Hampstead area guide: shops, theatre, schools and the Heath
- Credit: Archant
Your guide to things to do in Hampstead, including the best shops, cafes, restaurants and schools. PLUS our guide to property in NW3
Welcome to Hampstead
Beautiful buildings and literary legends abound in this historic part of north London where you can have the culture of a city with the feel of a town. Hampstead is renowned for its literary and artistic heritage and the area reportedly has the highest number of blue plaques of any London suburb. A trip to psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud’s home – now a museum – is a popular stop for visitors who can see, among other exhibits, the famous psychoanalytic couch on which all his patients reclined.
Goldschmidt & Howland tip... people love Hampstead because of the village feel; you see the same faces everywhere
John Constable lived and painted in Hampstead, Keats wrote poetry and Edward Elgar composed here. It is also appears in literature, both past and present; Victorian novelist Wilkie Collins’ mystery “The Woman in White” opens with a scene on Hampstead Heath. Burgh House and Hampstead Museum is a beautiful Queen Anne building that one belonged to Rudyard Kipling’s daughter, Elsie and her husband Captain George Bambridge and is now open to the public, holding art exhibitions and community events
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The High Street is a convenient destination for upmarket chain shopping, while some of the smaller cobbled streets offer a glimpse of the bohemian Hampstead of yore. Flask Walk and Heath Street are home to attractive independent shops, including Keith Fawkes, a charming second-hand book shop, and Judy Green’s Garden Store. New openings include Bubbles and Light selling British-made all natural soaps and candles, and florist Flora Club at 82 Heath Street, which has replaced Hundred Acres toy shop.
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Best for boho... Hampstead Bazaar has been dressing women with hippyish leanings for more than four decades.
Best for brands… Those of a more high-end high street bent can choose between Whistles, Jigsaw and Hobbs. Question Air boutique stocks many favourite brands.
Best for Francophiles… Comptoir des Cotonniers, Tara Jarmon and Zadig & Voltaire cater for French wannabes.
Best for a bite… Food shopping is focused around high-end delicatessens and grocers such as Melrose and Morgan, The Hampstead Butcher & Providore, Artichoke and Jeroboam’s for fine wine.
Eating and drinking
Goldschmidt & Howland tip... for coffee, Ginger & White is always busy
Hampstead’s range of restaurants and cafés provide for a particular clientele with good food and efficient service. For a quick bite there’s Mani’s sandwich bar and for a taste of the Hampstead of legend, try La Gaffe, an Italian restaurant with rooms that has been operating since 1962. Jin Kichi offers authentic Japanese cooking and sushi. Established over 30 years ago, Villa Bianca, located in Perrins Court serves good Italian food and offers special deals on lunch menus. There’s a somewhat mysterious new eatery at 28 Church Row, formerly Le Cellier du Midi, and a new coffee, cake and light bites hang out at Bunny Yawn.
Best for baked goods… Try Louis Patisserie or one of the mid-range chains like Gail’s and Paul
Best for a picnic… Al fresco snacks are provided by La Crêperie de Hampstead
Best for a brew… A daytime coffee shop culture caters for well-heeled Hampstead mums and freelancers with indie shops like Coffee Cup and trendy Antipodean-style coffee is served in Ginger and White.
Best for a beverage… The area abounds in good pubs: try The Hollybush, The Flask or The Duke of Hamilton for a cosy drinking, steeped in history. The King William IV on the High Street is one of the oldest gay bars in London.
Best for pub grub… Since Hampstead dining is surprisingly lacklustre with the High Street dominated by upscale chains like Carluccio’s, it’s best to stick to the pubs. The Wells Tavern has won awards for its cooking; The Horseshoe’s field-to-fork ethos sees queues forming on Sundays and it is in the basement that the Camden Town Brewery was founded; and The Hollybush upstairs dining room is more restaurant than gastropub.
Things to do with children
The Everyman’s Baby Club is a welcome opportunity for parents to catch up on the latest releases without having to pay a babysitter with two films on offer each week. UCS Active offers after school ballet and street jazz dance classes to local children between the ages of three and 12.
Primary and secondary schools
Goldschmidt & Howland tip... families love the area because of the excellent schools
Primary education is dominated by the independent sector, with a number of very highly regarded schools. Competitive selective secondary schools include South Hampstead High School for girls, with UCS up the road teaching boys.
State primary Christ Church Primary School, received an Outstanding Ofsted rating in its most recent inspection, while state primary Hampstead Parochial Church of England primary school has Good in its Ofsted report. LaSwap sixth-form consortium offers a middle ground between a college and a school for post-16 education.
Sports, leisure and culture
Goldschmidt & Howland tip... on a Sunday, take a walk on the beautiful green and visit the ponds. For downtime, head to the everyman for an intimate cinema experience
The 320 hectares of Hampstead Heath provide plenty of space for running or long walks, with spectacular views over London. Swimmers can choose between wild swimming in the ponds, which offer single sex or mixed bathing; or the Parliament Hill Lido. The number of private health clubs in the area includes UCS active, which is open to residents out of school times.
Best for a rainy day… Indoor entertainment can be found in the Hampstead Theatre, Pentameters Theatre or at the luxurious Everyman Cinema.
Best for history… There are several heritage attractions in the area: Historic Burgh House is home to the Hampstead Museum with a permanent collection as well as a programme of events. Fenton House is a 17th century merchant’s house with historical displays while 2 Willow Road is an icon of Modernism, both National Trust.
Best for a song and dance... Heath St Baptist Church runs a lively programme of concerts, Get Swingin’ swing dance and regular kids activities. The Baroquestock Feastival of ‘early(ish) musick and home cooked food’ runs from 23rd April-1st May.
Driving through the residential streets of Hampstead is a notoriously labyrinthine ordeal, with limited street parking and highly-coveted residents-only spaces. Cars are largely redundant, however, in an area with such excellent transport links.
Hampstead is situated in Zone 2 on the London Underground and Hampstead Underground station is served by the Northern line. Also in the area is Finchley Road Underground, on the Jubilee and Metropolitan Lines. There are a number of bus routes connecting Hampstead with areas in central and north London and the London Overground network stops at Hampstead Heath and Finchley Road & Frognal.
Hampstead is in the London Borough of Camden and has the NW3 postcode. It is in the Hampstead and Kilburn parliamentary constituency. The total Council Tax bill that the smallest properties in Band A would expect to pay is £944.97. Properties in the average Band D should receive a bill of £1,417.46. The most expensive homes in Band H pay £2,834.92
Housing stock is predominantly made up of large Victorian and Edwardian properties, with particularly prestigious addresses on the Hocroft Estate. Smaller, older homes are found in Hampstead village with the size compensated by historical value and immense prettiness. There are also a few notable examples of 20th-century Modernism scattered through the area.
Two-bedroom flat - £1,005,402
Terraced house - £2,600,001
Semi-detached house - £4,085,284
Detached house - £5,578,481
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