Pastel-hued houses, famed antique markets and chic restaurants: it’s not hard to see where Notting Hill-based jeweller Roxanne ‘Rocky’ First gets the inspiration for her colourful, stackable jewellery from. Founded in 2018 and housed in a studio nestled within the west London jewellery hotspot of Ladbroke Grove, Rocky’s eponymous brand blends the aesthetics and atmosphere of this unique slice of the capital with the jeweller’s own South African and Italian roots, resulting in collectable, covetable pieces you’ll never want to take off.
Who better, then, than this local expert to give us the lowdown on the best of Notting Hill? From the must-visit restaurants and coolest clinics to tourist hotspots even life-long Londoners will love, read on for Roxanne First’s guide to Notting Hill.
The clinic: Skin Matters
Rocky says: Joanne, without doubt, is the best facialist in London and arguably beyond. I adore her and her amazing clinic, if you can call it that – it is more like a beautiful oasis in the middle of town. I was recommended Joanne by my best friend Clara and have never looked back; Joanne and her team at Skin Matters are a total game-changer.
We say: This stylish clinic has long been a go-to for London beauty aficionados in the know. Doing away with the usual sterile, lab-style space in favour of antique furnishings and plush fabrics, founder Joanne Evans is renowned for her highly personalised approach to skincare, with treatments blending traditional cleansing and massage with high-tech tools such as laser, infrared, IV drips and microdermabrasion to keep skin in optimal condition.
The entertainment: Electric Cinema
Rocky says: A super fancy and inviting cinema, with huge comfy velvet chairs and an even fancier assortment of cinema snacks. This is so indulgent, it’s wonderful!
We say: London isn’t short on high-end cinemas but Electric Cinema definitely ranks as one of the best. As well as offering the latest blockbusters and award-nominated must-sees, the programme also includes harder-to-find indie flicks and a series of child-friendly screenings on Saturday mornings. There’s also a fully-licensed bar and American-style Electric Diner on-site for the full date-night experience.
The boutique: Couverture and The Garbstore
Rocky says: A really cool shop for both menswear, womenswear and home. I tend to prefer the men’s section downstairs filled with oversized tees, hoodies and fantastic knits. It doesn’t feel as though it should be there but it is and it really works. Think the very best Japanese designers with cult favourites like Stüssy.
We say: While Mayfair may boast the big-name boutiques, Notting Hill is the place to find an interesting array of independent stores offering wares by brilliant but under-the-radar brands. Opened in 2008 by Emily Dyson and Ian Paley, Couverture & The Garbstore is a concept store housed in a gorgeously converted three-storey townhouse. Its offering is vast and carefully curated, so be warned: it’s easy to lose a whole afternoon browsing.
The sight: Rainbow houses
Rocky says: I am a huge fan of colour and will never not love to walk around those streets in Notting Hill lined with multi-coloured houses, it may be touristy but it still makes me happy. Wander down Portobello Road, Lancaster Road, Clarendon Road and Westbourne Grove, superb. Oh and Hillgate Place is also cute. There are also adorable mews houses dotted in and among these streets which are pretty lovely, the most famous – St Luke’s Mews – is featured in one of my favourite movies, Notting Hill.
We say: They may be ubiquitous but there’s a reason Notting Hill’s colourful homes still fill Instagram feeds everywhere. Accordingly, they qualify as some of London’s most famous streets, so no trip to the neighbourhood is complete without a visit. After all, you wouldn’t come to the capital without visiting Buckingham Palace or the Houses of Parliament, would you?
The shopping: Portobello Road market and Golborne Road
Rocky says: This really needs no explanation. Portobello market is full of magic: from antiques and vintage clothes to street food and random souvenirs, it is so fun. Golborne Road and its market are also brilliant if you are prepared to wander a little further.
We say: Portobello Road Market is one of London’s most unique shopping experiences and, whether you’re a first-timer or a regular visitor, there are always new treasures to be unearthed. The market runs every day except Sunday, with Saturday drawing the most stallholders and, in turn, the biggest crowds. The lesser-known Golborne Road market offers a similar range of vintage fashion, antiques and bric-a-brac and is a great option during the summer when Portobello is at its busiest.
The green space: Holland Park
Rocky says: One of my favourite parks, I often walk with my dearest friend Sophie and her baby. The Kyoto Garden is kind of unbelievable with its Koi ponds as well as peacocks – it seems outrageous but there are actual peacocks casually moseying around, it doesn’t feel like London at all.
We say: Londoners are lucky to live in one of the greenest cities in the world and its spaces like Holland Park that can really take you out of the urban environment. The largest park in Kensington & Chelsea, it covers 22.5 hectares, including landscaped gardens, woodland, children’s play areas, a cafe and an ecology centre. Sports lovers are also spoiled for choice with tennis courts, football pitches, golf practice nets, cricket nets and netball courts all available to book.
The restaurant: Suzi Tros
Rocky says: A restaurant with a pared-back aesthetic but the most delicious Greek food. I have never had a bad meal but good luck getting a table!
We say: This upscale neighbourhood eatery from the team behind Mazi serves up delicious fare inspired by the cuisine of Greek city Thessaloniki. The wine is accordingly relaxed, with guests invited to linger over Mediterranean-style cocktails and plates of smoked aubergine with tahini, shredded lamb shoulder tacos and coffee profiteroles.