The best of west London
The top places to eat, drink, shop and visit
Saturday 06 July 2002
It's no use planning a visit to the latest from Tom Conran (of The Cow pub and Tom's Deli fame). It doesn't take bookings and there are just six six-person booths in his authentic-with-a-twist diner, so expect to wait. It's worth it Ã‘ the classic burgers, chilli, clam chowder and pancakes are all terrific and if the portions aren't quite like they are in New York, well, at least your waistline will thank you. Wash it all down with root beer or "cwoffee". Perfect for Sunday brunch.
Where: 127 Westbourne Park Road, Notting Hill, W2 (020 7727 6771), Westbourne Park tube.
When: Mon-Sat, 7am-11pm; Sun, 9am-10.30pm.
How much: Main courses from £3.95.
If the sign of a good Chinese restaurant is the number of Chinese diners, the queue here speaks volumes. On the weekend, the dim sum draws crowds, so arrive early with a book, but it's worth a wait to sample melt-in-the-mouth pork pastries, slippery prawn dumplings and crisp spring rolls. The kitsch smoked-glass and lacquer interior and bustling waitresses are all part of the fun.
Where: 13 Queensway, Bayswater, W2 (020 7221 2535), Bayswater or Queensway tube.
When: Mon-Thur, 12noon-11pm; Fri-Sat, 12noon-11.30pm; Sun, 11am-10pm.
How much: Main courses from £6.
This neighbourhood French restaurant scores on every count. The service feels assured and the beige interior attractive, but not so distracting that it takes your attention away from the food. Crispy pigs' ears with sweetbreads is better than it might sound; loin of venison is served with celeriac gratin and ceps. The wine list is exceptional, the selection picked by owner Nigel Platts-Martin (of The Square, Chez Bruce, Glasshouse) who is a wine enthusiast. It's exceptional value too.
Where: 5-7 Devonshire Road, W4(020 8747 1836), Turnham Green tube.
When: Mon-Sat, 12noon-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10.45pm; Sun, 12.30pm-3pm, 7pm-9.30pm.
How much: Set lunch (Mon-Sat), £19.50 three courses; set dinner £30 three courses; set Sunday lunch, £23.50 for three courses.
The western outpost of Vatcharin Bhumichitr's small chain of restaurants is possibly his best. The food is consistently good, and it's considerably more imaginative than the usual Thai dishes. Expect to find proper ingredients used, too, from sour little pea aubergines to galangal.
Where: 99 Chiswick High Road, W4 (020 8995 5774), Turnham Green tube.
When: Mon, Wed, Fri-Sun, 12noon-3pm, 6pm-11pm. Tues, Thur, 6pm-11pm.How much: Main courses, £4.95-£6.95.
Tucked away behind a high wall, round the back of Hammersmith Apollo, The Gate is a quiet delight. It's a vegetarian restaurant and the range and quality prove that meat-eaters don't have the monopoly on top-range dishes. The menu changes according to what's fresh, but expect ideas like saffron ravioli or root vegetable tagine. Save space for the rib-sticking puds.
Where: 51 Queen Charlotte Street, Hammersmith, W6 (020 8748 6932), Hammersmith tube.
When: Mon-Fri, 12noon-3pm, 6pm-11pm; Sat, 6pm-11pm.
How much: Main courses from £7.25.
Visitors to the Brackenbury village (otherwise known as outer Shepherds Bush), have quickly fallen in love with this eatery, from the same people behind the yummy Moro in Clerkenwell. Fondue's the thing here, which might be kitsch, but is tasty and somewhat more refined than those school ski-trip memories might suggest!
Where: 111 Hammersmith Grove, London, W6 (020 8846 3850), Goldhawk Road/Hammersmith tube.
When: Mon-Fri, 12.30pm-3pm, 7pm-10pm; Sat, 7pm-10pm; Sun, 12.30pm-3pm.
How much: Main courses, £12-£14. Set lunch, £15.50 for two courses, £18 for three courses.
Kensington Roof Gardens
One of the best views over London, and still going strong after decades of different owners. The roof gardens is now home to the Babylon restaurant and a private member's nightclub, although you can book the entire space for a party. Amazingly, there's one and a half acres up there, from Tudor to Spanish to Woodland gardens, complete with flamingos (not the same ones that were resident in the Seventies, we assume). Get far from the madding crowd by rising above itÃ‰ Well worth the price of lunch or supper.
