For ages now I have had an idea for a series on the blog about London. Now that I am leaving I am finally going to do some although I fear it might be left hanging. I love London and there are little neighbourhoods which you often never discover because they aren’t necessarily ‘destinations’ or have a ‘must see sight’ but they have a lot going for them and if you found yourself in the area would be glad you knew about them so you could stop by for a wander, a pint or a little bit of light shopping.
The first in the series is probably an area you have heard about at least: Hampstead. I lived in a hostel in this beautiful north London suburb when I first moved to England. The hostel itself was nothing spectacular but it sure had a great location.
A visit to Hampstead can be quite a full day with a walk around the Heath, a visit to Keat’s House and a wonder around the Village near the heath or around the tube station. There are several bus options, an overground train and the tube so you won’t have any problems getting here. If you get off at the tube station there is a lovely high street with several familiar high street chains but also some hidden gems. It is often referred to as Hampstead Village and it certainly has buckets of Victorian village charm with quaint houses and pretty pedestrian walkways.
There are some great pubs. I would suggest the Holly Bush which does a mean Sunday nut roast and is just off the main drag. Flask on Flask Walk also has some great traditional interiors and a good selection of pub food. Flask Walk is home to a selection of vintage shops, hairdressers, an ice-cream shop, florist and about the most amazing second hand bookshop I have ever been in.
If you have a bit more of a budget head to the Hampstead Antiques Emporium for a gorgeous selection of vintage treasures and grab a coffee from the gentlemen who has a cart at the top of the alley (although he is looking to open a little shop in the same alley so let me know). He really seemed to know his stuff and Tim and I got a lesson in coffee in preparation for our departure to Italy.
Now the most important thing you have to do when you visit Hampstead is visit La Creperie so make sure you leave some space after your visit to the pub. It is just outside the King William IV pub. Unless you go during the day in the week there will be a queue and it will be long and slightly slow but the wait will be worth it. Persevere! They are freshly made with a selection of toppings and are really good. Sweet or savoury, up to you, but I suggest the chocolate nut crunch.
Have you been to Hampstead before? Let me know if you have any other must-dos.