Exploring London Neighborhoods – Hipmunk City Love
Ever since Hugh Grant slipped while illegally climbing into one of Notting Hill’s private gardens in the movie Notting Hill and exclaimed, “Whoopsie Daisy,” I’ve been obsessed with exploring London’s many quirky and colorful neighborhoods. Secretly, I hope to catch a glimpse of Spike walking down the street wearing a scuba mask and an inappropriate T-shirt (preferably not in his whitey tighties). This is the London I want to see – the real London beyond the royal family and popular tourist attractions.
Of course, there is something to be said for the “must-see” sights of London. The next time you book a hotel in London, my recommendation is to knock those out in a day tour and then begin exploring one of these vibrant London neighborhoods.
Yes, I’m starting here because, well, I’m the author and can do what I want. Notting Hill is also the best romantic comedy ever made. The real Notting Hill’s claim to fame for visitors is its Portobello Market. In the market, which occurs every Saturday, shoppers can find everything from food to antiques to an eclectic mix of clothing, art, and crafts. In August, the neighborhood hosts Europe’s largest carnival.
Resist the conformity of the tourist crowds and check out the punk rock side of London in the neighborhood of Camden Town. Find a sidewalk café and enjoy some serious people watching as neighborhood residents show off their many piercings and neon-colored hair. Explore the rock-and-roll lifestyle and take a picture with your friends mimicking the Beatles’ famous walk in front of Abbey Road Studios or visit Hawley Arms, Amy Winehouse’s favorite bar. The neighborhood boasts plenty of music halls to embrace London’s current music scene.
While you’re exploring the creative side of London, why not visit one of the city’s more artistic neighborhoods of Hampstead? Former residents of the neighborhood include poets TS Eliot and John Keats, actors Dame Judy Dench and Stephen Fry, and artists John Constable and Lee Miller. Grab your notebook or laptop, find a seat in one of the neighborhood’s many cafes, and try to soak up some of that creative inspiration. The neighborhood is also home to many boutiques that are worth a visit. In the summer, locals flock to the natural bathing ponds on the heath to escape the heat.
For a true break from the city without leaving the city, head over to Hyde Park where the elite live the country lifestyle. Spend the afternoon mimicking their way of life by enjoying a horse or boat ride in the park. For added fun, visit the park on Sunday for Speaker’s Corner and enjoy some entertaining soapbox rants.
If time allows, explore beyond London to help add a sense of history to the city and country. A favorite tour will take you to Bath, Stonehenge, and Salisbury for a look back in history at how London came to be so eccentric.
Who Else Thinks Notting Hill is one of the Best Movies Ever?
This article is part of the #HipmunkCityLove series.