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When I first arrived in London after finishing college many moons ago, I was lucky enough to find a flat-share in Hampstead from the Evening Standard. I lived there for 2 years. I didn''t know the area before I moved in, but was really, pleasantly surprised at what a great place it is to live in London. It was then - still is - very cosmopolitan and vibrant but is now far less bohemian and colourful; it is so much more expensive now to buy or rent there than ever it was.
Nevertheless, the Heath has been well preserved and the whole area is a fabulous amenity so close to the heart of London. Transport links are pretty good - the no 24 bus still goes from South End Green through to the West End and down to Westminster where I used to work, then there is the Northern Line to Belsize Park and Hampstead as well as the overground from Hampstead Heath.
i dont think that hampstead is a very nice place. i dont like going to hampstead and i won't go there in future because i dont like going to hamstead. the reason that i dont like going to hamstead is that i dont like going to it. i dont like going to it because it smells funny and the people there are not very nice. so i am warning you not to go to hamstead because it is not a very nice place to go to.
When I was walking in Hamstead Heath oneday, I happened to see Parliament Hill. Although lots of high building block the view. Parliament Hill is probably one of the best and highest places you can watch London from . London looks different there. You can see St Paul from the hill. At the hill, there is an amazing view. In one side, you can see London, in the other side, you can see nice view of the buildings at the opposite hill. There is sign there which facilitate to identify the buildings you see in the view. When I was there, sun was setting and it was so romantic. I have been there a few more times but I can tell you the best time is when sun is setting. There are also lots of people playing with their model boats.
If you fancy a bit of countryside, or some unique shops, Hampstead is the place to be. It's in North London, dead easy to get to on the Northern Line. Enjoy the station - it's the deepest station in the whole underground system, and you'll need to go up in a quick moving lift. The lift moves so fast, you might even feel your ears pop. Once you reach the surface, prepare for a shock - there's a hill just outside the station. A hill. Now, for those of us who've lived in London a while, a hill is something that goes up (or down), and you generally find those out in the country. What a pleasant surprise to find a hill in London, therefore. Hills are nice. Walk up the hill (turn right outside the station - that direction is the one generally known as "up") and you'll go through some beautiful parts of Hampstead. It was a village until the 18th century, you know, and there are plenty of lovely narrow streets, including some fabulous old pubs, art galleries and other interesting shops. Turn left after the "All Bar One" and climb up the steps marked "Holly Mount", and you'll discover the "Holly Bush", much acclaimed as one of London's finest ale houses. It looks nice and historical from the outside; the ales are Suffolk ales (Broadsides being the one we tried), but the food is excellent. You wonder why you're spending £7 for sausages and mash until they arrive - complete with bread as a side order, deep-brown onion gravy, huge plates. Lovely. At the top of the hill is Jack Straw's Castle - not called after the current Home Secretary, this is a pub which has recently re-opened. We popped in to discover that it reopened yesterday, and had a few beers on, notably Caffreys, but didn't take Switch, so we couldn't have a drink. A shame, since we were really quite out of breath after trudging up the hill - though they'll take Switch in a few weeks, appare
ntly. Turn right at the top of the hill to get to Hampstead Heath. This is 790 acres, and if you thought that a Heath was a large open field, as we did, then you'll be pleasantly surprised... lots of trees, small paths, and it's even (in places) cycle friendly, so you can bring the bikes for a good workout. To the right as you walk down, you'll see great views of central London. On the skyline you can see St Paul's Cathedral, Canary Wharf and the Telecom Tower - this is the best place to see exactly how tall these buildings are; they tower over all other buildings you can see. It's a wonderful place to come and relax - as long as the funfair isn't there (we went on a bank holiday weekend on one of our visits) it's a quiet and wonderful place to be. Lots of open sunny spaces, and lots of quiet, secluded paths. And then there's the shops. Lots of nice fashion shops; lots of open cafes and more pubs; antique shops and an amazing delicatessen selling stuff from all over the world. But be careful to look around, too - you'll see little roads, nooks and crannies that look unchanged for over a hundred years. For a quick map, incidentally, including the bus routes, check out http://www.quickmap.com/walk2fhamp.htm We loved it. It's good for a nice walk, and good too for a shopping trip. While it's not the cheapest place to be, it's certainly one of the most picturesque.
