Feb 01, 2017
Almost 20 years after the British rom-com was released, fans still flock to that famous door and lively Portobello Road.
It’s the kind of door you’d ordinarily walk past without a second glance: dark blue, flanked by double columns with peeling white paint, next to a nail salon. But 280 Westbourne Park Road may be the most photographed portal in West London. In Notting Hill, it was the door to the home of Hugh Grant’s character, bumbling bookseller William Thacker. And it became a paparazzi magnet thanks to William’s unlikely romance with Hollywood star Anna Scott (Julia Roberts). The unassuming-looking address, formerly owned by the flick’s screenwriter, Richard Curtis, still attracts crowds with cameras.
On this crisp winter morning, I’m rubbing shoulders with selfie-takers from China, Canada and Germany. Everyone seems pretty excited, though thankfully no-one is doing a Spike (William’s flatmate, played by Rhys Ifans, entertained the paparazzi by posing here in his underpants).
This isn’t the original door, however. That was auctioned by Christie’s soon after Notting Hill’s release and replaced by a black one that was eventually repainted blue.
In the heart of the boho-chic Notting Hill district, the house is on the corner of Portobello Road, one of London’s most rewarding streets for ambling, browsing and shopping at quirky boutiques, antiques galleries and eclectic markets set up beneath pastel-coloured Victorian terrace houses.
At 142 Portobello Road, you’ll find the setting of William’s travel bookstore (then an antiques arcade remodelled for filming, it’s now a gift store selling cheap souvenirs). The Travel Bookshop – the real-life inspiration for William’s business – used to be around the corner at 13-15 Blenheim Crescent but it ceased trading in 2011. In its place is The Notting Hill Bookshop, which has a cosy vibe and a fine choice of books, as well as Notting Hill-themed paraphernalia, including cut-out paper masks of Grant and Roberts.
Another local haunt that’s had a makeover is The Coronet Cinema, where a besotted William watched Anna on screen. Now the Print Room, it’s a theatre once again – like it was when it first opened in 1898 – a stone’s throw from Notting Hill Gate tube station. ￼