A pub in Hamsptead - very typical architecture of the area
Hampstead is a district of north central London. The key sights are a wealth of under-stated historical attractions, and the magnificent open spaces of Hampstead Heath. Kenwood House is one of the most accessible of London's great Regency homes, John Keats has a museum devoted to his life and work at his former residence here, and the inspiration for many of John Constable's landscapes is all around you on Hampstead Heath. Combine those with some of the most interesting historical pubs in the whole city, and a vibrant restaurant and cafe scene, and Hampstead really does have much to offer the visitor.
Hampstead Village, with its myriad restaurants, old pubs and cafes is an agreeable place to spend a day or two. The area retains much of its original village character, and Hampstead High St alone houses no less than 18 grade II listed buildings. This is one of the wealthiest sections of the city's inner boroughs, full of stately neighbourhoods and grand historic houses. You will also find some interesting, non-mainstream shopping, several repertory theatres and one of the best arthouse cinemas in London.
The nearby vast, open green spaces of Hampstead Heath are a major attraction for Londoners, but relatively few visitors know much about this wonderful remnant of countryside in the centre of London.
Hampstead is a district of great literary, artistic and thespian traditions, and former residents include Kingsley Amis, William Blake, John Constable, Ian Fleming, William Hogarth, John Keats, Anna Pavlova and Alfred Tennyson. Those traditions continue today, and Hampstead is the home of choice for many actors, musicians, writers and media personalities. The residents of Hampstead are acutely aware of the history of the neighbourhood they live in, and any changes in this area are subject to rigorous discussion, and often protest.
Belsize Park is in many ways a southward extension of Hampstead Village, and is made up of many similarly grand residential streets with the odd gem of a restaurant. This is also home to one of the largest and most famous hospitals in London, the Royal Free.
The western reaches of Highgate in the Dartmouth Park area, are inside the Hampstead district, and include the important tourist attraction of Highgate Cemetery, which houses the grave of Karl Marx amongst other notables.
Primrose Hill is a quiet, stately, residential area in the south of the district bordering Regent's Park. Due to the lack of through roads for traffic, this area seems miles away from the general rush and bustle of London, and forms something of an oasis of calm in what is a very central area.
West Hampstead is less grand, and was traditionally a blue collar housing neighbourhood. Inevitably though, gentrification from about 1990 onwards changed all that, and the area is now a favoured residential area by young professionals. Aside from some budget accommodation, there is little of interest for the visitor here though.
Map of the Hampstead district
The district is served by the following tube stations:
- Hampstead (Northern Line)
- Belsize Park (Northern Line)
- Chalk Farm (Northern Line)
- Golders Green (Northern Line)
- Swiss Cottage (Jubilee Line)
- Finchley Road (Jubilee Line and Metropolitan Line)
- West Hampstead (Jubilee Line)
- Hampstead Heath and Gospel Oak stations are on the London Overground line, and both are convenient stops for Hampstead Heath. Further west in the district, the Overground also stops at Finchley Rd & Frognal and West Hampstead. The area is serviced by tube stations Belsize Park and Hampstead on the Northern Line.
- West Hampstead is also on the main Thameslink Line, allowing easy access from the English Midlands and from Brighton in the south of the country.
- South Hampstead is on the London Euston to Watford main line with trains stopping there about every twenty minutes through the day.
- Finchley Rd is a major bus route through London. Bus numbers 13, 139 and 82 all originate in central London and pass along the length of Finchley Rd, allowing easy access to Swiss Cottage and West Hampstead.
- Hampstead and Belsize Park are less well served, with the only direct connection from central London being bus number 46, originating at Farringdon St. However the 24 bus from Victoria via Trafalgar Square serves nearby Hampstead Heath and the nearby Royal Free Hospital.
- Night bus N5 is an excellent and convenient way to get to Hampstead, Belsize Park and Golders Green, after a night out in the West End. Originating in Trafalgar Square, this service makes its way north through King's Cross and Camden Town, before travelling through the district along Chalk Farm Rd, Haverstock Hill, Hampstead High St and North End Way. Runs approximately every 15 minutes from just after midnight until 06:00.
The best advice for any visitors wishing to drive into Hampstead is, don't. This is a largely residential area, and there is virtually no on-street parking available. Residents' only parking spaces are guarded very jealously. With the public transport links being very good, there is little need for any visitor to drive into the district.
If you do insist on driving, there is a public car park on the south eastern edge of Hampstead Heath accessed from East Heath Rd, and this is convenient for visiting the heath. The "easiest" (the term must be used relatively as all routes are congested) routes in from central London are:
- A41 north from Marylebone Rd at Baker St. The A41 becomes Finchley Rd in this district.