Where: 99 Kensington High Street (entrance on Derry St), W8 (020 7937 7994) www.roofgardens.com High Street Kensington tube; Babylon restaurant, The Roof Gardens, 020 7368 3993; nightclub, 020 7368 3999.
When: Babylon, Mon-Fri, 12noon-3pm, 7pm-11.15pm; Sun, 12noon-4pm.
How much: Babylon, main courses, £10.75-£19.50; set Sunday lunch, £18.50 for three courses.
Chef Vineet Bhatia hit the headlines last year when Zaika was one of only two Indian restaurants Ã‘ ever Ã‘ to be awarded a Michelin star (the other was Tamarind). Since then, Zaika has relocated to better premises (a former bank facing Kensington Gardens), and managed to hang on to its star. This is not traditional Indian cookery, though. Bhatia has mutated Indian flavours and techniques into something else, a kind of Indo-European fusion which purists don't always like Ã‘ but most other customers do. Samosas, for example, appear as chocolate-filled desserts and as goat's cheese-filled starters; sea bass might be served with upma, a variant of cracked wheat, and a turmeric and lentil sauce.
Where: 1 Kensington Church Street, W8 (020 7795 6533) www.zaika-restaurant.co.uk High Street Kensington tube.
When: Mon-Fri, 12noon-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10.45pm; Sat, 6.30pm-10.45pm; Sun, 12noon-2.45pm, 6.30pm-10pm.
How much: Main courses, £9.95-£21.50.
Who would have thought it? An austere-looking little opening on an unlovely bit of dusty Harrow Road is where the fashionistas and foodies are queuing up for their weekend suppers. But when this particular fast-fried-food joint does lobster and superb chips, that explains everything. This is deluxe snacking and well worth a trip. Daytime, the next door wet-fish shop sells the uncooked variety.
Where: 2-4 Fernhead Road, W9(020 8960 3434), Westbourne Park tube.
When: Tues-Sat, 12.30pm-10.30pm, Sun-Mon, 5pm-10pm.
How much: Various meals, including cod and chips, £6.60, haddock and chips, £6.75 and lobster, £17.75.
The Green Olive
One of the older members of the fast-growing Red Pepper Group restaurants, this sticks to the traditional Italian formula: pastas, soups and risottos can be followed by meat or fish dishes, such as lamb cutlet stuffed with mushroom or roast fillet of monkfish. Service is (mostly) on the ball, and the fixed-price menus are great value. No wonder it's always busy.
Where: 5 Warwick Place, W9 (020 7289 2469), Warwick Avenue tube.
When: Mon-Sat, 12noon-3pm, 6.30pm-11pm; Sun 12.30pm-3.30pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm.
How much: Set lunch, £11 for two courses, £14.50 for three courses; dinner, £21.50 for two courses.
Otto Dining Room and Lounge
Heavily featured as Hugh Grant's hang-out in About a Boy, this funky restaurant and bar is a world-class hang-out that Maida Vale and nearby neighbours have taken to heart. Sip a Peach Debonair, order up a superior steak sandwich and feel like a star.
Where: 215 Sutherland Avenue, W9 (020 7266 3131), Maida Vale tube.
When: Restaurant, Mon-Sat, 7pm-12midnight; bar, Mon-Sat, 6pm-11pm.
How much: Main courses, £13.50-£16.50.
One of the most fashionable restaurants to open at the end of last year, E&O Ã‘ "Eastern and Oriental", like the hotel in Penang Ã‘sets out to collate some of the best dishes of the East in one place. It's a good-looking place with dark wood panelling and vinyl seats, filled with equally good-looking people, but the kitchen can't always live up to expectations. The sushi is only slightly better than supermarket sushi, and the Thai dishes don't extend to anything more interesting than green chicken curry. Chinese-inspired dishes such as roast duck or char sui pork seem to be better choices. Still, it's not really the food that Notting Hill's fashionable set are coming here for.
Where: 14 Blenheim Crescent, W11 (020 7229 5454), Notting Hill Gate tube.
When: Mon-Sun, 12noon-3pm, 6pm-11pm.
How much: Around £35 per head.