Fenton House is a vivid illustration of life in Hampstead in the eighteenth century. More than just another historic house, this National Trust property is a remnant of semi-rural Hampstead which brings the area’s former village past to life. HAMPSTEAD Until the seventeenth century, Hampstead was a small rural village a little way out of the city. However, local well-water was believed to have health-giving properties because of its high iron content, and from the mid-seventeenth century, visitors came to the village. By the eighteenth century, there was a Pump Room and the village expanded substantially. Among the new residents were writers and artists (notably Keats). It is now of course fully absorbed into London. Fenton House was built in the late seventeenth century, as part of Hampstead’s expansion. It belonged to professionals including a lawyer and a series of merchants and importers. Similar large houses continued to be built nearby until the mid-nineteenth century. As you walk to the house up Windmill Hill (the route from Hampstead tube station), you pass several other similar houses, and still get a sense of Hampstead’s village past. THE HOUSE As you climb Windmill Hill, Fenton House comes into view. You can walk to the house through the front garden, up its gravel drive. This was the original main entrance of the house. However, if you do so, walk around the house to the right: during the nineteenth century, the entrance was moved to what used to be the side of the house, and this remains the entry in use. You may need to knock on the door to get into the house; don’t let this put you off! I found the staff really friendly, and best of all, you can safely leave coats and bags in the hall and tour the property unencumbered. Admission is £4.30 for adults, free for National Trust members. You can join on site, and I would recommend membership for the London p
roperties alone (including the nearby – but very different – 2 Willow Road, a modernist house built in 1939 by Erno Goldfinger). As soon as you enter the house, you may notice something special about this property. It houses a collection of historic instruments, the Benton Fletcher Collection, and a number of musicians have permission to play them. If you are lucky, your visit will be accompanied by music – there were three people playing during my visit. Should the house be quiet when you are there, you can hire a tape of music played on the instruments to listen to as you walk around. The other major theme of the house is porcelain: a collection spanning Chinese, European and English porcelain is on display throughout its rooms. It was left to the Trust along with the house itself by Lady Binning, the last private owner. If this is of particular interest to you, borrow the guide to the collections. For the general visitor, there is a choice of two guides to buy: the very cheap short guide, or the more expensive (£3.50) but comprehensive and colour-illustrated full guide. Your tour begins in the dining room – this was originally two rooms, with the old front door between. You will immediately see musical instruments – including a 1770 harpsichord – and ceramics (Chinese vases and English earthenware). The view over the garden is also something you will have an opportunity to appreciate from most rooms as you tour the house. I don’t propose to comment on every room – that would make for a long and rather boring opinion! However, highlights include the two cabinets in the Porcelain Room (an impressive array of figurines, albeit not my taste); the seventeenth-century needlework pictures in the Rockingham Room and Green Room; and the cow creamers on the South-West Room mantelpiece and flock of pottery sheep in the adjacent South-East Room. The East Room is fi
lled with drawings and toys relating to a series of children’s books, the Odd and Elsewhere books by James Roose-Evans. They are featured here because they are set in the house. You can purchase these books, as well as postcards and CDs, in the South-West Room. THE GARDEN The front garden, through which the house is approached, is pleasant but no preparation for the back garden. You walk into it through a little yew arbour, and emerge to see a terrace walk, with below it a lawn and a sunken garden. Visiting at the tail end of winter, there were few flowers but the structure of the garden is itself very impressive and appealing. The different levels and the hedges and paths separating different sections give a relatively small area a lot of interest and a sense of discovery as you walk