You’ve seen the movie, now explore the real location from the iconic rom-com starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant.
Following on from the 20th anniversary of the release of Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts’ Notting Hill, what better time could there be than now to revisit the real-life Notting Hill and its iconic locations? Are you pining for a simpler time, when movies contained fewer superheroes and more quirky, bumbling Brits wandering their way through sentimental romcoms inaccessible European cities? Us too. It goes without saying that alongside Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, the wonderful bohemian, multicultural neighborhood of Notting Hill was the other standout star of the eponymous movie, which means, pick the right spots in the neighborhood and a visit to West London is sort of like meeting your movie hero. Follow on for the most important locations from Notting Hill.
Portobello Road Market
Turn up at Portobello Road Market in full swing and the fact that it was a key component in the opening scenes of Notting Hill will seem secondary, given that this regular weekly market immediately seduces all visitors with its quirky charms. Sure, happily roam the street as if you’re Hugh Grant’s character, William Thacker, on your way to work, but break character to enjoy the array of stalls lined up and down the street. The market is open in different forms throughout the week but it’s best to visit on a Saturday when you’ll find the famous antique section doing a roaring trade alongside stalls dealing in vintage fashion, second-hand bric-a-brac, and street food.
The Notting Hill Bookshop
Is there a more romantic movie profession than a bookseller? No, there is not. But it’s not all pondering the merits of the great works of literature and receiving surprise visits from A-list American movie stars like Julia Roberts. In fact, the reality of the book trade meant that the real-life inspiration for Notting Hill’s Travel Book Company, owned and run by William Thacker, went out of business several years ago. However, fans can still get their fix at the reopened Notting Hill Bookshop at number 13 Blenheim Crescent, whose original interior was remodeled for the film’s fictional shop. The store has even named its rear section “The Travel Book Co.” in homage to the movie so expect to bump into fellow fans here and, according to the owners, you might even witness a proposal. Keep your ears pricked for the immortal line, “I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”
The Coronet Theatre
When Will Thackery wants to see Anna Scott’s sci-fi short on the big screen he takes himself to the Coronet Cinema in Notting Hill, but while visitors will no longer find a cinema at the location at 103, Notting Hill Gate, they will discover a beautifully-restored 19th-century theatre in its place. Catch a show from the varied events program (the Coronet Theatre hosts dance, poetry, and plays) and sit safely in the knowledge that what you’re viewing is likely far more highbrow than Helix, starring Anna Scott.
Nobu London Old Park Lane
You’ll need lunch on this tour so head to A-list favorite Nobu on Old Park Lane where you can both dine on exquisite Peruvian-Japanese fusion dishes and enjoy the backdrop to the scene when Julia Roberts takes down a table of men overheard trash-talking her. Come for the Notting Hill connection and potential celebrity spots, stay for the ceviche.
Lush city squares are a highlight of West London and its wide streets lined with stucco-fronted houses and Notting Hill has more than its fair share; the only problem is they’re all private. If you’re not a resident and don’t know anyone who is, then you’ll have to make do with peering through the locked gates into Rosemead Gardens, the site of the late-night trespassing between Will and Anna and that famous “Oopsie daisy” moment. For a glimpse into how the other half lives, the city hosts Open Garden Squares one weekend a year, when most of London’s gardens open their gates and welcome the public. The next Open Garden Squares Weekend falls on June 6 and 7, 2020.
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Even if The Savoy’s Lancaster Room didn’t set the scene for the iconic press conference in which Will asks Anna whether she would be willing to reconsider her decision to leave Britain, the famous hotel landmark would still be worth the detour from Notting Hill just to experience the sheer drama of its interior style. Such is the luxury at The Savoy, one night under its regal roof and, like Anna, you might consider staying, ahem, indefinitely.
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Another reason to divert from Notting Hill on account of location-scouting is The Ritz, Anna/Julia Roberts’ home from home while in London. Claiming you’re from Horse and Hound Magazine probably won’t gain you entry to any of the rooms on the upper floors–you’ll have to pay for that privilege–but a cocktail in the Rivoli Bar or afternoon tea in the Palm Court are two ways to do like you’re an international film star on a working vacation.
The 17th century stately home of Kenwood House is one of Hampstead Heath’s architectural gems, so no surprise that it’s chosen as a set for the Henry James period drama that Anna is shooting in her film within a film scene. The building is open to the public year-round and the surrounding beauty of Hampstead Heath puts the “rom” firmly in rom-com.
The Blue Door at 280 Westbourne Park Road
It may only be a door but to Notting Hill fans the iconic blue door that symbolizes Will Thacker’s flat is maybe the most important location of all. Once home to Notting Hill screenwriter Richard Curtis, the property was sold after the movie and the door briefly switched color to black–spoilsports. Fortunate for all concerned, the famous blue door returned to 280 Westbourne Park Road, so visitors continue to pose to their heart’s content in front of one of the movie world’s most famous front doors.
If you want to drown your sorrows come the end of the tour and you’re thinking of doing like Tony, Will’s friend, and enjoying a tipple in his eponymous restaurant, you’ll have to think again since Tony’s Restaurant was but a figment of Richard Curtis’ imagination. Still, you can always take your photo outside the building that inspired the restaurant–a stationery shop named Portfolio at 105 Golborne Road–before popping inside to buy a postcard to write home about the amazing time you had on your tour of Notting Hill movie locations.