The ultimate guide to Hampstead

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Known for its leafy open spaces (and the hordes of celebrities attracted to its blue-plaque lined streets), the historically rich neighbourhood of Hampstead has long been seen as one of the more upmarket and desirable boroughs in the capital. From the best times to visit the heath to where we’re grabbing the ultimate savoury treats and ferreting out the rarest second-hand books, these are the hotspots to visit, with their own loyal fanbase amongst locals and tourists alike.

The best restaurants in Hampstead

  • The ultimate guide to Hampstead

    The Holly Bush

    Best for: a winning roast

    A good roast in London is worth travelling far for, and the offering at The Holly Bush is the kind of lunch we’ll book in even on the weariest of Sundays. This pub hidden away down a side street on Holly Mount serves all the gastro-pub big hitters, but the focus is on quality meat and highlights include the Roast Norfolk chicken, served to share, and rare-as-you like sirloin of Owton’s beef, clearly cooked to order and served with plenty of fiery horseradish sauce. Yorkshire puds are sadly missing from the plate, but the presence of copious mounds of cauliflower cheese is a fair compromise in our eyes.

  • The ultimate guide to Hampstead

    La Creperie de Hampstead

    Best for: a grab-and-go taste of France

    Hampstead may not sound like the most likely place to grab an expertly cooked French-style crêpe, but this now-legendary stand on the High Street has been serving the crispy wheat- and buckwheat-based snacks since 1980, and now has a legion of fans and a daily queue round the block. It’s neither hard to spot (the queue dies down only after lunchtime) nor expensive, and therein lies its charm. Cheap, cheesy and delectably moreish. Be sure to make the most of your time when at the front of the queue: order over the odds, as the loaded, crispy cones will be wolfed down in mere moments.

    Address: La Creperie de Hampstead, 77 Hampstead High Street, London NW3 1RE

    Jin Kichi

    Best for: high-quality sushi at purse-friendly prices

    Japanese food is big in Hampstead, with competition so high among its streets and those of neighbouring Highgate that there is never a shortage of places to find a decent nigiri set or hand roll. Still seen as the original and the best, Jin Kichi may look rather unassuming from the outside, but push past the rather drab façade (and miniature plastic display sushi) to a venue that will, more often than not, be buzzing with life and steaming-hot plates of yakitori skewers weaving through the crowded tables. Its diminutive size means that more often than not there will be a short wait for a table, but take a ceramic cup of sake to the bar and take in your surroundings: it’s a great spot to while away the hours and do a little people-watching at the same time.

    Address: Jin Kichi, 73 Heath Street, London NW3 6UG


    Telephone: + 44 20 7794 6158


    Website: jinkichi.com

  • The ultimate guide to Hampstead

    The Flask

    Best for: dog-watching and pint-guzzling

    Not to be confused with the popular pub of the same name in neighbouring Highgate, The Flask has one staple bar snack that easily places it at the top of the list for pub-goers the area: a sausage roll of rich, herb-laden meat wrapped in crispy, buttery pastry. Head to the watering hole before darkness falls, as you’ll be lucky to find either a seat or a sausage roll after 7pm. If meat is not your bag, there’s baked Somerset Camembert or roasted fennel, beetroot and squash, with freekeh grains and the optional addition of goats cheese and a generous drizzle of honey. Like most pubs in the area, it’s also well attended by punters of the four-legged kind, with more wiry whippets out in force than you can shake a proverbial stick at.


    Nautilus

    Best for: a classic without compromise


    Nautilus won’t win any prizes for being the most beautiful place to eat in Hampstead, but you’ll be hard pushed to find crispier, more delicious (and reasonably priced) fish and chips anywhere else in North London. Clad in the kind of glossed-pine planking normally reserved for a sauna (or northern-French chalet), the restaurant has a simple menu, unfussy and uncompromising in its desire to give its loyal patrons what they came for. Don’t bother going off piste and trying more niche variants of the tried-and-tested classic – the cod fillet is still the most popular option on the menu, and for good reason. Mushy peas are optional but highly recommended.

    Address: Nautilus, 27 Fortune Green Road, London NW6 1DU


    Telephone: +44 20 7435 2532

  • The ultimate guide to Hampstead

    The Buttery Cafe

    Best for: a contemplative oasis in the heart of the village

    Hampstead Heath is, undeniably, one of the main attractions of the area across both the summer and winter months, but with hardly any cafés actually on the heath, it’s the Buttery Café, on the lower floor of the Queen Anne-era Burgh House, which capitalises on locals looking to enjoy a bite to eat when the weather is fair. There are a number of tables outside on the terrace, and the venue has a rather informal approach to table service (especially during busier periods), but it’s still one of the best spots to enjoy a glass of wine with friends. What’s more, entry to the house and museum is free, so getting a cultural hit pre-tipple is always on the cards.

