Hampstead: clean streets, great pub eats and prime access to the Heath
- Credit: Archant
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 market town.
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 £906.25. Properties in the average Band D should receive a bill of £1,359.38. The most expensive homes in Band H pay £2,718.76.
The average price of a two-bedroom flat in Hampstead is £1,008,324, for a semi-detached home it’s £3,536,139, and for a detached house it’s £4,851,111. 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.
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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.
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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.
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.
Landmarks and history
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.
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.
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 secondhand book shop, and Judy Green’s Garden Store.
For high-end high street you can choose between Whistles, Jigsaw and Hobbs. Comptoir des Cotonniers, Tara Jarmon and Zadig & Voltaire cater for French wannabes while Question Air boutique stocks many favourite brands.
Food shopping is focused around high-end delicatessens and grocers such as Melrose and Morgan, The Hampstead Butcher & Providore, and Artichoke, and for fine wines head to Jeroboams. New opening Bubbles and Light sells British-made all natural soaps and candles.
Eating and drinking
Hampstead’s range of restaurants and cafés provide for a particular clientele with good food and efficient service. A daytime coffee shop culture caters for well-heeled Hampstead mums and freelancers with mid-range chains such as Gail’s, Paul and Carluccio’s bookended by independent eateries like the legendary Coffee Cup, Louis Patisserie and Mani’s sandwich bar. Trendy Antipodean-style coffee is served in Ginger and White.
New opening on Heath Street is LLS Cafe Deli serving fresh smoothies and an organic, locally sourced menu featuring dishes such as challah french toast and raw zuchinni fetuccine pasta.
Al fresco snacks are provided by La Crêperie de Hampstead, while 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.
Hampstead dining is surprisingly lacklustre with the High Street dominated by chains and some consider it best to stick with pub grub that is a cut above the average. 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.
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.
Sports and leisure and culture
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.
There are also 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. Two National Trust properties show the contrast available in the area: Fenton House is a 17th century merchant’s house with historical displays while 2 Willow Road is an icon of Modernism which has been preserved much as he enjoyed it.
Good for kids
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.