LONDON – have you ever read a travel article and felt inspired to go and see for yourself what they’re talking about? This just happened to me. A few weeks ago I purchased this book called London Style Guide by Saska Graville. It’s so nicely written and presented. I partly bought it because the photographs made everything she talks about look beautiful. I’m a sucker for packing! (Note: I bought the book at a shop called JOY for £16 but you can get it at amazon.com for £10).
I’ve been using this book as a reference for exploring London and it’s been pretty good, until this weekend when I followed her advice and headed to Notting Hill, an area made famous by Hugh Grant in the film with the same title.
Saska says “Londoners tend to avoid Portobello Market – too full of tourists buying overpriced antiques and trying to find the bookshop run by Hugh Grant in Notting Hill. Little do the visiting crowds realise that they’re missing the area’s real treasure, Golborne Road.”
When I read extracts like this, you’ve got my attention because I love to find London’s hidden gems. But, dear reader, as your London correspondent I can promise you that Golborne Road, is neither ‘hidden’ nor a ‘gem’. It’s at the end of Portobello Road (took me a good hour to get there) and as far as I’m concerned is best described as lacklustre.
I went to all the shops she suggested: Ollie & Bow, Les Couilles du Chien, Rellik, and Bazar Antiques. None of them were noteworthy, with the exception of Phoenix on Golborne which in my opinion sells overpriced antiques (contrary to what she says) and some have been restored in a hasty fashion, but perhaps these fall into the shabby chic category.
Anyway, the point of my rant is that, it’s important to be honest as a travel writer. I don’t know what Saska saw in these shops she suggested. Perhaps it just comes down to personal taste. But if you do have the chance to go to Golborne Road, please skip it. However, if you do end up in this part of London, make a trip to Lisboa Patisserie. The queue outside this shop was long which tells you something. They sell some tasty pastries. I actually bought three!
Ever felt jipped by a travel writer?