Famous for its starring role in the 1990s romantic comedy film Notting Hill, Portobello Road Market is an unmissable attraction for those wanting to sample a slice of the everyday multicultural London experience and anyone on the look-out for some quality bargains in everything from fashion to fruit and veg and antiques to bric-a-brac. Located in the elegant yet ethnically diverse West London district of Notting Hill (of course), it offers visitors one of the essential, absolutely authentic British market experiences and – in more detail – here’s exactly why…
Portobello Road Market breaks down into several sections, each of which is dedicated to specific types of goods and located on different streets of the neighbourhood:
Antiques and bric-a-brac
(Portobello Road, Chepstow Villas and Elgin Crescent)
Arguably the market’s biggest attraction is the section dedicated to antiques and bric-a-brac, which can be found along a half-mile-long stretch of road near Notting Hill Tube station; blessed with a cornucopia of delightful items that date from decades and even centuries past, the stalls are packed with the likes of glassware, silver trinkets and crystal treasures, as well as books of all kinds, home ware classics, rarities and many more collectables
Fruit and veg
(Portobello Road, Elgin Crescent and Talbot Road)
Ideal should you fancy picking up some fresh food the old-fashioned way, these stalls are crammed full of delicious, healthy items sourced from throughout the UK and the world; they’re joined in this section by pop-ups vending cheese, cakes and fresh fish
(Portobello Road and Westway)
If the opportunity to pick up some decent clothing at affordable prices is what’s primarily drawn you to the market, then the fashion-dedicated section’s where you’ll want to make a beeline, for it’s here you’ll find stall upon stall selling both quality second-hand clobber and trendy couture dreamt up by young designers; in truth, though, like the antiques section, the clothing end of the market’s properly comprehensive – serving up everything from real/ fake fur coats to leather jackets and vintage/ retro bags to clichéd tourist t-shirts
Second hand goods/ new goods
(Westway to Golborne Road/ Talbot Road and Westway)
Mostly a mainstay of West London locals, these sections feature the more East Enders-style, down and dirty market traders renowned for offering punters the likes of cheap socks, plastic toys and batteries; that said, it’s certainly worth your while having a schmooze about if you up for hunting a second-hand clothes bargain.
As vibrant, colourful and dynamic an outdoor market you’ll come across anywhere in the UK then, Portobello Road’s incarnation makes for a mile-long stretch of stalls, pop-ups and street performers over-spilling with hustle, haggle and unbridled energy. It’s the perfect place to get your fill of genuine West London life one morning or afternoon should you be staying nearby at, say, a hotel in Hyde Park London (for instance, the Hyde Park International – Member of Park Grand London). But when should you actually pay a visit?
Well, the market’s open six days a week, although some days for fewer hours than others. As you’d expect, its biggest visitor traffic comes at the weekend when it’s open longest (9am-7pm on Fridays and Saturdays), but be aware it’s not open at all on Sundays. During the week it’s open almost as long (9am-6pm Monday-Wednesdays), but Thursday constitute a half-day, which is common to British markets; even major ones (9am-1pm). In more detail then:
- Friday – the second busiest day of the week on which you can sample the sections dedicated to antiques and bric-a-brac (Portobello Road), food, fashion and accessories (middle of Portobello Road and elsewhere), vintage clothing and accessories (north Portobello Road and Portobello Green) and bric-a-brac and furniture (Golborne Road)
- Saturday – the market’s busiest day, which means you can savour the thing in its entirety; so we’re talking, in addition to what’s available on a Friday, a bumper dose of specialist antiques stalls and pop-ups (Portobello Road and Westbourne Grove) and, although there’s less vintage clothing, more modern fashion (Portobello Green)
- Monday-Wednesday – on most week days the sections offering fresh fruit and veg, household goods, bric-a-brac and mostly vintage clothes are the big draw (between Elgin Crescent and Westway on Portobello Road), while you can pick up further fruit and veg and hot snacks (Golborne Road)
- Thursday – open only in the morning and at lunchtime, none of the stalls beyond Portobello Road or Golborne Road trade on Thursdays
- Bank Holidays – apart from Good Friday, the market isn’t open at all on any official England-and-Wales-observed public holidays.