- A4200 (Eversholt St) north from Euston Station to Camden High St, and then the A502 which runs through the heart of the district as first Chalk Farm Rd, then Haverstock Hill and then Hampstead High St.
Coming from the north, the A41, A502 and A598 all connect to the district from the A406 North Circular Rd, and thus from the M1 motorway.
Much of the district, particularly in Hampstead Village and Hampstead Heath, lends itself beautifully to walking.
- Bus number 268 is a convenient, regular service that connects Golders Green, Hampstead, Belsize Park, Swiss Cottage and Finchley Rd in both directions. Stops are frequent in key areas such as Heath St, Hampstead High St, Haverstock Hill and Finchley Rd, and are not hard to find.
- Bus number 210 is a useful service for getting to Kenwood House, close to Highgate Cemetery and Waterlow Park, and any other area along the extent of Spaniard's Rd and Hampstead Lane. It runs from Golders Green Station south down North End Rd, turns east along Spaniard's Rd, and then runs the whole length of Hampstead Lane before terminating out of the district at Finsbury Park. The return route is identical in reverse.
Many of the key historical sights are in a cluster within a ten minute walk of Hampstead tube station and therefore easily covered on foot. If you are planning a full day in the area, a morning visit to Hampstead Heath followed by lunch in Hampstead Village, and then an exploration of the historical attractions, makes for a good itinerary.
- 2 Willow Road, 2 Willow Rd, NW3 1TH (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7435 6166 ([email protected]), . Th F noon-17:00. A house designed by Erno Goldfinger in 1939 and regarded as an icon of modernist architecture. The contents are just as impressive as the house and include original works by Henry Moore and Max Ernst. Local lore has it that Hampstead resident of the time Ian Fleming, objected so strongly to Goldfinger's modernist design, that he named his famous Bond villain after him. £2.80-5.30.
- Burgh House and Hampstead Museum, New End Sq, NW3 1LT (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7431 0144, . W-Su noon-17:00. This beautiful grade I listed Georgian building houses the Hampstead Museum which has an interesting collection of exhibits on the history of the local area. Free.
- Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Rd, NW3 6DG (tube: Finchley Rd), ☎ +44 20 7472 5500 ([email protected]), . Tu-Su 10:00-18:00, W 10:00-21:00, closed M and national holidays. A contemporary arts centre with exhibitions focused on exposing new talent. Housed in a lovely Victorian mansion. Free.
- Fenton House, Hampstead Gr, NW3 6SP (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 1494 755563 ([email protected]), . Sa-Su 11:00-17:00. A magnificent old house dating from 1667 which is administered by The National Trust. It is most famous for its globally important collection of early keyboard instruments, and there is also a fine collection of art and porcelain. Plays host to frequent recitals. £5.70.
Karl Marx rests in peace in Highgate Cemetery
- Freud Museum, 20 Maresfield Gdns, NW3 5SX (tube: Finchley Rd or Swiss Cottage), ☎ +44 20 7435 2002 ([email protected]). W-Su noon-19:00. The former home of Sigmund Freud. A wide range of exhibits most famously including the psycho-analytic couch that all of his patients used. Freud was also an avid collector of antiquities and there is a fine collection on show of Greek, Roman and Oriental pieces. £6.
- Hampstead Parish Church (The Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead), Church Row, NW3 6UU (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7794 5808 ([email protected]), . Visiting should be OK in daylight hours, but check ahead if you are making a special trip. This is a rather lovely church building but it is the graveyard which will most interest visitors. Notable personalities buried here include Sir John Constable (artist), Hugh Gaitskell (former Labour Party leader and Chancellor of the Exchequer), Kay Kendall (actress) and several members of the du Maurier family. Tomb trails are available at the church.
- Highgate Cemetery, Swain's Ln, N6 6JP, ☎ +44 20 8340 1834 ([email protected]), . East Cemetery: M-F 10:00-dusk, West Cemetery: only via guided tours 1 Mar-30 Nov M-F 14:00, 1 Nov-28 Feb Sa Su hourly 11:00-15:00, 1 Mar-31 Oct Sa Su hourly 11:00-16:00. Take a guided tour of the overgrown Western Cemetery which gives it a special beauty and charm, or visit the East Cemetery unaccompanied where you will find the grave of Karl Marx. There are known to be at least 850 notable people buried at Highgate. It has been said that Highgate has the finest collection of Victorian funerary architecture in the country. Getting here by public transport is not straightforward. Go to Archway tube station and on leaving turn left and walk up Highgate Hill and past the Whittington Hospital until you get to St Joseph’s Church (obvious by its large green copper dome). Enter Waterlow Park on your left and go downhill across the park (past the duck ponds) to the Swain's Lane exit (below the tennis courts). The walk takes about 20 minutes. Alternatively, take bus 210 from Golder's Green station and tell the driver that you wish to be dropped as close as possible to Highgate Cemetery on Swain's Lane. This is about a 15 min journey East Cemetery £3, West Cemetery tours £3-7.
