The American contemporary-bohemian label, Free People, is new-ish to the UK shopping scene, after launching online last November and hosting a pop-up store in Selfridge’s this summer. As a fellow expat, I decided to take them up on their request for the best and favorite spots in UK residents’ local neighborhoods.
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For me, my “temporary home” or ‘hood is Notting Hill. It may get a reputation for being terminally trendy or Americanized, but I feel it’s everything I dreamed London would be! Let’s take a stroll down the street from my flat, first to Portobello Road and then to Westbourne Grove. See why I’m inspired by this colorful, Victorian home-lined area full of history, antiques, upscale boutiques and eclectic goods.
Shops that range in style such as The Portobello Arts Club, full of iconic London imagery for filling up the few walls of your flat; Stumper & Fielding, quite possibly the most proper English store around with equestrian style hats, scarves and jackets; Wild at Heart, a flower stall sharing space with a famous “portaloo” on the road’s traffic island, bursting with beautiful stems in a totally odd yet perfect combination.
Eats found only here like Electric Cinema, the oldest movie house in London, and Diner, the best breakfast in town; Granger & Co., upmarket, uplifting comfort food; Taqueria, truly decent Mexican food in an intimate neighborhood setting. (Note that none of the tastes mentioned are British in-theme, but that stays true to the expectation and the restos make up for it with their bounds of atmosphere!)
Drinks old-fashioned at Earl of Lonsdale, a true 19th century pub with surprise garden in the back; Trailer Happiness tiki bar with vintage cocktails and canned beers, humour only the Brits can appreciate; Duke of Wellington, an iconic watering hole that has undergone a modern gastropub facelift, but still brings in the loyal and thirsty.
Walking along these roads, you can’t help but get a sense of wonder from the place. (Even one of the greatest British rom-coms of the genre was filmed here, with a leftover book store to prove it!) It makes me feel privileged to be discovering one of the coolest cities in the world, and living in one of the most brilliant neighborhoods there.