An over-rated, over-priced, inexplicably trendy area of London about 4 miles west of Marble Arch.

Due to the antics of Hugh Grant recently, Notting Hill is now even more over-run with tourists and sight-seers than ever before.

Portobello Road market can be interesting, and the Notting Hill Carnival is always good for a laugh.

From the makers of Four Weddings and a Funeral, the commercials cried out. That is correct: producer Duncan Kenworthy, scenario writer Richard Curtis and main actor Hugh Grant are the central trio of Notting Hill, as they were five years before in Four Weddings and a Funeral, a movie that conquered the world and brought in 250 million dollars.

It was during the shooting of this first romantic comedy that Richard Curtis came up with the idea of a sequel. Well, not exactly a sequel, but something quite similar. Curtis explained that his idea began with a dream. Each week he dines with some of his friends and wouldn’t they be surprised if he’d turn up with the most famous, attractive woman in the world, like Madonna or – as was still possible then – princess Diana.

Curtis had worked out the idea after four years, after which the trio signed Julia Roberts instead of Andie MacDowell. The director in this case was the closing piece, but still theatre man Roger Michell was the right choice: the basis of the movie is formed by character building and somewhat stagy scenes.

Measured to its foundations, Notting Hill comes close to perfection. The story is simple. “Can the most famous film star in the world fall for the man in the street?”, is the movie tagline and that’s the best sum-up possible of the whole fairy-tale. A shy but charming bookshop keeper (Grant) meets famous, unreachable actress (Roberts) by accident. He gets her, loses her, gets her, loses her, oh well, you get the picture. Of course it’s not even a spoiler to tell you that they eventually get together, for this is the feel good movie of the century and a happy ending is a must.

Anna: Can I stay for a while?
William: You can stay forever.

In this genre, Notting Hill is a top movie. It is somewhat more easygoing than the now and then frenzied Four Weddings and a Funeral, with more opportunities for dialogue and character building. The humour is great and the acting is marvellous, making the chemistry between the two contagious. Besides Grant’s and Roberts’, the other characters are worth a praise as well. Top of the bill is his roommate Spike (“I knew a girl at school called Pandora. Never got to see her box, though”). Clearly the story is rather unrealistic and after a few Hugh Grant movies, you realise that he can only play one character well. Still, if you like movies like Four Weddings and a Funeral and number three in the series, Bridget Jones's Diary, Notting Hill is absolutely fabulous.

Anna: Rita Hayworth used to say, "They go to bed with Gilda; they wake up with me."
William: Who's Gilda?
Anna: Her most famous part. Men went to bed with the dream; they didn't like it when they would wake up with the reality. Do you feel that way?
William: You are lovelier this morning than you have ever been.

IMDB (7.2 out of 10) lists the following actors:

The movie soundtrack contains romantic ballads, some of them brilliant (Costello’s She for instance, a Charles Aznavour cover). The whole track listing:

  1. No Matter WhatBoyzone
  2. You've Got A WayShania Twain (Notting Hill remix)
  3. I Do (Cherish You)98 Degrees
  4. She – Elvis Costello
  5. Ain't No SunshineBill Withers
  6. How Can You Mend A Broken Heart? - Al Green
  7. Gimme Some Lovin' - Spencer Davis Group
  8. When You Say Nothing At All - Ronan Keating
  9. Ain't No Sunshine - Lighthouse Family
  10. From The Heart - Another Level
  11. Everything About You - Steve Poltz (remix)
  12. Will And Anna - Trevor Jones
  13. Notting Hill - Trevor Jones

I've lived in Notting Hill for more than 10 years.

It's quite hard to believe that what is currently London's most fashionable area was described as "a massive slum, full of multi-occupied houses, crawling with rats and rubbish" only 40 years ago - definitely a no-go area. Such an area would not have warranted a second glance by London's hip and famous, let alone have inspired a film starring a bumbling Englishman and a starry American actress (if they did indeed make such films 40 years ago). The area had always been though of as the bad part of the borough of Kensington and Chelsea, yet in the past 30 or so years it has seen a massive transformation to the status it holds today.

Two centuries ago, the area was little more than wasteland. It was only in 1840 that the area came to become a residential one with the construction of the Ladbroke and Norland{my first school was Norland Place} estates. At that time, Notting Hill was either known as the Potteries (because of the nearby pottery works) or the Piggeries (after the three-to-one ratio of pigs to people). These large houses were carved up into multiple dwellings, and after World War II the area worsened to become slums.

Notting Hill became home to a large number of Afro-Caribbean immigrants, causing some racial tension in the past. Britain's first race riots occurred in August 1958. However, the next year the Notting Hill Carnival emerged as a reply to the riots in an unofficial manner; by 1965 it took to the streets and has grown ever since. Its presence in the last weekend of August sees around one million people joining the party, backing up the claim that it is the world's biggest street festival outside Rio. Although the carnival has seen some trouble in the past, it is a relatively safe event now.

Aside from the carnival weekend, Notting Hill is a rather quiet area for most of the year. The exception is on Saturdays when Portobello Market is jam-packed.

The recent trend that has seen people flocking to buy property in Notting Hill and house prices spiralling started in about 1994. The highest amount paid for a house so far is £4.5 million - but this will surely go even higher. For those interested, the trendiest area to go for is that with a W11 postcode, although W10 and W2 are also pretty good. For a sure sign that Notting Hill is no longer the place it once was - there's a Gap now.
From, edited by me

Now my opinions:
Well, I didn't know that W11 (my postcode) was supposed to be the trendiest in the area, but there are a few multimillion pound houses around the corner from us. I'm not sure why iaian describes it as over-rated, although overpriced is certainly a fact when it comes to houses. The shops on Notting Hill gate are good for basics, but Kensington High Street is near, as is Oxford Street.

I always seem to be away during the carnival, and when I have been at home it's just seemed big and noisy. For a resident of the area it's a big hassle, as you can't use your car for a whole weekend, and the streets are packed with people, sometimes drunk. I've never had any unfortunate experiences at night, so Notting Hill would seem to be quite a safe area. However, I wouldn't reccomend it to tourists, as there really isn't all that much for them apart from the market.

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