Primrose Hill area guide: restaurants, schools, parks
12:30 16 February 2017
Your guide to all the things to do in Primrose Hill, including the best restaurants, shops, bars, schools and things to do. PLUS our guide to property in the area
Welcome to Primrose Hill
Historically a left-field retreat for writers and artists, in the past couple of decades Primrose Hill has gained a reputation as a home to many of Britain’s best known celebrities. Situated between Camden Town, Swiss Cottage and Regent’s Park, its hillside homes often carry a blockbuster price tag too.
The number of blue plaques that decorate the area’s tall Victorian terraces allude to its artistic background dating from the 19th century onwards, but the hill has significance stretching back as far as pre-Christian times. Druids believe that the hill is an ancient Celtic mound and gather there each year to mark the autumn equinox. In the 16th century Henry VIII used the forests for hunting, and by the start of the 19th century the hill had become one of London’s most notorious duelling sites, leading to several deaths including that of Lord Byron’s drinking companion, Lord Falkland. Over the years, the area’s artistic reputation has blossomed through generations of residents ranging from Victorian illustrator Arthur Rackham to playwright Alan Bennett.
Restaurants and bars
Primrose Hill’s picturesque streets are crammed with restaurants, cafes and pubs where locals and visitors linger over tea and cake or a sunny pint.
French restaurant L’Absinthe serves bistro classics with a related deli next door.
Satisfying afternoon sugar cravings is a Primrose Hill speciality with a plethora of cafes and tearooms catering to off-duty actors, freelancers and the after school crowd. Sweet Things, Le Tea Cosy and Primrose Bakery are all favourites for tea and cake.
Cachao, which also sells toys and small gifts, is a great place to grab a Marine Ices cone, milkshake or a smoothie.
Best for atmosphere… Greek restaurant Lemonia has been dishing up authentic Mediterranean dishes to locals and local celebrities alike in its large, buzzy, light-filled main room for 30 years.
Best for a date… Odette’s opened in 1978 and is now owned and run by chef Patron Bryn Williams, who brings his passion for seasonal produce to the restaurants luxurious tasting menu in its chic dining room.
Best for vegetarians… London’s oldest vegetarian restaurant Manna certainly knows a thing or two about a meat-free menu.
Best for brunch… Greenberry Cafe is the place to head for brunch in a family friendly and relaxed environment.
Best for a martini… towards Regent’s Canal Michael Nadra provides a formal setting in which to enjoy serious restaurant food or sink a couple of stiff drinks in the cocktail bar.
Shops and culture
While many beloved small independent shops have fallen victim to rising rents in recent years, the area still boasts more of such outlets than the average.
Butcher Jack O’Shea and French / Japanese fusion fishmonger La Petite Poissonnerie both sell quality raw ingredients for home cooks with Anthony’s Delicatessen and Melrose and Morgan supplying store cupboard ingredients and deli extras.
Best for books… Primrose Hill Books is a well-stocked independent shop with a great selection of local interest, bolstered by the many celebrated authors living locally .
Best for pets… Primrose Hill Pets caters for pampered pooches with toys and accessories as well as their own line of natural pet foods.
Best for crafts… Fabrics, ribbons, buttons, trimmings and patterns are all available at Sew Much Fun, which also offers craft workshops and classes.
There is no cinema in the area but the Primrose Hill Community Library has a monthly film club showing classic or world cinema with a glass of wine. Knitting and pilates sessions are also held on the premises.
Things to do with children
Animal-obsessed children will love the fact that London Zoo is on the doorstep and the aviary is clearly visible from the Hill poking above the trees.
Stagecoach Theatre Arts School has a branch in Primrose Hill offering singing, dancing and drama classes for aspiring actors and actresses from 4 to 18 as well as holiday workshops and themed parties.
Based at Cecil Sharp House, the English Folk Dance and Song Society runs holiday courses for children to learn about folk dancing and also hosts family barn dances for all ages to enjoy.
Primrose Hill Community Library has a variety of regular and one off events for children, including an after school homework club and private tuition, free drop-in story time sessions, and language classes.
Primary and secondary schools
Parents grooming their children for fame in adulthood could do worse than to consider sending them to Primrose Hill Primary School. The school, which has an Ofsted rating of Outstanding is alma mater to the Miliband brothers, Boris and Rachel Johnson, film director Sam Mendes and author Zoe Heller, all of whom attended at around the same time.
Fee paying North Bridge House offers mixed gender primary and secondary education, both rated outstanding by Ofsted. They will be inspected by SIS going forward.
Although Primrose Hill is in zone 2, its special village atmosphere is in part thanks to the lack of any major transport routes in the heart of the area. The nearest tube station is Chalk Farm, a 10 minute walk away, which sits on the Edgware branch of the Northern line. Swiss Cottage, on the Jubilee line is also fairly close. The 274 bus skirts the hill on its way to Lancaster Gate and the Angel while further buses can be picked up from Chalk Farm or Camden. The nearest Overground stations are Kentish Town West or Camden Road.
Sports facilities, gyms and exercise classes
With all those celebs calling the area home, looking good is big business in Primrose Hill. The NuYu salon offers an array of non-surgical cosmetic treatments from botox and facial fillers to chemical peels and laser hair removal.
Those after a more sociable pampering experience should head to the local branch of Soho House staple Cowshed for relaxing massages, mani-pedis and facials.
The hill is an obvious draw for joggers who can battle their way to the summit or struggle around the perimeter according to ability while nearby Regent’s Park has facilities for hire for everything from tennis to football.
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Primrose Hill is in the London Borough of Camden and has the NW1 postcode. It is in the Holborn and St Pancras parliamentary constituency.
Properties in Band A will pay £906.25 council tax; those in the average Band D will receive a bill for £1,359.38; and the most expensive homes in Band H will pay £2,718.76.
Primrose Hill has a wide variety of property styles (and indeed colours), ranging from four-storey stucco-fronted Victorian houses and terraces painted in a number of pastel shades to 1970s flats.
Regent’s Park Road
Prince Albert Road
Two-bedroom flat – £856,512
Terraced house – £2,202,794
Semi-detached house – £3,576,786
Detached house – £2,473,750
In Partnership with Goldschmidt and Howland
Goldschmidt and Howland Camden
114-118 Parkway, Camden, NW1 7AN
020 7043 4433