Belsize Park area guide: restaurants, schools, cinema and celebrities
- Credit: Polly Hancock
Your guide to things to do in Belsize Park, including the best shops, cafes, restaurants and schools. PLUS our guide to property in NW3
Welcome to Belsize Park
It’s little wonder that Belsize Park’s stucco-fronted houses, trendy status and proximity to some of London’s top school attract young professionals and families alike.
Residents love the strong community vibe, and the area has its fair share of celebrity fans, including comedian David Walliams and actress Helena Bonham-Carter, although James Corden has currently let out his property whilst he works in LA.
Named after the french ‘bel assis’, meaning well situated, Belsize Park first became popular in the 19th century when Londoners climbed the hill to Belsize House to take in the fresh air and unrivalled views across the Heath and the rest of the city. The hilltop manor is long since gone, but the area maintained its allure for artists and intellectuals well into the 1930s, when artists Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gambo were at the centre of a cultural revival in the area.
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The Second World War saw the historic Royal Free Hospital heavily bombed and much of the surrounding area was substantially rebuilt. More recently, the area has drawn the likes of painter Patrick Caulfield and a host of actors, musicians and well-loved comedians can be spotted with a cappuccino in one of the area’s cosy cafés or out for a stroll of a Sunday morning.
Barretts’ Butchers on England’s Lane is a family run shop selling fresh and cooked meats, pies, cheese and game. Pomona Deli completes the picture of high-end, traditional-style shops with its emphasis on local and organic produce where possible, sourced from organic farmers, Cornish dayboats and London bakers, supplemented with more exotic worldwide items. They also offer home delivery for the ultimate in old-fashioned convenience.
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Best for book lovers… Part of the small independent chain, Daunt Books is a treasure trove of literature, which attracts a host of loyal customers thanks to its welcoming atmosphere for browsing and its interesting selection. Friendly, knowledgeable staff completes the dream bookshop picture.
Best for children… Lotus and Frog’s unique blue frontage and whimsical window display entice shoppers in to browse toys, games, books and curios for all ages. Little
Best for art… for affordable 20th and 21st century British and European art visit Sylvester Fine Art, who also stocks a range of contemporary studio ceramics
Goldschmidt and Howland tip… Thornton’s Budgens on Haverstock Hill is a go-to local independent store with a fine selection of excellent produce and superb sushi
Cafes, bars and restaurants
The key shopping district around England’s Lane is teeming with cosy cafés, gastropubs and restaurants perfect for afternoon tea or a hearty meal after a walk on the Heath.
New opening for 2017 Juniper Tree is run by a Belsize local and focuses on British cooking using only organic ingredients. Check out their twist on traditional rhubarb and custard for dessert.
Chamomile Café on England’s Lane is a haven for coffee lovers, and locals line up for their selection of cakes, patisserie and home-made lunches which serve up a rich beef bourguignon and lemon-crusted salmon fillet with special ‘chamomile potatoes’.
Best for breakfast… the breakfast menu at Ginger and White’s offers an artisanal take on the traditional English breakfast with smoky home-made baked beans and poached eggs on sourdough toast.
Best for furry friends… Oliver’s Village Café is a dog friendly café in the heart of Belsize Village. They now have acoustic nights, a supper club and serve roasts on a Sunday.
Best for a pint… For the thirsty Belsizer there are a range of atmospheric pubs including the Sir Richard Steele in Steeles Village and the secret speakeasy downstairs in the wood-panelled surrounds of The Washington at the top of England’s Lane.
Goldschmidt and Howland tip… There’s no shortage of exceptional places to stop in for a coffee, but Ginger & White is still hard to beat
Things to do
The Everyman cinema is a single-screen venue showing predominantly arthouse and independent films in a luxurious setting, complete with sofas and a full bar. It’s not cheap, but it’s certainly comfortable.
Wac Arts in the Old Town Hall on Haverstock Hill hosts arts events and training for adults and children. Courses include after school clubs, an alternative curriculum for 14-19 year olds with a focus on performing arts, and a diploma in professional musical theatre, while the community hub offers a recording studio, office space, a community choir and a film society.
Goldschmidt and Howland tip… The Everyman is a great place to drop in for the latest movies
Things to do with children
Families are well provided for in Belsize Park, with Little Hands Design on Belsize Lane offering an award-winning dress-making and design workshop giving little tailors and seamstresses and their parents the chance to stitch their own dresses, accessories and creative designs under the guidance of a team of professional textiles experts. The Creative Wiz Kids play group at St.Peter’s Church offers plenty of opportunities for budding artists to paint, draw and explore with a team of vibrant teachers who foster the idea of “learning through play not pressure.”
Primary and secondary schools
Belsize Park boasts a number of the capital’s most sought-after schools, although Abacus School, which opened in 2013, is the only primary in the heart of the village. The secular, community school has proved hugely popular and gained an Ofsted rating of Outstanding at its recent inspection.
Nursery and pre-prep Hamsptead Hill school in Pond Street and Rosary RC on Haverstock Hill rated by Ofsted as Good. Fleet Primary and Lyndhurst House preparatory school maintain the overall Good standard for primary education in the area.
The well-regarded University College School and South Hampstead High School for girls consistently achieve league table-topping results at GCSE and A-Level.
Belsize Park station is in zone two on the London Underground, offering access to central London twenty minutes away on the Northern Line. Many of the main residential roads are just a short step from Chalk Farm station and Hampstead Heath on the London Overground. Excellent bus services also connect Belsize Park to major routes in north London and into the centre of town within 30 minutes.
Belsize Park Gardens
Two-bedroom flat – £903,093 Terraced house- £2,236,385 Semi detached house – £4,082,912 Detached house – £4,584,065