    Address: The Buttery Cafe, Burgh House & Hampstead Museum, New End Square, Hampstead London NW3 1LT


    Telephone: +44 20 7794 3943


    Website: burghhouse.museumssites.com

    Where to shop


  • The ultimate guide to Hampstead

    Melrose and Morgan

    Best for: fantastic local produce

    Originally established in Primrose Hill back in 2004, Melrose and Morgan has grown to become one of the more popular independent retailers in the area, championing small-scale artisans in the face of the growing pressure of surrounding chains. Besides being a fantastic all-day eatery, it sells groceries worth travelling across town for: if the produce isn’t made on site, you can bet it’ll have a provenance that’s been carefully considered and chosen… Stock up on locally sourced cheeses, handmade chutneys and organic fruit after a long walk across the heath – Saturdays don’t get much better.

    Address: Melrose and Morgan, Oriel Hall, Oreil Place, London NW3 1QN


    Telephone: +44 20 7794 6727


    Website: melroseandmorgan.com

  • The ultimate guide to Hampstead

    Maud & Mabel

    Best for: unique homeware for improving the everyday

    Setting out to make the usual more unusual, Maud and Mabel has excelled in providing contemporary ceramics and art for those in search of an upgrade on their day-to-day objects (even if it’s just one step at a time). The shop’s ethos is inspired by the Shibumi principle of favouring unobtrusive beauty, and you’ll find a collection of objects simple in both colour palette and form. The result is a serene space filled with all manner of inspiring trinkets, and homewares. Warning: a visit is likely to result in an overwhelming desire to Marie Kondo your entire existence and live a monotone life using only hand-crafted ceramicware. Tread with caution (and leave your bank card at home).

    Address: Maud & Mabel, 10 Perrin’s Court, London NW3 1QS


    Telephone: +44 20 7435 2099


    Website: maudandmabel.com

  • The ultimate guide to Hampstead

    Galton Flowers

    Best for: the best blooms for your buck

    Of the countless flower shops up and down the High Street, Galton Flowers, just off to the side in Flask Walk, is one of the best loved, due mainly to its wide selection and short delivery times. It won’t be hard to spot: if not for its creeping display, which normally covers large areas of the pavement, then for its glossy black-lacquered exterior and proud storefront. The florist opened in the 1940s, and the experienced team are happy to rustle up a bouquet at a moment’s notice, and, most importantly, to work to any budget (a rarity nowadays in Hampstead’s upscale environs).

    Address: Galton Flowers, 13 Flask Walk, London NW3 1HJ


    Telephone: +44 20 7435 3661


    Website: galtonflowers.com

  • The ultimate guide to Hampstead

    Keith Fawkes

    Best for: unearthing treasure

    Part bookshop, part bric-a-brac tardis, Keith Fawkes has managed to sustain its client base mainly through word of mouth, with eagle-eyed visitors queuing up before the shop opens to grab the best bargains. While the interior is now brimming to the rafters with books to the extent that a satisfactory tour is now off the cards, peering in and perusing literature from piles within the entrance’s immediate perimeter is still achievable – and the overall experience is much more thrilling than a trip to one of the more lofty and well-organised competitors in the area. Outside, flowing across the cobbled pavement on a variety of three-legged stools and wooden trestles, is a surprisingly well-curated selection of antiques and objets d’art that are alluringly cheap and are therefore snapped up with enthusiastic speed. Arrive early, pay fairly, and don’t expect bubble wrap or exact change.

    Address: Keith Fawkes, 5 Flask Walk, London NW3 1HJ


    Telephone: +44 20 7435 0614

    What to do in Hampstead

  • The ultimate guide to Hampstead

    Visit the heath

    A guide to Hampstead wouldn’t be complete without referencing the village’s most iconic site and one of the best parks in London. While the open space is wholly oversubscribed during the summer months, autumn brings with it different ways to make the most of one of the capital city’s biggest and best green spaces. Two of its swimming ponds (the separate mens’ and women’s ponds further away from the station), are open all year round, and can still be worth a splash until mid-October. For those who aren’t seasoned swimmers (with a desire to submerge in sub-zero waters), the heath is home to one of the best walks in London; take the path starting at Parliament Hill Cafe and wander across the eastern part of the heath to Kenwood House, ending up at Spaniards Inn for a well-earned pint.

    Track down some notable historic homes


    Taking time to visit the houses of the great minds and creative thinkers who once called this leafy suburb home is a Hampstead activity that shouldn’t be missed. The big hitters include painter John Constable on Well Walk and writer Aldous Huxley in Bracknell Gardens,. but there are plenty of plaques to unearth, so it’s a good idea to take a few hours to weave through the streets in search of the little blue beacons.

    Take time to learn the history of psychoanalysis

    The Freud Museum in Maresfield Gardens is dedicated to Sigmund Freud, who lived at the house with his family during the final year of his life. See his iconic couch, peer through his personal library (with more than 1,600 books) and cast an eye over a collection of antiquities including treasures from a variety of trips across the Atlantic.

    Address: The Freud Museum, 20 Maresfield Gardens, London NW3 5SX


    Telephone: + 44 20 7435 2002


    Website: freud.org.uk

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Scroll down to see more pictures from our Hampstead guide…

  • The ultimate guide to Hampstead

    The Flask

  • The ultimate guide to Hampstead

    Ganton Flowers

  • The ultimate guide to Hampstead

    The Holly Bush

  • The ultimate guide to Hampstead

    Maud and Mabel

  • The ultimate guide to Hampstead

    Melrose and Morgan

  • The ultimate guide to Hampstead

    Hampstead heath