Hidden away in Notting Hill: artworks, tower blocks and secret gardens


There’s much to enjoy in London, of course – and among all of its offerings are many that are both elegant and yet hopelessly indulgent. For instance, stay at the right accommodation during your visit and you can take advantage of a Park Grand afternoon tea – but what about what’s on offer outside your hotel? Well, you might try sampling the ‘hidden’ delights of the oh-so sophisticated Notting Hill area…

Kensington Gardens

Ladbroke Square

(Ladbroke Square W11)

Notting Hill’s famed for its exquisite yet exclusive little gardens, admittance to which is only allowed for nearby residents and their guests. That said, this one’s not so much on the small side; it’s easily the biggest of them, clocking in at three hectares, which makes for a delightful discovery should you be lucky enough to step inside, behind the high hedges and iron railings that obscure it from the outside world, of course. The Ladbroke Estate in the heart of the district is home to 16 of these communal gardens – and, together, they can now claim to have Grade-II Listed status.

Trellick Tower

(Golborne Road W11)

Does a tower block really deserve a place on a list of urban treasures in one of London’s most refined of districts? Well, it does when it’s Trellick Tower; don’t doubt it. Built back in 1972 from the designs of legendary Hungarian architect Erno Goldfinger (yes, his surname does sound familiar; it was borrowed by author Ian Fleming for one of his Bond villains), this concrete high-rise masterpiece looks both unique and genuinely stunning, not least at night when it’s lit up and the full effect of its stark modernism hits home. Unsurprisingly, offering its residents fantastic views of the whole city, the majority of its one-time council-owned flats are now privately owned – and much sought-after.

St Peter’s Church

(59a Portobello Road W11)

Both this particularly striking church and its nearby houses (just a short Tube hop away from a Lancaster Gate hotel) were designed by architect Thomas Allom in a style that imitated that of classical Italianate buildings of the Renaissance. Hence this place of worship – built in 1855 – boasts an unusual yet unforgettable appearance, one that’s all too rarely seen up and down the Britain of today or, indeed, the past. Unsurprisingly Grade-II Listed, the building’s land was originally owned by the exotic Victorian Charles Blake, whom had lived for decades in India’s Bengal region as a rum and sugar manufacturer and indigo planter.

Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising

(2 Colville Mews W11)

Deserving of a place on this list not so much for being a treasure itself, more for the treasures it contains, this venue’s a must-visit for those who’ve any sort of interest in, let alone a fascination with, the universe of visual marketing. Offering a comprehensive window on to this world, it comprises more than 12,000 different items that cover brand campaigns that are long-since-over, still running, all too familiar or lost in the mists of time.

Electric Cinema

(191 Portobello Road W11)

Finally, bringing up the rear on this list in the ‘last but not least’ position not just because its restoration in recent years has returned it to its exquisite, former Edwardian glory, but also because it’s the capital’s oldest still-operating purpose-built flickatorium, the Electric Cinema’s an icon of the Notting Hill area and, nowadays, can offer the most indulgent of cinematic experiences – complete with almost 100 leather armchairs, footstools, a pair of leather sofas and a terrific brasserie. All in all then, it’s perfect for a rainy night-out should you be visiting and staying nearby at the likes of the Grand Park hotel Lancaster Gate.