Just opened, Notting Grill is basically Antony Worrall Thompson's take on a steak house. There's not much more to it than beef, pork, and a few fish dishes: vegetables have to be ordered as extras, though meat dishes come with chips. The desserts are simple, the wine list pared-down, too.
Where: 123A Clarendon Road, W11 (020 7229 1500), Ladbroke Grove tube.
When: Mon-Thur, 6.30pm-10.30pm; Fri, 6.30pm-11.30pm; Sat, 12noon-4pm, 6.30pm-11.30pm; Sun, 12noon-4pm.
How much: Main courses £10.50-£22.50.
Kebabs deluxe are the speciality at this hugely popular spot that's perfect for a group night out (just make sure you book). Flat breads warm from the oven accompany juicy chicken or lean lamb dishes with fluffy white rice. Alounak is unlicensed, but you can bring your own drinks, which makes a good value restaurant even better.
Where: 10 Russell Gardens, Olympia, W14 (020 7603 7645), Shepherd's Bush tube.
When: Daily, 12noon-12midnight.
How much: Main courses from £5.60.
The Anglesea Arms
One of the earlier exponents of the bare wood and chalked-up menu gastropubs, but still going strong. This is bustling, a bit noisy and massively oversubscribed most nights, but it's worth persevering to get top-notch food and an excellent choice of wine. Of course, you can always just sip a pint of Hoegaarden beer and watch the crowd...
Where: 35 Wingate Road, W6 (020 8749 1291), Ravenscourt Park/Goldhawk Road tube.
When: Food served; Mon-Fri 12.30pm-2.45pm, 7.30pm-10.45pm; Sun 1pm-3.30pm, 7.30pm-10.15pm.
How much: Main courses around £10.
Perhaps the ideal place to go after trawling the market stalls of Portobello, this bar serves up yummy north African food and all the usual trendy drinks in a laid-back (literally) interior. The bars along this west London trend barometer street seem to change every season, but the Bed Bar is becoming a neighbourhood classic. Get there early to book your bed!
Where: 310 Portobello Road, W10, 020 8969 4500, Ladbrooke Grove tube.
When: Mon, 5pm-11pm; Tues-Sun, 12noon-11pm.
How much: Main courses, £5.50-£11. Seafood platter for two, £13.
Grand Union pub
Owner Charlie McVeigh is a young blade of London eating and drinking life. This is his latest, a no-messing-about boozer that serves Guinness just right, a superior take on pub grub, and for the summer has tables by the canal. But don't expect to get away with wearing sloppy joe clothes, this is one of west London's coolest destinations right now, so dress up to fit in, especially if you want to drift next door to McVeigh's cool club, Woody's, later...
Where: 45 Woodfield Road, W10 (020 7286 1886), Westbourne Park tube.
When: Food served; Mon-Sat, 12noon-3pm, 7pm-10pm; Sun, 12noon-4pm, 7pm-10pm.
How much: Main courses, £7-£12.
This pub would put many posh restaurants to shame with its excellent food, and bread that's baked fresh on the premises every day. A favourite with local foodies, the Havelock has classic, comfortable gastropub looks, and a confident eclectic menu that changes daily but might include gruyere, onion and thyme fritters with celery, apple and watercress salad to start; chicken leg stuffed with wild mushrooms, ricotta and sage, with mashed potato and spinach as a main course.
Where: 57 Masbro Road, W14 (020 7603 5374), Hammersmith or Shepherd's Bush tube.
When: Open for food, Mon-Sat, 12.30pm-2.30pm, 7pm-10pm; Sun, 12.30pm-3pm, 7pm-9.30pm.
How much: Main courses from £6.50.
Friday Night In-Line Skating Get-togethers
Every Friday night at 7pm, the groovy skaters get together at Duke of Wellington Arch in Hyde Park and zoom around the centre of London. What a way to meet fit, healthy potential dates. Just don't fall over or wear too-tight lycra and hey, be careful out there.
Where: Duke of Wellington Arch, Hyde Park, see website, www.citiskate.com for further details, Hyde Park Corner tube.
When: Fridays, 7pm.
How much: Free.
Hyde Park Riding Stables
This is where the top-notch tack gets used: Sunday mornings is a good time for urban cowboys and girls to either watch theprofessionals or get a few riding lessons in themselves.
Where: 63 Bathhurst Mews, W2 (020 7723 2813) www.hydeparkstables.com Lancaster Gate tube.
