Is there anywhere in London with more Instagram landmarks than delightful, idyllic Notting Hill?
Strolling through Notting Hill, you enter a dreamy, whimsical paradise with vintage shop fronts and painted terraced row houses. The neighbourhood shimmers in pastel tones of lilac, blush, mint, and pale blue.
I've been coming here for three years and finally feel I've worked out a route for capturing the maximum number of Instagram-famous sites in a single walk.
This week, I led a group from the American Women's Club of London on this photo walk. I loved the enthusiasm these ladies had for taking the cutest portraits. So I will also share some images which were kindly sent to me after the walk - they are lovely!
As always, I'm going to explain the walk in detail, but at the bottom of this post is a button you can use to see this route more clearly on a map.
Whenever I come to Notting Hill, I like to start at the tube exit on Notting Hill Gate. There are actually about four exits, so begin at the one nearest to Waterstones bookshop.
A charming flower shop is around the corner, off Kensington Church Street. It’s called John & Jesse and it's a perfect place to pick up some flowers for your walk. Portraits just look nicer with flowers!
So, if you're on Notting Hill Gate - the side of the street with Waterstones - I like to begin photographing in the residential area behind this busy, buzzing thoroughfare.
This section of subdued but photogenic streets doesn’t seem to have a distinct name. It's not exactly Notting Hill, but it's not fully Kensington either!
What you're aiming for is the tiny alleyway that's between Le Pain Quotidien cafe and The Gate Cinema. (The intersection of Farmer Street and Uxbridge Street.)
The area is comprised of about six parallel streets. It's a quiet, serene pastel wonderland!
I love it back here because it's a much less busy version of similarly styled cottages on Portobello Road. But most people don't know about these, so you're more likely to have the place to yourself.
There are three Insta-famous houses that you may not have realised are hiding in this little enclave:
If you wander in this area, you will definitely find these three landmarks with little trouble. But this entire area is really charming. And during my tour with the American Women's Club, we took some beautiful images here which I really want to share with you!
After you've explored this area (and I could easily spend an hour here!), return to Notting Hill Gate (the main road). Cross the street and find Pembridge Road.
This area is dense with Instagram landmarks, so I'm going to number them for clarity. There are seven in total.
1. The Blue House on Pembridge Road
Look for this picturesque bright blue house on Pembridge Road, before Portobello Road.
The shuttered house is made even cuter by the long-stemmed, red flowers cascading out of the upstairs windows - windows which I've noticed have been thrown open all summer long!
2. Iconic Cottages on Portobello Road
Painted pastel terrace row houses stretch along one side of Portobello Road. I take photos here over and over because something is always changing.
As the seasons progress, different flowers - wisteria in Spring, roses and dahlias in Summer, snowberries in Autumn, pine wreaths in Winter - continuously alter the appearance of these houses on your camera roll. The light plays upon the vibrant paint colours in different ways, at different times of the day and the year.
At this point, if you want to stop for a super photogenic snack consider Farm Girl Cafe, just across from these houses.
4. Portobello Road Shops: Alice's
From here, continue down Portobello Road photographing the colourful antique vendors, cafes, bakeries and shops.
Look out for Denbigh Terrace which is a little turn-off to the right, with even more brightly coloured houses.
And be sure to capture Alice's - the famous red antique shop on the corner with tea sets and wooden chests artfully overflowing onto the street.
5. The black and white facade of Bisquiteers
As you walk down Portobello, make a left onto Blenheim Crescent and another left at the end of the block.
Photograph the iconic Biscuiteers shop and then consider popping in for a cup of tea and one of their gorgeous cookies. Of course the shop is charming and it's worth taking a look at the colourful, edible masterpieces! My favourite is the box of iced Notting Hill houses.
Find your way back to Portobello Road. If you're looking for somewhere to sit down, have a peak into Fabrique at 212 Portobello Road.
This Sweedish bakery has become an Instagram foodie destination, and their treats are delicious. The marble tables yield beautiful photos, before you tuck in. Their specialties are the cinnamon, vanilla, and cardamon buns!
6. St. Lukes Mews
From here you should see the intersecting street called Westbourne Park Road. You need to make a right onto this street and carry on, walking slightly up hill (but there are more cute pastel houses!) until you get to the second left which is called All Saints Road. If you turn here, you should see the instantly recognisable St. Lukes Mews.
These cottages are absolutely charming and couldn't be more perfect for photos: cobbled streets, yellow flowers, and bicycles leaning up against painted pink and green exteriors.
This pink one - used in the film Love Actually - has become so ubiquitous on Instagram that the owner now asks for a charity donation through the letterbox in exchange for photos!
I love this group image of everyone standing on St. Lukes Mews, from our American Women's Club walk:
7. Rainbow Houses
As you come out of St. Lukes Mews, aim for Lancaster Road. If you look to your left (West), you will see the recognisable Notting Hill rainbow houses.
These are so iconic! You can experiment with different types of light by coming to this spot at different times of day.
This is where I would end my Instagram walk. But, in reality, stopping here in this residential area is not a convenient place to be.
From this point, you can either walk up Portobello Road (retracing your steps) - but you've already seen these sights.
With the American Women's Club, we wound our way to Westbourne Grove which brings you into an area full of cute shops and cafes, including a Daylesford if you're looking for another cup of tea and a rest!
If you decide to take this route, I recommend making your way east (see the map!) and finding Ledbury Road and then Lonsdale Road for a few more Instagram images! (The famous Union Jack flag-wrapped front door is on Ledbury Road, and the hot pink "bank robber" house is at the west end of Lonsdale Road.)
If you follow this route you will ultimately emerge at the Wild At Heart flower stall - located on the mint-coloured, Art Deco roundabout.
If you do this entire route start to finish with no breaks, it takes about three hours or maybe a bit more. It's roughly three and a half miles.
If you stop at a couple of the places I mentioned to enjoy a cup of tea and maybe eat something, I think you can make a whole day of this route. There are also some interesting shops you might wish to explore along Portobello Road.
I hope you've enjoyed this tour!
By the way, this is my favourite route for photographing lots of spots that are already really famous on Instagram. But of course there are lots of other ways of seeing Notting Hill!
I want to do another route in the Spring that will reveal the best spots for wisteria photos in this lovely part of London.
Please use the button below to generate a map! And see you again soon!