Or, for a much shorter, easier route, take the 143, 210, 214 or 271 bus to Pond Square, Highgate Village. Cross Pond Square (actually a triangle!) to the top of Swain's Lane, right next to the white building clearly marked "Highate Literary and Scientific Institution, and walk down the hill for about 5 mins.
A Victorian Penfold post box in Hampstead High St. One of the few remaining anywhere, and a grade II listed building
- Keats House, Keats Gr, NW3 2RR (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7332 3868 ([email protected]), . 1 Nov-Easter F-Su 13:00-17:00, Easter-Oct T-Th 10:00-17:00. The great poet John Keats lived here from 1818 to 1820 until he travelled to Rome and died of tuberculosis, aged just 25. The house has been restored as a museum with period decor, furnishings and a collection of Keatsiana. Reopened in July 2009 after restoration. In the grounds you will the Heath Library which has a great collection of local books and periodicals, and provides free internet access. Free.
- Primrose Hill, off Regent's Park Rd, NW1 (tube: Chalk Farm). A large open grassed hill just to the north of Regent's Park. Offers a free panorama of Central London. The views are probably only bettered by those from Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath.
- Waterlow Park, Swain's Ln N6, ☎ +44 20 7974 8810, . A secret jewel of a park. Beautiful landscaped grounds, hills, mature trees, lakes, a walled garden, visitor's centre, café, tennis courts, and children's playgrounds. Bequeathed to the public as a "garden for the gardenless" by Sir Sidney Waterlow in 1889. A visit here combines very well with Highgate Cemetery.
Totalling 320 hectares this is the largest green space in the inner districts of London.
Hampstead Heath, or just the Heath as locals call it, is not a park and has a very different character to the highly manicured Royal Parks in central London. This is a remnant of the great Middlesex Wood, which has somehow survived as commonland as the metropolis grew around it, and in that sense it is very unique. Its proximity to, and ease of access from, densely populated urban areas of London, have ensured that Hampstead Heath has a special place in the hearts of Londoners.
Looking south east from Parliament Hill Fields, Hampstead Heath
The heath has much to offer to the visitor, but is generally not that well known as a tourist attraction. If you are visiting the city and simply want some fresh air and calm natural surroundings, then there is no better choice than jumping on the tube and coming for an early morning walk here. Both Hampstead and Belsize Park tube stations are about 10 minutes walk from the heath. The North London Line rail station Hampstead Heath is right on the south western tip of the heath.
Hampstead Heath is administered by the City of London Corporation, and it is worth visiting their website where there are a number of useful trail maps , along with other visitor information.
There are a great many cultural references to Hampstead Heath, with perhaps some of the more notable being:
- Sir John Constable painted numerous landscapes both from sitting in the upper level of his house at nearby Well Walk, and from on the heath itself. As you take in the splendid vistas over the heath, it is not difficult to see how Constable was so inspired here.
- John Keats composed his great "Ode to a Nightingale" whilst sitting at the Spaniard's Inn and hearing the sound of a nightingale on the heath. The nightingales have sadly gone, but the heath still has a very healthy wild bird population.
- CS Lewis was inspired to write "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" whilst wandering Hampstead Heath on a snowy winter's day.
- In contemporary literature, Hampstead Heath is the setting for the village of Ham in Will Self's superb "The Book of Dave".
- The cult movie, "Scenes of a Sexual Nature", was shot entirely on Hampstead Heath.
Hampstead Heath is a large space, and visitors may find it useful to compartmentalise the different sections.
A tree-lined avenue off East Heath Rd, Hampstead Heath
- The main part of Hampstead Heath is bounded by Spaniards Rd and Hampstead Lane to the north, Highgate Rd to the east, the North London railway line to the south, and East Heath Rd and Spaniards Rd (again) to the east. A line of ponds runs along each side of the heath here: Highgate Ponds on the eastern side, Hampstead Ponds on the western side. The northern part of this section is occupied by Kenwood House, looked after by English Heritage and the only part of the heath not administered by the City of London Corporation. Parliament Hill forms the southern part of this section.
- West Heath is across Spaniards Rd and North End Rd from the main section, and includes Golder's Hill Park, The Pergola and The Hill Garden, as well as large tracts of mature oak, hornbeam and birch woodland.
