The Portobello Road is the beating heart of Notting Hill. From the Sun In Splendour pub in the south, the street snakes north past a row of brightly coloured cottages before dropping down the hill through the quaint jumble of antique shops.
It then morphs into a typical London fruit and veg market, before dipping under the concrete sweep of Westway and rising again to cross Golborne Road, where designer Stella McCartney lives in a converted chapel and huddles of Moroccan men sit drinking mint tea.
Prime Notting Hill is to be found in the concentric circles of streets which radiate from the southern end of Ladbroke Grove, where the best houses and flats have direct access to some of London’s most beautiful and secret communal gardens. This is where Hugh Grant romances Hollywood star Julia Roberts in the film Notting Hill.
But the area is much more than multimillion-pound period houses. In 1958, race riots erupted after groups of Teddy Boys attacked members of the local Caribbean community. There is still a huge cultural potpourri, with a large population living on council estates.
The eponymous carnival over the August bank holiday weekend was set up in response to the riots and with more than a million visitors each year it is now the most popular street festival in the world after Rio de Janeiro’s.
Village with attitude
Rob Atkins of estate agent Domus Nova describes Notting Hill as a rebellious little village. “It tries very hard not to be conventional. People are staying here much longer and they are being very adventurous with their houses.”
Domus Nova (020 7727 1717) is selling a house in Westbourne Grove for £6 million which exemplifies this spirit. “It took the owners two years to remodel the house. They completely gutted it to create a modernist interior.”
Lowdown on W11
Properties: Notting Hill was developed in the 1820s and 1840s when the Ladbroke estate was laid out on open farmland. Large, imposing stucco villas and terraces are the dominant style.
The area attracts: historically writers, artists and young creatives with no money. David Hockney lived in Powis Square in the Sixties and Martin Amis’s Eighties novels were set around Portobello Road. These days it attracts media types, bankers and those who have made money in the music industry, with buyers from the UK and Europe and recently Russia and the Middle East.
'People are staying much longer and being very adventurous with their houses'
Staying power: good. Notting Hill used to be a transient area, but now families stay and instead of moving they serially restyle their houses.
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Postcodes: the heart of Notting Hill is W11, but the streets running north of Artesian Road are in W2, the Bayswater postcode. North of Westway, roads such as Oxford and Cambridge Gardens, and in the Oxford Gardens/St Quintin conservation area, where Prime Minister David Cameron owns a house, are W10, the North Kensington postcode.
Best streets: the highest prices are in Dawson Place and Pembridge Place near Westbourne Grove. According to Johnny Fuller of estate agent Savills, prices here can top £3,000 a square foot, with large, stucco, double-fronted houses selling for £13 million. The best road in the communal gardens area is Lansdowne Crescent (below) where a detached house sold for £10 million this year.
Up-and-coming areas: north of Westway in W10 is cheaper. Converted flats in the large houses in Oxford and Cambridge Gardens are increasingly popular, as are the Edwardian houses in the St Quintin conservation area.
The area around Latimer Road Tube station has a mix of uses, from the yellow-striped HQ of Monsoon to the Louise T Blouin Institute gallery in a former warehouse. Find here pretty, Victorian, two-storey cottages and three-storey terraces around Treadgold Street which sell for between £550,000 and £800,000.
What’s new: architects Michaelis Boyd, who refitted Mr Cameron’s house, have designed three eco houses in a gated mews off Portland Road. One four-bedroom house remains at £2.95 million via Hamptons (020 7034 0404). The northern corner between the railway and Harrow Road is being regenerated.
Places For People has a development, St Thomas (020 7843 3866), of 69 flats above a school in Appleford Road. Six flats remain for sale, with prices starting at £230,000 for one bedroom and £340,000 for two.
Schools: Notting Hill has many private nurseries and prep schools, most notably boys’ pre-prep Wetherby in Pembridge Square, where Hugh Grant and Princes William and Harry attended. Pembridge Hall is a girls’ prep. Fox in Kensington Place and Thomas Jones in St Mark’s Road are the two state primaries with the best results. Both are judged “outstanding” by Ofsted.
State comprehensives include Holland Park and two Catholic schools, Sion-Manning for girls in St Charles Square and Cardinal Vaughan for boys in Addison Road. All get above-average results at GCSE. Top private day schools are easily accessible.
Shops and restaurants: you could spend days exploring the shops. In spite of threats from developers, the crowds, buzz and clatter of the Saturday antiques market continue. Westbourne Grove and Ledbury Road feature upmarket boutiques and chain stores. Golborne Road has antique furniture shops and there are further clusters of stores along Portland Road and All Saints Road.
Highly rated restaurants include the pan-Asian E&O in Blenheim Crescent, The Ledbury in Ledbury Road and Hereford Road in Hereford Road.
Leisure and the arts: there are swimming pools at the council-owned Kensington Leisure Centre in Walmer Road and Virgin Active in Lancaster Road, as well as three cinemas — the Coronet, Gate and Electric Cinema.
Transport: Notting Hill is well-served by the Tube. Notting Hill Gate is in Zone 1 on the Central, District and Circle lines. Latimer Road, Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park are in Zone 2.
Council: Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (Conservative).
Council tax band D: £1,079.12.
Average sale prices:
One-bedroom flat: £444,502
Two-bedroom flat: £716,187
Two-bedroom house: £770,000
Three-bedroom house: £1.5 million
One-bedroom flat: £300,063
Two-bedroom flat: £421,560
Two-bedroom house: £443,369
Three-bedroom house: £617,059
Four-bedroom house: £1.02 million
One-bedroom flat: £387,004
Two-bedroom flat: £649,814
Two-bedroom house: £1.4 million
Four-bedroom house: £1.5 million
Renting: average lettings prices
Two-bedroom flat: £600+pw
Two-bedroom house: £650+pw
Four-bedroom house: £2,000+pw
Two-bedroom flat: £475+pw
Two-bedroom house: £500+pw
Four-bedroom house: £1,000+pw
Two-bedroom flat: £550+pw
Two-bedroom house: £600+pw
Four-bedroom house: £1,500+pw
Sources: Hometrack and Marsh & Parsons
Pictures by Barry Phillips
All details correct at time of publication (2 June, 2010)