Portobello Market in West London is visited every Friday and Saturday by nearly 100,000 guests. Representatives of every single nation in the world stroll past a mile-long strip of multicolored Victorian homes, attracted by the vibrant spirit. Nearly 150 years old, Portobello Road Market started out as a village and its old charm is still present today. Some of the store holders here have been around for four generations; they are an authentic group of people who know how to laugh and tell a good story.
This is not just a common market with fresh vegetables and fruit, antiques, jewellery and vintage clothes. A mix of cultures coupled with a rich artistic life, make this area very interesting to travel to and even to live in. Portobello Market is easily accessible from Notting Hill Gate, Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park tube station and by bus routes servicing Ladbroke Grove and Notting Hill Gate.
In the recent years, more and more local shops have been closed to make room for larger commercial chains and even a mall. Save the Portobello Market is a growing movement which has gathered almost 40 000 Facebook followers. According to Financial Times, the main reason why small boutiques are being closed down is rising rents and falling takings. “Thanks to the film Notting Hill, Portobello Road has become a tourist destination and that’s not great news for traders,” says author Blanche Girouard, whose recent book Portobello Voices features interviews with stall-owners, shopkeepers and local characters, many of whom testify to feeling driven out by the changes.
A completely distinct experience, but not less culturally notable is a visit to London’s Chinatown. Located 27 minutes away from Portobello Market (by taking a tube then walking), this colorful and diverse area contains a number of Chinese restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets and souvenir shops.
Why should you take a walk through here during your stay in London? Simply because it’s an exciting escapade bursting with color and sound. A good chance to try out some basic Mandarin, explore new tastes (Asian cuisine is a feast for the senses) in one of the 80 restaurants in the area and buy cooking ingredients for further ventures of the kind. Here are some great tips on where to eat in Chinatown, London.
The massive task of buying a gift for friends back home can also be achieved here, since you are likely to find anything you put your mind to. Don’t understand this the wrong way, we are certainty not huge fans of Chinese souvenir shops, but we are up to experiencing a cultural adventure anytime and perhaps this is how you should see Gerrard Street (the main “vein” of London’s Chinatown), as a place for discovering the novelties of a different lifestyle.
We’ve chosen Portobello Road Market and Chinatown as two main hubs for visitors looking to experience something memorable when in London. They are located relatively close to one another, so visiting one does not exclude visiting the other. We’ve also gathered two accommodation suggestions: Notting Hill Guesthouse (a bed and breakfast budget-friendly option ) and London Hotel Suites (for those in search of ultimate relaxation).