London Staycations: New York Habitat Notting Hill
Staycations to me are a way to explore the city to the fullest. London knows so many different faces, and my goal is to get to know them better during the time I’m spending here. Being able not only to visit, but to spend a night in another part of town enables me to do this. It makes me appreciate this incredible city more and more, each time I’m on one of my staycations.
New York Habitat
A few weeks ago I was kindly invited by New York Habitat to stay at their self-catered apartment in Notting Hill. New York Habitat specialises in furnished vacation, corporate and rental apartments in New York City, Paris, the South of France and London.
What makes furnished apartments different is that it provides you with a sense of freedom and flexibility that you won’t have when staying in hotels or bed & breakfasts. During my stay in the two-bedroom apartment in Notting Hill I had all the appliances and housewares to my disposal to make my own breakfast, lunch and dinner would I wanted to. No set meal times like in a hotel or only specific options of dishes to choose from. I could also go out or stay in as a pleased. These kind of aspects are important to me especially when staying at a place for a longer period of time. And that is exactly what New York Habitat caters for.
New York Habitat – Notting Hill aparment
‘This is how it must feel when you’re rich and living in London,’ was my first thought when I entered the blossom-filled road just off Kensington Church street on the evening of my arrival. This is where the affluent people live, on one of the most expensive streets of London. And that night I was staying in one of its apartments – allowing me to have a taste of a certain lifestyle I could only dream of.
The apartment itself was rather spacious, with two bedrooms, a living room, cozy kitchen and bathroom. The apartment was of course furnished, and came with linen and towels (I actually brought my own just in case!). I was let in by the landlord who explained me some things about the apartment, the area and New York Habitat. He handed me the key, and from that point onward the flat was really ‘mine’ (let’s pretend it really was, shall we?).
The flat was cleaned relatively well, although when moving my finger over one of the window sills some fluff was still there. I also got the feeling that that was the case for some cabinets and other window sills as well. However, this was not something I was particularly stressed about.
Once I’d done my grocery shopping in the Sainsbury’s on Kensington Church Street, I prepared a meal and settled on the comfortable couch to watch a movie (Dutch movie Soof2, if you were wondering). The WIFI connection was excellent, and I simply lacked the energy to go out that night, so decided to stay in and to explore the area the next day.
The bed slept extremely well, and I was filled with joy when I noticed the next morning that the bedroom window actually looked out over the roof of Kensington Palace. So close I was to the Royal Family! Of course I needed to make a little visit. So after I dropped the keys through the mailbox, I made my way to Kensington Gardens – the park adjacent to Hyde Park. I was surprised at how many tourists were already out and about, as it was not even 9:00AM yet. But there they were, admiring Kensington Palace and its beautiful gardens just like I did.
Notting Hill Farmer’s Market
For a bit of a healthy touch I made my way to the Notting Hill Farmer’s Market, located on the car park of Waterstones every Saturday. Here is where I bought some fruit and a coffee to start the day. The weather was beautiful and I spotted some Notting Hill residents walking around jacket-less.
Portobello Road Market
After that morning coffee, it was time for me to visit one of London’s most famous markets. I chose a different route from what I normally would walk, and passed by the brightly coloured houses of quiet Hillgate Place. Who says you have to go to Portobello Road for this feast of colour?
It was around 10:00AM at this point and the market on Portobello Road really started to pick up business. Salesmen were unloading their goods and putting it up in the market stalls. Some vintage shops had opened its doors by now and eager vintage-lovers were making their way through – looking for their next unique purchase.
I moved through the street quickly, not as fond of the morning crowds. I turned left on Elgin Crescent and right again on Kensington Park Road. This is where I found Biscuiteers – the praised boutique and icing cafe. Each Instagrammer’s favourite. Sadly for me it was still closed, so I had to find some breakfast elsewhere.
Luckily it didn’t take long for me to find my breakfast stop. I enjoyed a delicious avocado on toast at ‘Sweet Things.’ Sitting outside at one of their tables I was in the perfect position to observe the tourists gazing into Notting Hill Bookshop. Yes, the one and only from the movie with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. Flocks of visitors stopped and stared, and took pictures, but only a few actually went inside.
I’m sure that if you’ve followed my blog for a little while now, you know that I’m a big fan of bookshops. Of course I couldn’t go home without having made an entrance into this well-known shop. So after I paid for my breakfast, I crossed the street and entered the Notting Hill Bookshop. Once inside I was surprised by how many books were gathered over such a small space. I felt like a kid in a sweetshop and did spend a significant amount of time here. While browsing, I noticed that quite a few American tourists entered and expressed their dissatisfaction over the fact that the interior of the bookshop didn’t look anything like the interior of the bookshop from the movie. I really tried hard not to go over to them to explain that if they would’ve read the blue plaque on the front door of the shop, they would’ve known that only the exterior was used in the movie and not the interior. Of course these people left again disappointed, but I walked out with two beautiful new books for my collection (‘The Kreutzer Sonata and Other Stories’ by Leo Tolstoy and ‘Before the Fall’ by Juliet West).
I made my way home after visiting the Notting Hill Bookshop. However, if you’re staying in Notting Hill at some point, I can highly recommend you visiting Holland Park. I dedicated an article on this beautiful city park, with its peacocks and Japanese Garden some time ago.
Many thanks to New York Habitat for hosting me. The stay was sponsored, but all opinions are still very much my own.