A guide to London’s Westbourne Grove, with local interiors’ enthusiast Amira Hashish
To celebrate the opening of Soho.Home.Studio Westbourne Grove, the Rapport founder and host of ‘The Upgrade’ podcast – and Electric House member – takes us on a design-led tour of her favourite places to eat, drink and shop in the neighbourhood
Sunday 17 July By Amira Hashish
Westbourne Grove has my heart. I like to think of it as Notting Hill’s chic bohemian aunt. It strikes a beautiful balance of sophistication and shabbiness with a humble, friendly charm. At its core is a long-standing community who have watched the neighbourhood blossom into the hotspot it is today. It is a melting pot of people, architecture and places that exerts a ‘you-do-you’ kind of energy. All are welcome in this eclectic, vibrant village.
As a design lover, I am endlessly inspired by its vintage street-markets, the colourful buildings and the interiors that deck out local stores, eateries and drinking dens. Getting lost in the maze of pastel-coloured mews’ and terraces is a joy, while nipping to the weekend flea market on Golborne Road to see what the vendors have stocked up on this week has to be one of London’s loveliest things to do.
There are too many wonderful spots to mention – and part of the fun is stumbling upon them yourself – but if you are making a pilgrimage to the new Soho.Home.Studio, here are some of my favourite things to do, see and visit in the neighbourhood.
There’s a wealth of great architecture to discover in and around Westbourne Grove. St Luke’s Mews is surely one of London’s prettiest cobblestone streets with its sherbet-coloured homes and served as the backdrop to that Keira Knightley scene in Love Actually. Very different, but equally striking is Ernő Goldfinger’s triumph of brutalist architecture and a much-loved landmark, the Grade II-listed Trellick Tower, while over on Portobello Road itself, you’ll find the Electric Cinema. A fine example of Edwardian design with its striking blue façade, it’s one of the oldest working cinemas in Britain – and just around the corner is the famous blue front door that featured in the Notting Hill movie.
You are never short of great dining options in and around Westbourne Grove. Pop along to Franklin’s for a glass of something and stock up on tips on how to make a small space pop while you eye up the interiors with its characterful touches and artwork on the walls. A little further along is Granger & Co, which has queues around the block for brunch every weekend, as does newer kid on the block, Beam. Sumi is the place for sushi; try Seasons for seafood; Taqueria if you are in the mood for Mexican; or Farmacy for inventive veggie dishes; while new cocktail bar and eatery The Residency puts the spotlight on women artists as part of its design scheme.
Drop into Pizza East, on the corner of Golborne and Portobello, for industrial style and a rustic slice. Gold is the spot for a fun night out with a group of friends over sharing plates and cocktails – I often combine a visit with a nightcap at Electric House, just down the road. Nearby Kensington Park Road is packed with brilliant independent restaurants, including Jackson Boxer’s Orasay, Tel Aviv inspired Haya and a trio of cosy Italian trattorias: Osteria Basilico, Osteria Napoletana and Mediterraneo.
Dinner at six-table, fine-dining spot 104 Restaurant – the smallest in London, apparently – on Chepstow Road, feels like stepping into a perfectly formed living room (head chef and owner Richard Wilkins lives just upstairs). Keep an eye out for the bookshelves that double as wine racks; a nifty idea.
Some of London’s finest pubs are on the doorstep. The Walmer Castle has recently had a revamp and is ideal for low-key people watching. The Cow is the rock ’n’ roll stalwart, while freshly revamped The Pelican, on All Saints Road, is the second opening on the street by James Gummer and Phil Winser, whose 7 Saints restaurant is a stone’s throw away. They’ve done a grand job of working with artisans to layer colours, textures and details and create a homely ambience – I am as obsessed with the interiors as I am the lobster pie.
One of my favourite things to do on a weekend is pick up a coffee and indulge in some flea market shopping. The Tin Shed on All Saints Road is my go-to when on dog aunty duty with my beloved Lhasa Apso ‘niece’ Ella. The banana buckwheat pancakes are so yummy (Ella is a fan too). Conscience Kitchen is a few doors up and full of treats, while Layla Bakery on Portobello is a heavenly café with the best loaves. Buns from Home started as a lockdown baking project by founder Barney in his mum's Notting Hill kitchen and has blossomed into a neighbourhood treasure – it is the place for the most mouth-watering tiramisu buns.
Both Sally Clarke and Natoora serve Allpress, which is my must for a caffeine fix. Likewise, Bodyism, which has flavourful healthy bites to boot. For anyone seeking beautifully decorated pink lattes, head to Farm Girl – locals Rose Mann and Anthony Hill kicked off their cafe legacy at this colourful Antipodean hideaway tucked down a cobbled alley, with pleasingly bold interiors by Beata Heuma.
I am so happy that Soho Home has opened in the heart of the neighbourhood on Westbourne Grove. I am forever inspired by the beautifully crafted furniture and love seeing it in situ. As a vintage fiend, the pieces sourced by Anna Unwin instantly caught my eye.
Just across the road from Soho Home is Nikki Tibbles’ Wild at Heart flower shop, located on The Turquoise Island. The listed structure was designed by architect Piers Gough, creator of London’s National Portrait Gallery, in 1993 and it – enhanced by Tibbles’ florals – is a burst of joy.
As a regular visitor to many of the stallholders on Golborne Road, I’m in my element browsing their stands on a Saturday. (Shout out to Del and his unrivalled bamboo collection.) On the same road, you’ll find Trove by Studio Duggan – created by Soho House member and interior designer, Tiffany Duggan, it’s a lovely place to wander around.
The area is brimming with independent boutiques but some to get lost in are Couverture + The Garbstore for clothing, Summerill & Bishop for table linen, and Four Store for terrariums. There are also fabulous antiques shops, including Muirshin Durkin, Arbon Interiors and Universal Providers. Nip over to Hari’s for a blow-dry when you’re done, and you’re all set for whatever might be to come.
Amira Hashish is the founder of Notting Hill headquartered creative studio Rapport (clubrapport.com) which specialises in design, travel and lifestyle. She writes about home and interiors for global publications including a regular column in the Evening Standard. She is also the contributing editor of SUITCASE Magazine and the host of its podcast The Upgrade.