London is one of my favorite cities in the world, not to mention the part-time base of 84 Rooms. But for those visiting for a fleeting weekend or longer sojourn, it can be hard to choose just one of its charming neighborhoods. As much as new restaurant openings, the arts, or a particular store can take me around the city, I always return to its western flank to Notting Hill, Kensington, and Holland Park. The streets are leafy and the houses palatial, the shops chic and the brunch-to-dinner options top-notch — and there are plenty of people watching too. As we move into the full flushes of spring, when the capital is festooned with cascades or wisteria and magnolia, I share my insider’s guide to this west London neighborhood’s most stylish addresses.
Cafes, Delis & Breakfast
I like to start our day at the Danish-inspired Hjem in Kensington. It’s the perfect pitstop for your morning coffee and watching passers-by, plus they do the best pastries.
If you want more of a sit-down breakfast, Farm Girl Notting Hill is a very good-looking option with a classic, Aussie-style menu. If you can get a seat in the courtyard on a sunny day and order one of its much-loved acai bowls, you’re winning. Handily, it’s also just opened a location in South Kensington.
Another option for brunch — that might turn into lunch — is the Golborne Deli, it’s one of the best delicatessens in west London with an incredible sustainable wine selection. I order the Eggs Hemmingway or its pies and quiches for lunch.
Layla Bakery, found on a corner at the top end of Portobello Road in Notting Hill has some of the best pastries and sandwiches in West London.
When it comes to lunch, it’s hard to beat Granger & Co on Westbourne Grove. It has become a little too popular with Instagrammers, but their ricotta hotcakes are still to die for. I like to sit at the counter and enjoy the people watching.
For something a little different, I think Sumi — also on Westbourne Grove — does the best sushi in Notting Hill.
Straker's on Golborne Road by famed British chef Thomas Straker is well worth a visit for a long lunch – if you can get in.
For a romantic dinner, my favorite spot is 7 Saints. It has a delicious seasonal menu and a spot-on atmosphere — just make sure you book ahead.
If you’re looking for a place to go with a group of friends, the Mediterranean-inspired Gold is right on Portobello Road. The menu is great for vegetarians, think stracciatella with anchovies, roasted delicata squash, and chargrilled hispi cabbage.
Juan Santa’s restaurant Casa Cruz in Holland Park is easily the chicest dining spot in the neighborhood. It has sublime Argentinian food and the most beautiful bathrooms in town.
Reopened after some rather extensive renovations on the most picturesque square in Holland Park, Julie’s has been a neighborhood classic since the 1960s. There’s a champagne bar for celebrations and killer cocktails, too.
Pubs & Wine Bars
I can never resist a good wine bar, and Notting Hill’s Cépage is one of the best. Small but perfectly formed, it’s perfect for a date.
The Pelican on All Saints Road is the place to be in W11 right now. Ask for the table right in front of the fireplace and settle in for an evening of brilliant simplicity.
If you want proper British pub vibes, the Ladbroke Arms in Holland Park is one of West London’s finest. Tiny but with incredible food, it also has a beautiful terrace for summer days.
Grocers & Butchers
Supermarket of Dreams in Holland Park feels more like being in a nightclub than a food store. Embrace the incredible design and don’t look at the price tags.
Carnivores should head to C. Lidgate on Holland Park Avenue, which is an absolute institution. And if you’re lucky, you might bump into David Beckham on a Saturday morning — he lives across the street.
One of the oldest bookstores in London, Daunts is a wonderful place to simply hang out on a Saturday afternoon. You’ll find me in the travel section.
Right next to Julie’s on Clarendon Cross, you’ll find Myriad, which carries a great selection of rustic antiques from the countryside.
The Princess Royal in Notting Hill is my new favorite pub with rooms in W11. Tastefully restored and ablaze with vibrant spaces including a light-flooded conservatory, grand private feasting rooms, four boutique bedrooms, and two splendid terraces by Jinny Blom. The food offering is inspired by the gloriously sun-drenched Mediterranean way of life, as well as a focus on seasonality and bountiful British produce.
84 Rooms recommends: An Insider’s Guide To The Most Stylish Spots In East London, and The Best Restaurants In London.