Hattie Lloyd 06/01/23
The Best Bars in Notting Hill | Cosy Pubs to Subterranean Agaverias
Picking out the best bars in Notting Hill is really a matter of taste.
Which is unfortunate, because we have none.
But we have nevertheless attempted to collate a list of our personal favourites, from flower-fronted pubs to subterranean tiki dens, in the hopes of pleasing you; our dear, faithful readers. Based on a complex set of factors including ambience, music, lighting, value for money and — of course — whether they fix a good drink, here’s what we consider to be Notting Hill’s best bars:
The Churchill Arms
‘If you’re going through hell, keep going…’
…or head to The Churchill Arms for a pint of real ale and let your problems wash away in one of London’s most famous watering holes, a favourite of Churchill’s grandparents back in the day. What’s more, it was the very first pub in London with a Thai restaurant, and is now garlanded with so many hanging shrubs and flowers that it may well be the prettiest of its kind, too.
Details: 119 Kensington Church Street, W8 7LN
The ultimate modern-day gin palace, The Distillery is a four-story bonanza dedicated to Mother’s Ruin (and a little bit to whisky), with 3 bars and over 200 types of gin, as well as The Ginstitute – where you can learn to blend your own gin if none of those are quite up to scratch.
Details: The Distillery, 186 Portobello Road, W11 1LA
Naked & Famous
Tucked below Portobello Road’s new mediterranean eatery Zephyr is one of the best bars in Notting Hill, Naked and Famous, aka a suave, softly lit retro cavern that puts us in mind of the Emerald City. If it were orange. And filled with muscat sours and cocoa nib daiquiris.
Details: 100 Portobello Road, London W11 2QD
Notting Hill Arts Club
Notting Hill Arts Club has a habit of launching things. Mainly careers (Lily Allen and La Roux can attest to that), but also in the form of your night from mediocre to marvellous. Blank walls are lit up by arty projections, providing the backdrop for live bands, DJs and other music nights with everything from reggae, to house, to punk, to indie, to everything in between. Down cocktails and bottled beers from the circular basement bar, and mingle with trendy creative types.
Details: 21 Notting Hill Gate, W11 3JQ
When it’s bucketing down outside, there’s only one place to take shelter: a recently revamped, plaster-walled, utterly beautiful neighbourhood pub. In Notting Hill this would be The Pelican. There’s a stellar drinks list, with ales served in dimple mugs, some fantastic wines and well-crafted classic cocktails, and if you get peckish they serve some food. It’s not ordinary ‘food’ though, it’s monkfish pie with lobster head gravy or maybe spider crab on toast. Yup… The Pelican is one of the best restaurants in Notting Hill, too.
Details: 45 All Saints Road, London, W11 1HE
The pursuit of happiness can be a long and winding road. Luckily for you, we know a shortcut. And it leads to one of the best bars in Notting Hill, or more specifically, Trailer Happiness, a hidden little tiki den on Portobello Road. The intimate basement lounge bar is wall-to-floor kitsch with dodgy decor and a 60’s playlist that will have your foot tapping, even if you don’t want it to. Expect tiki twists on classic cocktails like their Trailer Colada; mixing rum, coconut tequila, and pineapple roasted in molasses.
Details: 177 Portobello Road, W11 2DY
Buvette is a French restaurant that extends a figurative straw to drinking holes across the channel. Open all day, it’s the epitome of Parisian café culture, tucked away on a quiet side street of Portobello Road. The trio of shandies (beer with picon, lemonade or grenadine) are a good lunchtime refresher, but they also do a strong line in negronis, martinis, old-school classics like the penicillin, and in winter, vin brûlé.
Details: 9 Blenheim Crescent, London W11 2EE
Cha Cha, taking over the ground floor and first floor terrace of the Sister Jane boutique on Golborne Road, is a Latin American-inspired restaurant with several dedicated bar areas. One of them, however, is a little hard to find, being hidden behind a Narnia-esque wardrobe. The fiery Cha Cha Margarita will put a little dance in your step, and if you get peckish you can always dip into that food menu.
Details: 36 Golborne Road, London W10 5PR
The Walmer Castle
Because you can never have too many nice boozers on one list. Especially if that list is specifically about the best bars in Notting Hill. And if that boozer is The Walmer Castle – cousin to the Craigellachie Hotel in the Highlands, stocking over 400 varieties of Scotch whisky in a hunting lodge snug-style setting.
Details: 58 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, W11 2AJ
The Little Yellow Door
The Little Yellow Door is one of several bars hidden behind unmarked, colour-coded doors around London – there’s also Little Blue Door in Fulham, Little Orange Door in Clapham and Little Scarlett Door in Soho. They’re all run by a set of fictional flatmates, but don’t worry, the board games, DJ-fuelled house parties and flaming cocktails are all very real.
Details: 6-8 All Saints Road, Notting Hill, W11 1HH
It’s easy to get carried away at London’s tequila bars. The drinks are exciting, look great, taste delicious, and… oh yeah, they’re always pretty darn strong. Viajante87 is no different, a swanky new underground bar in Notting Hill that, besides its fondness for agave, is also all about sustainability as all the signature cocktails have been created with a zero-waste approach. See the Mango Zapoteca for instance, that uses mango skins leftover from the kitchen to flavour the cordial base, or the Smoked Earth that partners a sweet, fruity mezcal with lacto-fermented vegetables. If there is one thing getting wasted here, though, we have a funny feeling that it’s probably gonna be you…
Details: Basement, 87 Notting Hill Gate, London, W11 3J
Looking for something a bit more casual than a bar? Check out these cosy Notting Hill pubs
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