By Clementine Wallop
There’s loads for grown-ups and babies alike on and around world-famous Portobello Road. Here are my favourite hangouts:
Getting there: Notting Hill Gate isn’t a good Tube station with a pushchair. Perilous stairs; loads of people, especially on market days; long escalators to and from the Central Line; the Circle Line that comes but once a year. This corner of West London is badly served for accessible Tube stops, but your best bet is Holland Park, which has lifts most of the way from platform to surface. The walk from Holland Park to Portobello, assuming you avoid less than lovely Notting Hill Gate itself, is all pretty pastel houses and shops selling exorbitant and exquisite interiors.
Shopping: Children’s clothes shop Sasti in the Portobello Green arcade stocks witty and fun kit, both in-house designs and small independent labels. I love the cord dresses and jackets with embroidered stars and moons, and the crocheted London landmarks. Yes, you do need a woolly Big Ben.
Getting your hair did: Nottii Hill Salon, also in the Portobello Green arcade, specialises in haircuts for the wriggly, the noisy and the intransigent. Stylists are patient, friendly and ever ready with a biscuit. Your baby can sit in a fire engine and watch Peppa while you attempt to hold them still.
Coffee: Portobello is sadly now home to every big chain you’d see on any London street, but there are plenty of smaller set-ups with more character. Bluebelle’s at the north end of the road has plenty of buggy space and no step up inside. Danish joint Snaps and Rye, nearby on Golborne Road, does an addictive liquorice latte; its staff are the nicest to babies in all W10 and there are buckets of Duplo for throwing around. Pedlars serves Allpress coffee, is a premium dogspotting venue and is seconds away from the swings on Colville Square.
Cinema: The famously cool Electric Cinema runs a parent-and-baby screening at 11am every Monday called Electric Scream. I have seen mothers clinking champagne glasses as the lights go down because hey, Notting Hill’s gonna Notting Hill. If you can, bring the baby in a carrier rather than the buggy to avoid retrieving yours from a tangle of 100 identical Bees and Chameleons.
Need some space: Head for The Tabernacle on nearby Talbot Road. You can have a juice, a cocktail or a meal, but the appeal here is for a little time out from Portobello on a crammed market day. There’s outside seating for summer, and an endless calendar of fun and interesting events. At the time of writing there’s everything happening here from steelpan lessons to Krav Maga classes (for you, not the baby…).
Eat: The diner at the Electric has big booths and plenty of pushchair parking at the back, and serves up some mean hash browns. The branch of Gail’s on the corner by Westbourne Grove gets busy and is, yes, a chain, but makes the list because of a) the cheese straws and b) the ramp that makes access easy. In the week, the Moroccan fish grills on Golborne Road are fun; the smells entice you from the top of the street. When the weather’s good of a weekend, head to Acklam Village Food Market, where you can grab a bite and then sit and watch Portobello go by. After comprehensive testing, our favourite is the Turkish stall, which does delicious gozleme. You will eat to the sound of incredibly loud reggae from the record stall.
Drink: A short walk from Portobello onto Ladbroke Grove is The Elgin. Welcoming to families, spacious, and always with a highchair and some chips on hand, yet still a proper pub, and one that has a wide selection of gins, including the neighbourhood’s own Portobello Road Gin.