- Sandy Heath is north-west of Spaniard's Rd and consists mostly of beautiful, mature oak woodland.
- The Hampstead Heath Extension is north of Sandy Heath bordering suburban Golders Green, and consists mostly of sports pitches. Older locals still call this area the "gunsite" as it was exactly that during World War II, and was not cleared until the 1960s.
Specific attractions on Hampstead Heath
- The Bathing Ponds, . 2 May-30 Sep 07:00-18:30, 31 Sep-30 Apr 07:00-noon. There are three notable outdoor bathing ponds on the heath. The Men's Pond and Women's Pond are both part of the line of small lakes on the eastern edge of the heath known as Highgate Ponds, and the Mixed Pond is part of Hampstead Ponds on the opposite side. Swimming hours are seasonal, complicated, age-dependent and change frequently, so it is worth checking before making a special trip. £1-2.
The Pergola, Hampstead Heath
- Golders Hill Park, North End Way, NW3 (tube: Golders Green, then bus 210 or 268 to the entrance), . 07:30 to just before dusk (seasonal). A more formal tended area of the heath at its north western extremity. Has as a small aviary and zoo which kids always enjoy. Free.
- The Hill Garden and Pergola, N End Way, NW3 (tube: Golders Green, then bus 210 or 268 to the entrance of adjacent Golder's Hill Pk), . 07:30 to just before dusk (seasonal). A quite beautiful hidden garden on West Heath, which is little known even to many Londoners. It was originally part of the gardens of 19th century Inverforth House built by Viscount Leverhulme (the then owner of Lever Brothers, now Unilever). The gardens are now common land and part of Hampstead Heath, and the most impressive feature is a restored timber pergola, covered with various climbing plants including roses, honeysuckle, clematis, wisteria and various vines. The pergola offers two stunning views from its north-western point. You can look straight out and over the heath's canopy and see nothing but mature trees. Alternatively, you can look down and see the beautifully manicured herb garden and the length of the pergola stretching out before you. The adjacent Hill Garden offers a complete contrast to the wildness of the pergola. The garden is beautifully manicured and is a favourite haunt for artists. The bench by the ornamental fish pond here gives a stunning view of Hampstead Heath with the towers of urban London as the backdrop. Free.
Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath
- Kenwood House, Hampstead Ln, NW3 (tube: Golders Green, then bus 210 which stops right outside), . House 11:30-16:00 daily, grounds 10:00-17:00 daily. A splendid Regency house with enormous gardens and woodlands. The gardens alone are worth the visit and are a superb example of 18th century landscaping. On show at the house is art by masters such as Rembrandt, Turner, Reynolds and Vermeer, and the gardens have a very notable sculpture by Henry Moore. A regular program of outdoor opera takes place here every summer. Movie buffs will recognise Kenwood from Mansfield Park amongst other famous films. Administered by English Heritage, separately from the rest of Hampstead Heath. Free. A donation of £3 suggested.
- Parliament Hill, (southern side of the Heath between Hampstead and Highgate Ponds). This is a high part of the Heath with clear open vistas, and the views looking south over the city are quite wonderful. Highly recommended on a clear morning, when you can see from Canary Wharf in the east all the way to Battersea Power Station in the west.
Given its reputation as a centre of the arts, it is no surprise that Hampstead is home to three of London's better known repertory theatres and a truly top-class arthouse cinema. Evenings here certainly focus around those performing arts activities. One-off performances (sometimes at unusual venues) are also far from uncommon, so check local listings. A good place to look is the local weekly newspaper, the Hampstead and Highgate Express .
- Everyman Cinema, 5 Hollybush Vale, NW3 6TX (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 870 066 4777, . One of London's most notable art house cinemas which offers a high quality experience. You pay for it, but the environment is very classy indeed. Has a sister cinema just down the hill in Belsize Park - The Everyman Belsize Park. £12 for non members.
- Hampstead Theatre, Eton Ave, NW3 3EU (tube: Swiss Cottage), ☎ +44 20 7722 9301 ([email protected]), . A repertory theatre that is about as far removed from glitzy west end productions as you could imagine. Dedicated to exposing new writing talent. Harold Pinter gained some of his earliest experience here. £15-20.
- London Jewish Cultural Centre (LJCC), Ivy House, 94-96 N End Rd, NW11 7SX (10 min walk from Golders Green tube station), ☎ +44 20 8457 5000 ([email protected]), . Offers the widest range of Jewish learning opportunities (over 75 courses a term) and Jewish cultural events in the UK. Frequent concerts are hosted here and this is the former London home of Anna Pavlova.
