One of the top things-to-do on my London travel list was to go antique shopping! Where else to go than to the biggest antique market in London – Portobello Market.
Portobello Road is located in Notting Hill, west London which is in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It got its name from Porto Bello Farm which was built in the area we now know as Golborne Road named after the town of Porto Bello in Panama, captured by the British from the Spanish in 1739.
Back then, Portobello Market was like many other London markets that mainly sold food and other essential items. In the 1940s, more and more ‘rag and bone’ men started selling wares. They were soon joined by other traders specialising in brick-a-back and antiques. Over time, five distinct sections of the market have formed.
Second-hand Goods – Golborne Road to Westway
Clothing & Fashion – Westway
Household Essentials – Westway to Talbot Road
Fruit, Vegetables and Food Source – Talbot Road to Elgin Crescent
Antiques – Elgin Crescent to Chepstow Villas
As it is one of the affluent areas in London, Portobello Market evolved to sell vintage and higher-priced goods as well.
Things to Buy in Portobello Market
There’s dinnerware everywhere from silverware, teacups and pots, jugs, sugar bowls and trays. You can even find them in a full set! I found a pair of Wedgewood salt & pepper shakers along with an ashtray for a steal!
If you’re a sucker for authentic vintage jewellery, you’re going to love shopping here. There are rows of them selling rings, gemstones, pearls, brooches, you name it. What I notice is that in this part of the world, the value of jewellery depends on its age more than the weight of the gold. I finally found a vintage locket here and my mother got herself a pearl encrusted ring both from the 1600s. I also got myself a brooch from the 60s.
Clothes & Accessories
There were rows of shops selling vintage coats and boots as we were there during Winter but I didn’t get any as I don’t think they could fit into my luggage and it wouldn’t be much use for me back home in sunny Singapore. But I did get an absolutely beautiful calf-skin handbag from the 1920s that is still in almost perfect condition!
Posters & Prints
One thing I noticed in London is that you can find shops selling prints, posters and maps in all the markets we went. Portobello is no exception however, the ones here are vintage and will cost you more. You can find old movie posters, old magazine cover prints and old charts too.
If you’re a collector of, well, almost anything, you can find it here in Portobello. From vinyl, vintage cameras, doll houses and even vintage gas masks!
Flowers, Fruits & Bread
Remember that this is a market so of course they do sell fresh flowers, fruits and bread. If you walk further down the street, you can find lots of street food that you can eat while shopping from Falafel, Kebabs, Paella, Pies, Churros and many more!
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Where to Shop in Portobello Market
Although almost every shop is worthy to stop-by to browse, there are some notably famous stores in Portobello that travellers make the trip to visit for photo ops or purchase from. They tend to get very crowded though.
Alice’s, 86 Portobello Road, London W11 2QD, United Kingdom.
0900 – 1700 (Mon – Fri)
0800 – 1600 (Sat)
Admiral Vernon Antique Market
Admiral Vernon Antique Market, 141-149 Portobello Road, London W11 2DY, United Kingdom.
0900 – 1700 (Tue – Thurs)
0830 – 1800 (Fri)
0500 – 1800 (Sat)
1130 – 1730 (Sun)
The Portobello Print & Map Shop
The Portobello Print & Map Shop, 109 Portobello Road, London W11 2QB, United Kingdom.
1100 – 1600 (Sun – Fri)
0900 – 1700 (Sat)
The Notting Hill Book Shop
The Notting Hill Book Shop, 13 Blenheim Crescent, London W11 2EE, United Kingdom.
0900 – 1900 (Daily)
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Things to Note
- Visit on Fridays or Saturdays as most of the best sellers open on these days.
- Arrive early, best time is when they’re setting up from 8am to avoid the insane crowd (it’s crowded everywhere around London but more so at shopping areas).
- Be open minded while shopping as most of the best buys are antiques, vintage and second hand clothes, bags and home decor. There are new/modern items, fruits & vegetables and more food further down the road.
- There are cafes sprinkled around but they are all full by the time you finish shopping so best to pack a sandwich and a bottle of water or head further down the road for a wide selection of takeaway food.
- Although most stores don’t mind you taking photos of their products, there are some shops that may not welcome it. Do be mindful to respect the space and privacy of other shoppers, best to put away your cameras inside stores.
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