at the bottom of the King’s Road at the aptly named World’s End.
Duck and Dry on the King’s Road for a quick 30 minute blow dry, accompanied with prosecco if you’re up to it (anytime time of day).
Daniel Hersheson at Harvey Nichols is my firm favourite for a quick blow dry. They’ve 8 styles to choose from, all modern and chic. Book online as first time customers receive 20% off.
Triyoga on the King’s Road – part of a chain – is a cult studio for serious yoga aficionados. This spacious and light-filled centre is an idyllic sanctuary to relax and unwind with yoga, or take it up a notch with whatever practise you choose. Treatments and tasty, nutritious food follow straight after.
British Military Fitness! Yes military fitness. If you’ve got to bed at a sensible time and want to work up a sweat in Hyde Park on Saturday at 9am whilst being screamed at by super buff (and attractive ex military), then this is your best bet. Look online to book.
Doctor Ladak is your main man for beauty. He’s an expert at all sorts of non-invasive treatments. He’s a fully qualified doctor and looks after the health of a very famous football team. Not only will he do home and hotel visits, he is the trainer to the experts, and has exceptionally good prices. With a great eye and a delicate hand, there’s a reason he’s in the address books of many women. You’ll need to book in advance.
See and Do
Walk around in these
The Victoria and Albert Museum, Science Museum and Natural History Museum are all next to each other, close to Hyde Park and Knightsbridge. And like many of the best culture in London, they are free and fabulous. After your cultural tour of the gallery, the large Gamble Room at the Victoria and Albert is a truly fantastic room to have a coffee in and in the summer the Garden Cafe is where you need to head.
Chelsea Physic Garden, close to the King’s Road, is one of London’s best kept secrets and is in my top 5 all time favourite London spots . One of the oldest botanic gardens in London with over 5000 medicinal and herbal plants, a visit here is sure to uplift even the most jaded of visitors to West London. It’s extremely relaxing and The Tangerine Dream Cafe is a great little spot serving real homemade cakes and excellent lunches.
Don’t miss a walk around the walled gardens in Holland Park, past the peacocks, and afterwards turn right at the gates on Kensington High Street and visit the nearby new Design Museum, the world’s leading museum devoted to contemporary design in every form from architecture to fashion to graphics.
Here’s wishing you happy times and a great 48 Hours in West London.
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