- New End Theatre, 27 New End, NW3 1JD (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7472 5800 ([email protected]), . The home of the New End Theatre Company and Pluto Productions. Has a fine reputation for producing high quality dramas away from the commercial spotlight. £16-18.
- Pentameters Theatre, 28 Heath St, NW3 6TE (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7435 3648, . Small, intimate theatre known for edgy, high quality productions. Located above The Horsehoe pub. £10-12.
Hampstead Village has long been known as a home of off-beat, independent shops. Sadly, that is less the case today than previously as spiralling rents have forced many independent retailers out of the area. Some do remain though, and the keen shopper will be rewarded by exploring the small lanes that lead off the main streets here.
Hampstead High St, Heath St, Rosslyn Hill and Haverstock Hill have a number of mid and upper market boutiques including Nicole Farhi, Gap, Karen Millen, Nine West, Kurt Geiger and Molton Brown.
The usual suspects amongst British high street retailers are well represented in the Finchley Rd and Swiss Cottage area.
- Daunt Books, 193 Haverstock Hill, NW3 4QL (tube: Belsize Pk), ☎ +44 20 7794 4006 ([email protected]), . M-Sa 09:00-21:00, Su 11:00-21:00. A wonderful, old-style independent book shop which has a second branch up the hill at 51 South End Rd.
- Farmer's Market, Parliament Hill Fields (between the tennis courts and the school yard at the base of Parliament Hill). Sa 10AM-2PM. A regular farmer's market selling fresh organic produce every Saturday
- Hampstead Antiques Emporium, 12 Heath St, NW3 6TE, ☎ +44 20 7794 3297, . Tu-Sa 10:30-17:00, Su 11:30-17:30. More than 30 antique dealers permanently occupy this small arcade and adjacent courtyard. Several genres represented including furniture, paintings, toys and textiles.
- Keith Fawkes Books, 1–3 Flask Walk, NW3 1HJ (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7435 0614. M-F 10:00-17:30, Su noon-18:00. A rare and antiquarian bookshop with a special focus on the great literary characters who lived in Hampstead. Also carries a huge stock of more run-of-the-mill secondhand titles. An absolute must for booklovers.
Hampstead Village and Belsize Park are well known for a wide selection of quality restaurants and cafes. The local resident population here is notably demanding, so any places that make it long term will be serving good food and providing good service. The daytime sees a cafe culture perhaps as strong as anywhere in London, and in the evening, restaurants attract visitors fom all over London, as well as neighbourhood locals.
Elsewhere in the district, Primrose Hill has its own eating sub-culture centre around some chic outlets on Gloucester Avenue, and London's oldest vegetarian restaurant nearby. The West Hampstead and Swiss Cottage area has some good local restaurants.
- Bangkok Thai Cafe, 17 New College Pde, NW3 5EP (tube: Swiss Cottage), ☎ +44 20 7722 9605. 18:00-22:00 daily. Exactly what the label says — a Thai cafe. Lightbites and fully fledged dinner courses. Mains £6-8.
- La Creperie de Hampstead, 77 Hampstead High St, NW3 1RE (tube: Hampstead), . Noon-22:00 daily. A crepe stall in front of the King William IV pub. A wide variety of tasty sweet and savoury crepes for under a fiver. Queues can get long at the weekends. Been around a long time and passes the longevity test.
- Jin Kichi, 73 Heath St, NW3 6UG (tube: Hampstead, turn right, on the other side of Heath St), ☎ +44 20 7794 6158, . 12:30-23:00 daily. Really good value, no frills sushi restaurant. Set lunch from £8.
- Nautilus, 27-29 Fortune Green Rd, NW6 1DT (tube: West Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7435 2532. M-Sa 11:30-14:30, 17:00-22:00. A very well known fish and chip shop. The great British invention to either take away or eat in. Locals travel a long way to buy here.
- Parliament Hill Café, (off Highgate Rd between the tennis courts/bowling green and the bandstand), ☎ +44 20 7485 6606. 09:00 to between 16:00 and 21:00 depending on the season. The only cafe actually on Hampstead Heath, and a nice place to stop for a drink or quick bite after exploring the heath.
- Weng Wah, 240 Haverstock Hill, NW3 2AE (tube: Belsize Pk), ☎ +44 20 7431 4502 ([email protected]), . Noon-22:00 daily. This Chinese restaurant specialising in dim sum has been operating successfully from this address for more than 20 years. Eat in or order delivery anywhere in the Hampstead area. The lunch menu at £5-8 offers especially good value.
Hampstead High St; home of perhaps the most discreet McDonald's anywhere in the world?
