Travel Guide – About moving to London and feeling like a local in Notting Hill
Since London is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, it is not surprising that many students from around the world come to study here. After I had decided to pursue a Master’s, I considered whether I should stay at home in Germany or continue my studies in London. Normally I’m not the type to leave my comfort zone, but this time I decided to go for it – and suddenly I was on the move.
I don’t think there is any other city where you can go out as well as in London. It has the perfect mix of classic restaurants and funky ones. It has an abundance of restaurants, bars and clubs. From the moment I decided to go to London, I started saving all kinds of hotspots in my Google Maps and couldn’t wait to try them all. Knowing that I would only spend one year in London, it was clear to me that I wanted to live in Notting Hill. Who hasn’t watched the film and imagined living next to the blue door? The first big hassle was finding a place to live that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. But after I found a flat, the exploration could begin.
We have all heard a lot about the usual things to do in London, such as visiting Buckingham Palace, Big Ben or Tower Bridge, and of course, you should visit all these attractions if you have never been to London. However, I hope that this blog will not give the usual tourist tips, but rather insights from a local student.
The first chapter of my blog will be about Notting Hill – my new home. But I’ll be taking a closer look at the other neighbourhoods over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!
Attracting millions of visitors every year to its rainbow-coloured houses and enviable gardens, Notting Hill is the perfect place to spend some time.
THINGS TO DO
Notting Hill offers a wide range of things to do, including a walk around all the beautiful houses, visiting a cinema and much more. Keep on reading!
London is one of the best cities in the world to test all kinds of culinary expertise. All flavours from around the world are gathered in this city, but for now, I will give you an insight into my favourites in Notting Hill.
TIPS FOR MOVING TO LONDON
Of course, my first travel guide has to include some tips for moving to London. A little taster: how to get around and how to make the most of your time in London!
THINGS TO DO
The first thing in London that captivated me was how green the city is. A stroll across Hyde Park may be started or ended in Notting Hill. You need about one to two hours for a walk through the whole park and the best part is that you see lots of dogs and squirrels. When you arrive, don’t stop walking – it’s the best way to see the beauty of Notting Hill!
Portobello Road is one of the most famous streets in Notting Hill, especially because many tourists come to see the book store from the film. But it also offers so much more. It has a rich history dating back to the 19th century with millions of people visiting the market each year. Every weekend it is filled with stalls from the market offering everything you can imagine – clothes, antiques and and and…. Portobello Road is a wonderful spot to spend your time whether you just want to wander, people-watch, find a deal, or have a bite to eat.
Super centrally located on Portobello Road is one of my favourite cinemas I have ever visited. The Electric Cinema is not the usual modern cinema we are so used to nowadays, but a more antique one, with only a small selection of films and big lounge chairs. At £25, it’s a slightly more expensive cinema, but you really do get a special experience for your money. Right next door is also the accompanying Electric Diner. (Saving tip: Save 50% if you visit the cinema on the same day).
I have never been a sporty type, however, going to a Pilates studio gets me to move. If you have a bit more time and stay in one of the local hotels, you should book an hour at Heartcore. The studio offers Performer Pilates, which I’ve only ever known from Victoria’s Secret Angels in America. But it provides a super relaxing yet exhausting experience and is one of the nicest studios I know. I don’t think you will feel like exercising after walking around the city all day, but I didn’t want to miss this recommendation!
Since I’m a student and London is very expensive, I mostly ate at home, but since my family and friends were visiting, we also tried a few restaurants. I have to say that my favourite restaurants are all more or less breakfast and lunch restaurants, so please let me know where you like to eat for dinner!
I think the selection of images below speaks for itself – yumm!
Granger & Co brings an Australian flair to Notting Hill and offers all-day dining, but specialises in breakfast and brunch. I recommend ordering scrambled eggs and pancakes! On weekends the restaurant gets very busy, but you have the option of being put on a waiting list and receiving a notification as soon as a table is available for you.
Ottolenghi was founded in 2002 as a small shop in Notting Hill and can now be found several times in London. It is named after a British chef who has published several bestselling cookbooks. The shop serves breakfast, lunch and baked goods. It only offers takeaway food, which is super nice for a picnic in Hyde Park in the summer.
My heart beats for Italian food. You can find the best pizza in London (approved by Italians!) at Cinque Cento, a super authentic place that offers Neapolitan pizzas. The founders came from Italy with the dream of building a truly authentic Neapolitan Pizzeria in the heart of the city – in my opinion, a success.
Follow your nose until you find the best cinnamon scent that will put you in the Christmas spirit even when it’s 40 degrees in summer. Buns from Home is a small bakery that creates cinnamon masterpieces you can break your diet for. Not only do they impress with their taste, but also with a cute pink shop – super instagrammable.
A London travel guide without a pub recommendation? That would be strange. After walking around and eating all day, it’s nice to settle down for a drink at Cock & Bottle, one of the most charming and beautifully restored traditional pubs in West London. Every Tuesday they hold a pub quiz where you can win great prizes.
You can download a map with all these (and even more!) recommendations here
Tips for Moving to London
Where to live
If you have the chance, explore different parts of the city before deciding where to live – they definitely represent London’s diversity and each has its own atmosphere. Once you have decided on a district, you need to consider whether you want to live alone or with others. If you are looking for a flat, I recommend the app Rightmove and if you are looking for a flatmate Spareroom is a great platform!
How to get around
There are several ways to get around in London. If you are new to London, I recommend walking as much as possible. As an inexpensive alternative, you can ride the bus. Even after a year, I still enjoy sitting at the front and touring the city. If you travel a lot, definitely check out the Oyster Card, which can save you quite a bit of money on monthly rates.
How to pay
You really need a debit or credit card in London, the city is almost completely cashless. Most international people use either Revolut or Monzo as it is super easy (& free!) to create an account. But beware, just tabbing your card everywhere makes spending money super quick and easy.
Last Tip 🙂
Take advantage of the travel opportunities from London. Brighton is really quick to get to and is a great respite from the city. You can lie on the beach all day and eat fish and chips. But there is not only a lot to see within Great Britain, but also internationally. There is a train to Paris that only takes two hours – still crazy to me.
If you are still reading, thank you! Please leave a comment about your favourite place in London and share your thoughts once you have visited one of the recommended places.
Follow along for the next neighbourhood: CHELSEA!