Journey west, past the bustling mobs on Portobello Road, and you’ll discover that Notting Hill remains a quaint, secret hideaway. Winding rows of town homes show off their bright glossy doors. From the choice of knockers, and paint finishes to flower beds and door mats, each home exudes a great deal of charm and personality. And the best part of walking through this area during the hot days of summer is the open windows. Sometimes you can catch a glimpse of the worlds inside. One favorite view: a petite breakfast nook complete with white Vitra chairs and a vase of sunflowers. The whole space overlooked some beautiful park (which I presume must have been the green space tucked behind Holland Walk).
If you’re willing to wind up a discreetly labeled hill, canopied by trees, and unmarked as the formal entrance to arguably one of the best parks in London, then you’re in for a treat. Trekking up Holland Walk looks a bit like walking to some kind of world in Alice and Wonderland. It’s dark and woodsy yet lit by kelly green lamp posts. Though the turn says nothing, take a left, the only left you’ll find, and you’ll fall into ‘The Royal Borough of Chelsea and Kensington’ also know as Holland Park. It’s full of surprises like a zen garden, horse pasture, restaurant (Belvedere), playground, running trail and lawn full of picnickers. And in one Saturday morning I witnessed two weddings parties.
A Brief History
Notting Hill follows a classic tale of rags to riches. While Chelsea and Kensington have always been highly regarded, Notting Hill was west London’s slum until the early 80s. Originally, brick makers, pig farmers and immigrants were the primary residents. Thus, since Notting Hill’s earliest development the neighborhood was known for its offbeat and artistic nature. The famously colorful exteriors and the chaotic Portobello Market, continue to reflect the region’s quirky personality. That said, the new ‘Notting Hill Set’ prove a major shift in the neighborhood’s reputation. Today, homeowners include Richard Branson, Robbie Williams, Elle Macpherson, Victoria and David Beckham, Elton John and the prime minister, David Cameron.