- Caffe Nero, 1 Hampstead High St, NW3 1UN (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7431 5958 ([email protected]), . M-F 07:30-18:30, Sa 07:30-19:00, Su 08:00-19:00. Modern coffee shop just around the corner from Hampstead tube station. Serves decent coffee with cakes and savoury snacks at slightly lower prices than elsewhere in Hampstead Village. Part of a large chain.
- Carluccio's, 32 Rosslyn Hill, NW3 1NH (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7794 2184 ([email protected]), . M-F 08:00-23:00, Sa 09:00-23:00, Su 09:00-22:30. Serves cheap and decent, if not terribly inspired, Italian food. Good value for this area. Also has a deli attached. Part of a large chain. £12-20.
- Fratelli la Bufala, 45a S End Rd, NW3 2QB (tube: Belsize Pk), ☎ +44 20 7435 7814 ([email protected]), . M-F noon-15:00 and 18:00-23:00, Sa Su noon-23:00. Italian bistro with an extensive menu of pizzas and grill items. £15-20.
- Freemason's Arms, 32 Downshire Hill, NW3 1NT (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7433 6811, . Noon-21:00 daily (bars later). A gastro pub offering both homely dishes and some more ambitious options. Good location only one minute walk from Hampstead Heath. Has a large open garden with many tables which is lovely in the summer. £25.
- Giraffe, 46 Rosslyn Hill, NW3 1NH (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 871 3328828 ([email protected]), . M-F 08:00-23:00, Sa 09:00-23:00, Su 09:00-22:30. This is the original Giraffe, which has now gone to to be a very successful chain with 40 odd outlets in southern England. It still has the feel of a small independent restaurant and provides quality organic dishes. It is also child friendly, which might be a downside for a visit the morning after the night before. £20.
- Little Bay Kilburn, 228 Belsize Rd, NW6 4BT (tube: Kilburn High Rd), ☎ +44 20 7372 4699 ([email protected]), . M-Sa noon-midnight, Su noon-23:00. European cuisine. Three-course meal £11.00-16.00.
- Ping Pong, 83-84 Hampstead High St, NW3 1RE (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7433 0930 ([email protected]), . M-F noon-23:00, Sa Su 11:00-23:00. Well established modern Chinese restaurant. Dim sum is especially popular and therefore Sundays tend to get very busy and bookings are recommended. £12-15 dim sum set menus.
- Walnut, 280 West End Ln, NW6 1LJ (tube: West Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7794 7772 ([email protected]), . Tu-Su 18:30-22:30. Cozy, neighbourhood West Hampstead restaurant which serves up modern European fare at affordable prices. £25.
- Base, 71 Hampstead High St, NW3 1QP (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7431 2224 ([email protected]), . Tu-Su 08:00-22:45, M 08:00-18:00. Mediterranean bistro notable for both its food and its wine list. £40.
- Goldfish, 82 Hampstead High St, NW3 1RE (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7794 6666. M-Th noon-22:30, F Sa noon-23:00, Su noon-22:00. Asian fusion eatery boasts a menu that is distinctly modern Chinese, with main courses such as wasabi prawns, mocha spare ribs and pan-fry roasted duck with special curry sauce and apple salsa. £60.
- Odette's, 130 Regent's Park Rd, NW1 8XL (tube: Chalk Farm), ☎ +44 20 7586 8569 ([email protected]), . Tu-Sa noon-14:30, 18:30-22:30, Su noon-15:00, 18:00-22:30. Modern European cooking in the Primrose Hill district. Interesting set degustation menu for £60 per head.
- Sardo Canale, 42 Gloucester Ave, NW1 8JD (tube: Chalk Farm), ☎ +44 20 7722 2800 ([email protected]), . T-Th noon-22:30, F Sa noon-23:00, Su noon-22:00. An Italian (Sardinian to be more precise) restaurant in a lovely setting by the Regent's Canal. Although on the more expensive side, it is arguably worth it. About £50 per head.
- Cafe 79, 79 Regent's Park Rd, NW1 8UY (tube: Chalk Farm), ☎ +44 20 7586 8012. M-Sa 08:30-18:00, Su 09:00-18:00. Simple vegetarian and whole food cafe with many vegan options also. Budget prices.
- Manna, 4 Erskine Rd, NW3 3AJ (tube: Chalk Farm), ☎ +44 20 7722 8028 ([email protected]), . 18:30-23:00 daily, Su noon-15:00. The UK's oldest vegetarian restaurant which has been in operation since 1966. That says a lot about the quality of the food, and the presentation and service are also top notch. £40.