When: Mon-Thur, 7.15am-7pm; Fri, 7.15am-4.30pm; Sat-Sun, 8.30am-4pm.
How much: Mon-Fri, day, £35 per hour, evening £39 per hour; Sat-Sun, day, £35 per hour.
Acton Park Royal Warner Village Cinema
This area is where it's at if you just want to chill out. Grab a pizza, a bucket of popcorn and enjoy one of the most comfortable cinema seats in London. The arrival at Acton multiplex may be a bit unglamorous, just off the start of the Western Avenue, but who cares when the latest rom-com is sweeping you off your feet?
Where: Western Avenue, W3 (info line: 0870 240 6020) www.warnervillage.co.uk Park Royal tube.
When: Phone for details of individual performances.
How much: Adults, Mon-Fri until 5pm, £4.90; Mon-Fri after 5pm, £6; children £4.20.
Notting Hill Carnival
It's only one weekend a year, but what a weekend. The locals move out or get stuck into endless booming music, road-blocking floats and the wafting smell of curry and rice through the streets. The best advice is to be prepared (no valuables, comfy shoes, an open mind) and dance your way around the streets. The steel band rehearsal on Saturday night on Kensal Road, before the main event, is the insider's tip for the best entertainment.
Where: Notting Hill, W10, and around, see local press for details.
When: August bank holiday, see local press for details.
So far off-West End it's funny, but this tiny venue shows cutting-edge, always-entertaining theatre that changes regularly (telephone for details). The critics take time to visit, and so should you if you're anywhere nearby. If you go on a Monday, you can pay just what you can afford, which makes this a real local treasure.
Where: 11 Pembridge Road (above Prince Albert pub), W11, Notting Hill Gate tube.
When: Phone box office, 020 7229 0706, for details.
How much: £12 (conc £6) - phone box office for details - except Mondays when you pay what you can afford.
Notting Hill Arts Club
For an area that's famous worldwide, it's strange that there is so little of note on Notting Hill Gate itself. It's mostly anonymous shops and lost tourists. However this tiny club, tucked away towards Bayswater, is worth getting into a taxi for. It practically invented Sunday night chill-out clubbing for a slighter older crowd, and it's where Ben Watt (Everything but the Girl) showed off excellent DJ skills. It has a designer-groovy interior and is, rightly, a roadblock, so call for details and arrive early.
Where: 21 Notting Hill Gate, W11 (020 7460 4459), Notting Hill Gate tube.
When: Mon-Wed, 6pm-1am; Thur-Sat, 6pm-2am; Sun, 4pm-12.30am.
How much: Mon-Thur, before 8pm, free; after 8pm, £5. Fri-Sat, before 8pm, free; after 8pm, £6. Sun, before 6pm, free, after 6pm, £5.
Queen's Park Rangers Football Club
Cast aside your prejudices ("I hate football", "I only support Arsenal") Ã‘ this might be a little leaguer but the QPR venue has a lot to offer. Juniors will love the tour of the grounds, and the Ladies team is properly respected. A club to get involved with.
Where: Loftus Road Stadium, South Africa Road, W12 (box office, 020 8740 2575) www.qpr.co.uk White City tube.
When: Phone/go to website for details.
How much: Phone/go to website for details.
Shepherds Bush Empire
For live music, this is west London's best venue (Hammersmith Apollo is second-best). It's part of the Brixon/Birmingham etc Academy family, so has pulling power for booking class acts. All of the up-and-coming groovy bands play here, and if you use theexcellent website (complete with chill-out soundtrack playing), you can book ahead and get the inside info.
Where: Shepherds Bush Green, W12 (info and box office: 020 7771 2000) www.shepherds-bush-empire.co.uk Hammersmith tube.
When: Phone/go to website for details.
How much: Phone/go to website for details.
Well-known for its staggering variety of exhibitions, the Olympia complex is also one of London's most interesting architectural sites. So stay up to date with what's going on at the venue, from baffling sounding trade shows, to the biggies like The Great British Beer Festival (August) and Vive La France (January) and while you're there- look around the building.
Where: Hammersmith Road, W14 (020 7385 1200) www.eco.co.uk Kensington (Olympia) tube.
When: Phone/go to website for details.
How much: Phone/go to website for details.