around. In summer, there are apparently roses, catmint, fuchsias and more – I’m definitely planning a return visit! Further into the back garden is a kitchen garden with espaliered fruit trees and a greenhouse – still very much a working greenhouse, which makes it much more interesting to the visitor. At the time of my visit, there was a small plant sale, offering the chance of a living souvenir for visitors with gardens. I’m not a gardener, but really enjoyed walking around these gardens. They are more intimate than those at many National Trust properties, and give a strong sense of being working gardens on a very human scale. CONCLUSION Fenton House and its gardens are a marvellous way of appreciating Hampstead’s history as a village, rather than an urban suburb. The relatively intimate scale of the property is very appealing, and a visit is enhanced by the friendly and helpful staff. There is no shop, although postcards, guidebooks and CDs are on sale. There is also no café, but this is not a problem given the number of cafes and restaurants in Hampstead. You could v
isit the Buttery at nearby Burgh House, which has delicious home-made cakes as well as light meals; the house itself is a museum of local history and worth a visit in its own right. Nearest underground station: Hampstead (a short – but uphill – walk) Open April – October, 2-5pm Wednesday to Friday, 11am – 5pm weekends and Bank Holiday Mondays. Wheelchair access to ground floor and to upper walk of garden only
Hampstead has long been the most chic part of North London, with its myriad clothes shops and fashionable cafés (see my review of the Hampstead Crêperie). The heart of the area is Hampstead High Street, which runs from Whitestone Pond, down past the tube station, all the way to where it becomes Rosslyn Hill and goes down to Belsize Park. The top part of the street, above the underground station, is the focus of what is known as “HAMPSTEAD VILLAGE”. It includes the Dome, a lovely if pricey café-restaurant, and also Hampstead’s Pizza Express. You may take the view, however, that if you’re coming to Hampstead you should take advantage of the variety it has to offer rather than going into the familiar chain restaurants – I would certainly apply this principle to MacDonald’s, further down, although maybe not the delightful Café Rouge. The top part of the street also now bears an HMV store, but it is somewhat disappointing. You will find what you want if your tastes are fairly mainstream, but for anything too “out” you will probably need to stick to HMV Oxford Street. On the other hand, if it’s CLOTHES you’re after, there could be no better place. Unfortunately this is not my area of expertise (how many boys could honestly say it was?), but if you have money to spend, you will not be disappointed by the quality and variety Hampstead has to offer. Something I know rather more about is COFFEE, and the quality of that is equally high. To continue past the tube station, we get to Café Rouge, Café Base, Café Nero, Café Bianco, Costa, The Coffee Cup, and probably more I have forgotten. I particularly like Café Bianco, which is on the second footpath down (you’ll understand what I mean in a minute). Look out for the all day breakfast. In Café Base you will find toasted sandwiches that are second to none, convenient for taking away; Coffee Cup has a great bohmeian atmosphere but is a litt
le smoky; Costa is fine if you like that sort of thing but to me a little impersonal. I haven’t yet mentioned Louis’ PATISSERIE, which serves the best chocolate croissant this side of Paris along with a whole range of superb cakes and pastries. Like so much in the area it is overpriced, but worth every penny. It is to be found on Heath Street, which is the road you get to if you go straight out of the station, cross the road and carry on straight over. Also here is the Everyman CINEMA, a well known venue for art film screenings. Along from there is the junior branch of University College School. The senior school is on Frognal, round the corner, and is the alma mater of Roger Bannister, Julian Lloyd Webber, Pete Dennis, Will Self and Thomas Adès. Because Heath Street and Hampstead High Street run nearly parallel, they have several interconnecting footpaths at 90 degrees to them. The first (as you walk away from the station) is home to the Three Horseshoes, a popular and cheap pub, and Bagel Street, a newish café whose name tells you all you need to know. Lots of bagels – very, very nice and surprisingly cheap. The second contains Café Bianco and its exorbitantly priced