Lying between Paddington to the east, Little Venice to the north and West London to, well, the west, the Central London district that’s Bayswater is a favourite among visitors to the UK capital. But why? Well, primarily it offers a quartet of terrific top attractions …
Portobello Road Market
(Portobello Road W11)
Famed for its featuring in movies, TV shows and literature, Portobello Road Market is the mile-long stretch of stalls that winds up said street through the heart of Notting Hill. But, beyond its popular culture touchstones, what makes it worth visiting? Well, the original antiques market only actually takes place on Saturdays, but the fact other stalls fill the road throughout the week vending everything from fresh food produce to cutting-edge fashion and jewellery and trinkets to bric-a-brac ensures it’s not just one of London’s largest, but also one of its most essential and authentic markets you might care to visit.
Beyond the oh-so famous market, Notting Hill in general (just due west of Bayswater) is worth a visit too; don’t doubt it. Although a run-down area in previous decades, it’s built up an enviable reputation as an affluent, fashionable and dynamically urban district of Central London, populated not just by an ethnically diverse population but also by the attractive terraces of large Victorian townhouses (many of which are made up of flats and apartments), fine fashion and art boutiques and excellent restaurants (many of the latter to be found in the Westbourne Grove and Clarendon Cross area).
All that said, side from its market and the 1999 blockbuster rom-com movie that borrowed its name, Notting Hill’s most famous for the world-class three-day carnival that –colourfully, noisily, aromatically and irresistibly – winds through its streets every August Bank Holiday weekend; an event not to be missed if you’re staying in one of the Bayswater London hotels or hotels near Bayswater at the end of this month.
Established nearly 500 years ago in 1536 by King Henry VIII, the great expanse of green in the very centre of London that’s Hyde Park was formed as a hunting ground by the Tudor monarch from land previously owned by Westminster Abbey. It wasn’t until the 17th Century – long after Henry’s time – that it was opened up for public use and, following major improvements in the following century, it became recognised as the capital’s greatest of all public parks; a 400 hectare-plus place for relaxation, exercise, family time and appreciation of natural beauty, featuring as it does a wonderful array of flora and fauna. Today, Hyde Park isn’t just about having a stroll or a sit down and picnic under a shaded tree (although those things are absolute pleasures to behold here), but also horse-riding, in-line- and roller-skating, impromptu ball games and boating on the glorious water that’s the Serpentine lake. What more could you ask for…?
… Well, you could always ask for Kensington Gardens, of course. A sort of extension of Hyde Park (they’re separated by the Serpentine), it’s an enormously elegant and splendid 260-acre green space that, featuring the charming Round Pond and all its wildfowl, a sunken Dutch Garden and an exquisite Italian Garden, is somewhat more formal but equally as marvellous as its larger neighbouring park. It also, of course, leads to the Royal residence that’s Kensington Palace at its western end and contains the fantastic-for-kids Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground; the late princess having once been an occupant of the palace itself.