A contemporary, rather racy art gallery in a stunning historical setting. The PM might not get the headlines that other art venues do, but it's certainly the one to visit for an all-round experience. It's in a beautifully restored Regency villa, in Ealing's Walpole Park.In fact, smart Londoners looking for a chic party or wedding venue should step right up.
Where: Pitshanger Manor, Walpole Park, Mattock Lane, Ealing, W5 (020 8567 1227), South Ealing tube or Ealing Broadway tube/rail.
When: Tues-Sat, 10am-5pm.
How much: Free.
Yes, it's a bridge, but what a London classic. Anyone who lives south of it may grumble that narrow and fragile Hammersmith Bridge is a bind, but for visitors it's a lovely place to stop and watch the river traffic go by and admire the structure.
Where: Hammersmith Bridge, W6, Hammersmith tube.
World theatre gets a fantastic showcase at this rightly respected arts centre. It has a brilliant location right on the river, a smart café, and an unrivalled array of theatre productions, independent movies, comedy acts and more. Somewhere for west London residents to be proud of.
Where: Crisp Road, Hammersmith, W6 (020 8237 1000) www.riversidestudios.co.uk Hammersmith tube.
When: Daily, 12noon-9pm.
How much: Phone/go to website for details.
Holland Park/Commonwealth Institute
The park is rightly one of London's landmarks. A gorgeous mix of highly mannered formal planting, a soothing Japanese garden, some wild, woody edges and a fun little café. Smart west Londoners eat at the Belvedere (in the park, while courting couples take a picnic and frisbee on to the huge lawn. If all that languid pleasure makes you feel guilty, check out events in the bustling Institute at the Kensington High Street entrance (020 7603 4535) or book tickets for the renowned Holland Park theatre (020 7602 7856).
Where: Holland Park Avenue, Kensington, W8 (020 7471 9811), Holland Park tube. For Commonwealth Institute/Holland Park theatre, go to High Street Kensington tube. Belvedere restaurant, off Abbotsbury Road, Holland Park (020 7602 1238), Holland Park tube.
When: Park, daily, 7.30am-dusk; Commonwealth Institute, Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm. Holland Park theatre; summer open-air opera, Tues-Sat,from 7.30pm. Belvedere, Mon-Sat, 12noon-2.30pm, 6pm-11pm; Sun, 12noon-3.30pm.
How much: Park, free. Commonwealth Institute, Free. Holland Park theatre, open-air opera tickets, £29. Belvederes; set meals, £14.95 for two courses, £17.95 for three courses; set Sunday lunch, £19.50 for three courses.
Combine a trip to the park (above) and this architectural gem and you'll almost suffer sensory overload. Lord Leighton's studio/home is a bejewelled, dazzling set of rooms with tiles, stained-glass windows and a fab collection of the work of Leighton and his contemporaries. If you're an admirer of the pre-Raphelite style, this is where to come and dream.
Where: 12 Holland Park Road, W14 (020 7602 3316), High Street Kensington tube.
When: Mon, Wed-Sat, 11am-5.30pm.
How much: Free.
Little Venice and the Grand Union Canal
One of those things that Londoners forget to do is take a boat trip along the Grand Union canal. It's worth acting like a tourist for the day to glide from this divine backwater, where you can play at choosing your new London residence from the stunning houses that fringe the canal, through London Zoo and on to Camden.
Where: London Waterbus Company 020 7482 2660 (for private hire/groups, phone 020 7482 2550), West Yard, Camden Lock or Warwick Crescent, Little Venice, Maida Vale, W9.
When: Daily, on the hour, 10am-5pm.
How much: One-way trip, adults, £4.50 per person, children, £2.90 per person; return, adults, £5.80 per person, children, £3.80 per person. Trip through London Zoo, adults, £11.90, children, £8.50.
Kensal Green Cemetery
A place of quiet contemplation for some, a fascinating glimpse of Londoners past for others. The cemetery is a charming, offbeat place to take a weekend stroll past incredible Victorian angels and admire the slightly crumbling grandeur. There are some famous names to spot, but above all, this is a historic landmark. There are guided tours every Sunday at 2pm.
Where: Harrow Road, W10 www.kensalgreen.co.uk Kensal Green tube.
When: Guided tours, Sun, 2pm.
How much: Tours, £5 per person.