cousin, Villa Bianco (a restaurant). I would not be doing Hampstead justice if I only mentioned one PUB. There is also the Flask, along Flask Walk (turn right out of the station and look for a footpath); the Thingy and Whatsit (I might have remembered that name wrong) just up from there; King of Bohemia a little way down the High Street; and then the Wells Tavern about 15 minutes walk away on Well Walk. The Flask I haven’t visited but it is supposed to be nice; the Platypus and Cabbage is frankly a bit crusty and dull; King of Bohemia is mostly older teenagers or early twenties and gets quite lively in the evenings; the Wells is very nice and good for younger people (don’t go on a Friday or Saturday night if hordes of teenagers is your idea of a
nightmare). I should briefly go back to Whitestone Pond, at the top end of Hampstead High Street. On the far side is Jack Straw’s Castle, a famous inn/restaurant with panoramic views of London from the balcony. Straight ahead of you if you carry on up from Hampstead Village is the equally famous Hampstead Heath, a massive expanse of greenery that includes Parliament Hill and stretches to near Highgate. Loosely attached at the end nearest Golders Green is Golders Hill Park, sometimes called the Heath Extension, which is near the renonwed Bull and Bush pub and boasts a newly-renovated café. Hampstead is expensive, but very pleasant and fashionable. I have focused on the cafés, pubs and clothes shops, but there is more to it than that – it has everything you would expect of an area of London. Well worth a visit.
Hampstead is possibly one of the most well-known 'villages' in London, although to term her a 'village' is something of a misnomer because I don't know many villages with quite so many expensive designer shops and trendy cafes/bars. Hampstead is a short (or not so short, depending on the vagrancies of the Northern Line!) hop north from the West End, but it certainly has a unique feel, even when compared to other 'exclusive' spots in London. Most notably, of course, there is the Heath. I've lived in the area for many years and still spend a good proportion of time getting lost when I go to the Heath, but it's a great place for a wander. There aren't many maps around though and it is certainly a lot wilder (in an uncut grass kind of way, not a mad partying kind of way!) than most London parks. The views from Parliament Hill on a good day reach across the whole of London, including much for Docklands and of course, Canary Wharf (which is possible to see from many parts of London so that's nothing very special really.. ). There's also a very pleasant cafe by Parliament Hill. There are a few lakes as well, including three for swimming, (only in the summer though!), one for men, one for women and a mixed one. All of which notorious 'pulling' spots for those interested in either or both sexes..(well, it is very important to know these things before you head of for an innocent swim with small children in tow.. ). Also there is Kenwood House, a setting for open-air concerts in the summer and a pleasant, free art gallery with a really nice restaurant and cafe attached in the middle of a small wood which feels distinctly un-Londonlike, if it wasn't for all the professional-types strutting around with chihuahuas (probably spelt that wrong, sorry!), under their arms. As for the 'village' itself, it has a variety of shops, aimed for the most part at people with ve
ry high disposable incomes, no Netto here! But there is a lovely Waterstones and even the McDonalds has a bit of posh with a lovely facade and paintings inside. There are some great pubs which do good, reasonably priced food, particularly The Flask, on Flask Walk, where also, incidently, there's an Oxfam shop with a line in off-cast designer goods! The Spaniards Inn, by Kenwood is beautiful, but the food is a wee bit nasty, but it's great for a drink or two. There is no getting away from the fact that Hampstead exudes wealth from its every pore, but it tries to be a bit less overstated about it, unlike, for example a Knightsbridge or a Chelsea, perhaps indicative of the 'bohemian' feel it likes to revel in. This is a slight misnomer though, because you do have to be a fairly rich bohemian to mingle with the scene here, but it isn't quite so oppressive. In all it's a beautiful little corner of London, worth a visit and home to any number of artistic/literary giants over the centuries. You can see why they liked it, especially if you wander down some of the streets parallel to the Heath and look at the houses....