Historic pubs are widespread in this district and visitors will have few problems finding a good quality, rewarding option. A vintage of 200 years is by no means unusual for such establishments and many have colourful stories to tell.
This is not a district with any regular after hours nightlife, but it is not far down the hill to the neighbouring areas of Camden Town and King's Cross where there are many late bar and dance club options.
Hampstead Village and around
Among Hampstead's many pubs are a few traditional jewels, including:
- The Flask, 14 Flask Walk, NW3 1HE (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7435 4580 ([email protected]), . Bar hours: M-Sa noon-23:00, Su noon-22:30. The name dates from the 18th and 19th centuries, when Hampstead was known as an area with many freshwater springs and people went there to take the waters. The current building has been a pub since 1874. Two bar rooms and a separate dining area.
The Holly Bush has been around since 1807
- The Holly Bush, 22 Holly Mount, NW3 6SG (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7435 2892 ([email protected]), . Bar hours: M-Sa noon-23:00, Su noon-22:30. Been around since 1807 and an absolute traditional favorite. Two bar rooms with open fireplaces. Consistently rated as one of the best traditional pubs in the whole of London.
- The King William IV, 77 Hampstead High St, NW3 1RE (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7435 5747 ([email protected]), . Bar hours: M-Th 11:00-23:00, F-Su 11:00-midnight. London's oldest established gay pub and a pleasant place for a drink whether you are gay or straight. Three bar rooms and a pleasant, if small, outdoor beer garden at the rear. Right in the heart of Hampstead village.
- The Old Bull and Bush, N End Rd, NW3 7HE (tube: Golders Green), ☎ +44 20 8905 5456 ([email protected]), . Bar hours 11:00-23:00 daily. This former farmhouse first gained a licence to sell liquor in 1721 and is the pub that gave rise to famous Victorian music hall song "Down at The Old Bull and Bush". Today it is a thriving pub and one which has modernised sympathetically. A great place to go for a drink and imagine the characters who have done likewise here over the past nearly 300 years.
- The Spaniard's Inn, Spaniard's Rd, NW3 7JJ (tube: Golders Green, then bus 210 which stops right outside), ☎ +44 20 8731 8406 ([email protected]), . Bar 11:00-23:00 daily. Been around since 1585 and has just claims to be one of the most famous pubs in London. Keats, Shelly and Byron all drank here and Dickens mentions it in Pickwick Papers. Local lore has it that Dick Turpin used the pub and that his ghost still does. These days it is a decent pub with a real countryside atmosphere.
- The Engineer, 65 Gloucester Ave, NW1 8JH (tube: Chalk Farm), ☎ +44 20 7722 0950 ([email protected]), . Bar hours: M-Sa 09:00-23:00, Su 09:00-22:30. Rather small pub with a cosy inside bar and lovely outdoor beer garden which gets busy in the summer. It is quite expensive compared to other local options.
- The Lansdowne, 90 Gloucester Ave, NW1 8HX (tube: Chalk Farm), ☎ +44 20 7483 0409 ([email protected]), . Bar M-F noon-23:00, Sa 09:00-23:00, Su 09:00-22:30. Local favourite with a lively bar downstairs and excellent restaurant on the first floor.
- The Pembroke Castle, 150 Gloucester Ave, NW1 8JA (tube: Chalk Farm and walk across the bridge), ☎ +44 8721 077 077. Bar M-Sa noon-23:00, Su noon-22:30. Intimate pub with a cozy inside bar and a very popular beer garden which gets packed in summer.
- The Princess of Wales, 22 Chalcot Rd, NW1 8LL (tube: Chalk Farm), ☎ +44 8721 077 077. Bar M-Sa 11:00-23:00, Su 11:00-22:30. Traditional pub which offers a fine selection of beers and has a relatively broad food menu. Traditional jazz is played on Thursday nights. One of the more reasonably priced pubs in the area.
- The Sir Richard Steele, 97 Haverstock Hill, NW3 4RL (tube: Belsize Pk), ☎ +44 20 7483 1261 ([email protected]), . Bar M-Sa 11:00-23:00, Su noon-22:30. Old fashioned London pub which runs a regular program of themed nights including some quite eclectic musical themes. Saturday is comedy night and especially popular. Named after the notable Georgian journalist and writer whose home was formerly on this site,
This is not a district well known for its accommodation options and few visitors stay here. The hotels that are available tend to be in the south of the district, although Hampstead Village itself does have a couple of good quality bed and breakfast options which are very much off the regular tourist path. In West Hampstead, there is a small cluster of budget bed and breakfast options.