OK, this might seem like an unorthodox entry for a guide, but smart decor-fans look to stores like this DIY and boating supplies one to find unusual fittings for door handles and other home trims. Don't expect service like you might find on Bond Street - this is utility shopping, but terrific fun for a rummage.
Where: 328 Uxbridge Road, W3(020 8993 0454), Acton/Ealing Common tube.
When: Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm; Sat, 9am-1pm.
The Stone and Ceramic Warehouse
Forget the fakery that they peddle on Changing Rooms, for the real, amazing quality floors that you see in posh homes, this is the place to come. There's a huge range of tiles from limestone to marble to ceramic. Carpet has had its moment, now it's time to re-do the house with cool, chic flooring and this is the place to come.
Where: 51/55 Stirling Road, off Bollo Lane, Chiswick, W3 (020 8993 5545) www.stoneandceramicwarehouse.co.uk Chiswick Park/Acton Town tube or South Acton rail.
When: Mon-Fri, 8.30am-5.30pm; Sat, 10am-4pm.
The most elegant, minimal furniture from the Thirties onwards, reproduced. This gem of a workshop cum store, fascinating in itself for its architecture, is worth a visit even if you aren't looking for a beautiful pale-wood chair or coffee table, but beware, it's difficult to leave empty-handed.
Where: Turnham Green Terrace Mews, W4 (020 8994 0636) www.isokonplus.com Turnham Green tube.
When: Mon-Sat, 11am-5pm.
Mortimer & Bennett
Local foodies have every reason to feel smug about having the family-run M&B in the area. It's the place to find the best and widest choice of cheeses, deli treats and breads from across Europe Ã‘ the only problem is in trying to stop yourself ordering far too much. A real west London institution in a parade of quirky little shops that should be treasured.
Where: 33 Turnham Green Terrace, W4 (020 8995 4145) www.mortimerandbennett.com Turnham Green tube.
When: Mon-Fri, 8.30am-6.30pm; Sat, 8.30am-5.30pm.
J W Beeton
A sweet row of shops has bloomed along the dusty Bush to Hammersmith cut-through. Alongside Oliver Bonas (where funknick-knacks are tempting) is J W Beeton, and the choice of groovy clothes from unusual designers make it worth a visit. Better still, there's more chance of finding the must-have Fake London cashmere here than at the busier Portobello branch.....
Where: 121 Shepherds Bush Road, W6 (020 7602 5757) Hammersmith tube.
When: Mon-Fri, 10.30am-6.30pm; Sat, 10am-6pm.
It's best to ring first to make sure you can get into this off-the-beaten-track vintage clothes store. It's rumoured to be where designers John Galliano and Stella McCartney go for inspiration. The one-off, stunning pieces are top quality, so don't expect charity shop prices, but since vintage is the fashion trend of the moment, it's well worth a look.
Where: 76 Earls Court Road, W8 (020 7937 2903), Earl's Court/South Kensington tube.
When: Tues-Sat, 11.30am-5.30pm.
This trendy, slightly hectic fashion store has matured into a one-stop shop for just-right jeans, from labels like Chloe's diffusion line See, fantastic bags and cute home accessories. You'll find thirtysomething yummy mummies shopping alongside midriff-baring teenagers and they'll all find something new to wear this weekend.
Where: 36-38 Kensington High St, W8 (020 7761 1001), Kensington High Street tube.
When: Mon-Wed, 9am-7pm; Thur, 9am-8pm; Fri-Sat, 9am-7pm; Sun, 12noon-6pm.
Les Couilles du Chien
From the extremely cheeky name to the endless knowledge and banter from the owner, this antique shop is a one-off. Expect to find mid-century and beyond furniture to make your home worthy of World of Interiors or Elle Decoration. The bargains are harder to come by these days, but a gem nonetheless. And of course, the rest of Golborne Road (cheaper and more charming than its Portobello market neighbour) is a Friday and Saturday rummage spectacular.
Where: 65 Golborne Road (020 8968 0099), W10, Ladbroke Grove tube.
When: Mon-Thur, 9.30am-5.30pm; Fri, 8am-6pm; Sat, 9.30am-6pm.
Rightly famous for its fabulous array of vintage clothing and accessories. On a weekend, you'll have to fight your way past Vogue fashion editors and visiting Hollywood stars, all in search of that spectacular frock that will have the paparazzi snapping. For us mere mortals, the ever-changing mix of Forties' day dresses, Sixties' extremities and the elusive vintage Gucci bag are worth popping back for every few weeks.
Where: 8 Golborne Road, W10 (020 8962 0089), Westbourne Park tube.
When: Tues-Sat, 10am-6pm.
This strip, and the main Grove around the corner, has become known as "Westbourne Cross", in other words, the new Brompton Cross, because of the ever-growing number of funky boutiques. Local wags have christened it Nikesbridge, because the weekenders wear combats and trainers to trawl the shops. Whatever. If you're after the latest clothes, accessories, haircut, bagel, flowers, jewellery, set aside a Saturday for this part of town.
Where: Ledbury Road, W11, Westbourne Park tube.
This is the exact opposite of Tower Records and the identikit music store. It's also where DJs and real music afficionados go to buy their vinyl(yes, it still exists here). The staff are knowledgeable and friendly. A warning, you'll spend more than you expected, on music you might not know you wanted. Small, scruffy, but there's also a website if that sounds too tricky.
Where: 130 Talbot Road, W11 (020 7229 8451) www.roughtrade.com Ladbroke Grove/Notting Hill Gate tube.
When: Mon-Sat, 10am-6.30pm;Sun, 1pm-5pm.
This Indian textiles store might look inpenetrable, with bolts of bright fabrics stuffed into every available space, but it's worth persevering for anything from shimmering, embroidered material to make a summer dress from, to floaty sheer textiles that would make amazing light curtains.
Where: 50/52 Goldhawk Road, W12 (020 8740 7349), Goldhawk Road tube.
When: Mon-Sat, 9am-6pm.
This is the real deal - where a real smithy complete with leather apron and scorching metal makes ironwork gates, staircases and, well, whatever you ask, at a price. The forge itself is in nearby W6, where Capricorn Architectural Ironworks make the stuff, so you're unlikely to see it being created, but this North End Parade branch makes an inspiring showroom. If you ever thought wrought iron was naff, have a look around the traditional and modern pieces on offer here, and think again.
Where: Iron Age, 25 North End Parade, North End Road, W14 (020 7381 4235), Baron's Court/West Kensington tube.
When: By appointment only (phone for details).
This is almost too much for one entry, but here goes. The park is just vast, best seen from either a deckchair for lazy types (all human life walks past), or by briskly touring the perimeter, avoiding in-line skaters, horses, cyclists and poseurs. Cool people bring their own party to the park, couples take a boat onto the water (boathouse: 020 7262 1330), art fiends stroll through the Serpentine gallery ( www.serpentinegallery.org 020 7298 1515). Pack a picnic, wear flat shoes, and you can meander from Hyde Park Corner to Notting Hill Gate. Heaven on a sunny day. Tourists check out Speakers Corner (Marble Arch tube) and so should you, it's still great fun to hear the ranting Joe Public.
Where: W2, Hyde Park Corner/Lancaster Gate/Marble Arch/Knightsbridge tube.
When: Park, 5am-12midnight. Boats, daily, 10am-5pm; Serpentine Gallery, daily, 10am-6pm.
How much: Park, free. Boats; adults, £5 per person per hour,children £2 per person per hour; Serpentine, free.
Chiswick House and park
Chiswick Park is one of the loveliest places to while away a few hours on the weekend. From the manicured area around the hothouse to the wilder woody edges, the park is there to be explored. The House (020 8995 0508) is a Palladian villa from 1725, just right for posing against and pretending it's your weekend bolthole. It's also worth refuelling at the sweet Burlington café in the park, and looking inside the main house at the swanky ceiling paintings.
Where: Burlington Lane, W4, Chiswick Park rail/Turnham Green tube then shuttle bus E3.
When: Park, open daily, dawn-dusk; House, Apr to Sep, daily, 10am-6pm; Oct, daily, 10am-5pm; Nov-Mar, Wed-Sun, 10am-4pm.
How much: Park, free. House; adults, £3.30; children, £1.70; conc, £2.50.
If it's a romantic stroll you're after, take your beloved to this park, where a scented garden is one of the attractions. And if you're a romantic parent, you can drop off the nippers at the under-5s club, in the paddling pool or wood adventure playground.
Where: Ravenscourt Road, W6, Ravenscourt Park tube.
When: Daily, 7.30am-dusk.
How much: Park, free.
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