- Charlotte Guest House, 195-197 Sumatra Rd, NW6 1PF (tube: West Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7794 6476 ([email protected]), . checkin: 30/10/2012; checkout: 01/11/2012. Traditional B&B with 43 rooms ranging from singles to family suites. The cheapest rooms do not have private bathrooms. From £50.
- Dawson House, 72 Canfield Gdns, NW6 3EG (tube: West Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7624 0079 ([email protected]), . Budget guest house with 15 rooms including family options. A five minute walk to the West Hampstead stations. From £59.
- Dillons, 21 Belsize Pk, NW3 4DU (tube: Belsize Pk), ☎ +44 20 7794 3360 ([email protected]), . Bed and breakfast in an old converted Victorian building in Belsize Park. Quiet and reserved residential neighbourhood but easy access to Hampstead Village. From £65.
- Hampstead Village Guest House, 2 Kemplay Rd, NW3 1SY (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7435 8679 ([email protected]), . A real traditional bed and breakfast experience staying in an old family run house in Hampstead Village. A converted Victorian detached house furnished in the period style. Easy five minute walk to Hampstead Heath and the main local shops and cafes. Offers free WiFi. From £90.
- La Gaffe, 107-111 Heath St, NW3 6SS (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 20 7435 8965 ([email protected]), . Charming boutique-type bed and breakfast accommodation above a restaurant and wine bar of the same name. Family owned and managed. From £85.
- Langorf Hotel and Apartments, 20 Frognal, NW3 6AG (tube: Finchley Rd), ☎ +44 20 7794 4483 ([email protected]), . Converted townhouse within walking distance of Hampstead Village. From £75.
- Palmer's Lodge Hostel, 40 College Cres, NW3 5LB (tube: Swiss Cottage), ☎ +44 20 7483 8470 ([email protected]), . A high quality, multi award-winning hostel in a converted Victorian mansion. Has private rooms as well as a number of dorm options. Offers free WiFi, breakfast included in the price and nice touches such as serving free trade coffee only. Dorm beds from £21, double private rooms £77.
- Swiss Cottage Hotel, 4 Adamson Rd, NW3 3HP (tube Swiss Cottage), ☎ +44 20 7722 2281 ([email protected]), . Converted Victorian townhouse with 59 rooms. Two minute walk to Swiss Cottage tube station. From £56.
- Belsize Library, Antrim Rd, NW3 4XN (tube: Belsize Pk), ☎ +44 20 7974 6518, . Tu W 10:00-19:00, Sa 10:00-17:00, closed M, Th F, Su. A small public library run by Camden Council which offers free public internet access. The queues are often long though.
- The Internet Cafe, 235 Finchley Rd, NW3 6LS (tube: Finchley Rd), ☎ +44 20 7435 6000. 10:00-21:00 daily. A small internet cafe offering light bites and drinks. Wrong phone number.
- Queen's Internet Cafe, 191 Queen's Cres, NW5 4DS (tube: Belsize Pk), ☎ +44 20 7485 1558. M-Sa 10:00-18:00. A rather quirky place which doubles as an internet cafe and a supplier of hair grooming products! Very friendly and a reliable, fast connection.
- Swiss Cottage Library, 88 Avenue Rd, NW3 3HA (tube: Swiss Cottage), ☎ +44 20 7974 6522,, . M-F 10:00-20:00, Sa 10:00-17:00, Su 11:00-16:00. A public library run by Camden Council which offers free WiFi and a limited number of desktop stations.
This is a comparatively safe district of London. You are however still in the city, so be sensible, especially after dark. If you do run into any difficulties, these are the main police stations in the district:
- Hampstead Police Station, 26 Rosslyn Hill, NW3 1PD (tube: Hampstead), ☎ +44 0300 123 1212, .
- West Hampstead Police Station, 21 Fortune Green Rd, NW6 1DX (tube: West Hampstead), ☎ +44 0300 123 1212, .
- Hampstead and Highgate Express (The Ham and High), 100A Avenue Rd, NW3 3HF, ☎ +44 20 7433 0000 ([email protected]), . Very few London districts have their own proper local newspaper (as opposed to a free sheet), but it is no surprise that literary Hampstead does. A great source of local news, events and listings. Published each Thursday, and widely available at newsagents and other outlets throughout the district.
- Royal Free Hospital, 23 E Heath Rd, NW3 1DU (tube: Belsize Pk), ☎ +44 20 7794 0500, . One of London's largest and most famous hospitals. Has a full A&E department.
- Camden Town with its wonderfully eclectic markets and shops, is just a couple of stops south on the Northern Line.
- From the south of the district, you can easily walk to Oxford Street and elsewhere in the West End, through the lovely Regent's Park.
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