Hampstead & Golders Green
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Hampstead is a pleasant and popular hilltop hideaway in north London in the borough of Camden. This village-like neighbourhood has a strong community atmosphere and plenty of shops, boutiques, tea-rooms, pubs and some spectacular architecture. Famous for it’s intellectual and artistic associations and for the large hilly open space known affectionately as The Heath, this area has some of the most expensive and sought after housing in London. The name is derived from the old Anglo-Saxon word for homestead.
Hampstead Heath is London’s oldest parkland and it is impressive. The fabulous vista that you see of the London skyline from Parliament Hill is breathtaking and this view is legally protected! This huge open space is one that Londoners and visitors enjoy exploring, whilst walking the meadows and woodlands. There are three swimming ponds, a small zoo and plenty of cultural activities to enjoy in the summer such as concerts, book and poetry readings below Kenwood House and fun fairs for the little one’s.
Hampstead Village has loads of restaurants, cafe’s, olde traditional pubs and it is an enjoyable place to wander around, do a spot of shopping and find somewhere to have lunch or a drink. Enjoy the charm of the village and the High Street here has no less than 18 graded listed buildings! You will find a few speciality shops and some grand historic houses, as well as good repertory theatre. The Everyman is an excellent arthouse cinema.
Hampstead is well known for it’s traditional pubs and many of them have quite a history. The Spaniard’s Inn dates back to 1585. That notorious highwayman Dick Turpin frequented this inn, and is said to haunt it still. It gets a mention in Dicken’s The Pickwick Papers and Bram Stoker’s Dracula! The Old Bull and Bush is another good choice, as is the Holly Bush which was gas-lit until not so long ago…
Visit some wonderful museums which were once the homes of local residents such as John Keats and Sigmund Freud. The poet Keats composed Ode to a Nightingale whilst sitting in the Spaniard’s Inn listening to the birds singing on the nearby Heath and Keats House is worth a visit. The Freud Museum is a fascinating blend of domesticity and professionalism and Dr Freud’s study sits pretty much as he left it, complete with his psychiatric couch! Kenwood House which sits right by The Heath is a lovely Regency building which some visitors may recognise from several films and tv series. It has recently been restored and the gardens of the house are lovely. There is some masterful artwork displayed inside with paintings displayed by Turner, Rembrandt and Vermeer. Entrance is free.
Hampstead is quick and easy to get to with several stations to use. Hampstead Underground is on the Northern Line in Zone 2, and West Hampstead on the Jubilee Line. Hampstead Heath and Gospel Oak are on the London Overground Line and both of these are convenient stops for the Heath. Camden Town with it’s live music, nightlife and famous market is close by, as is Highgate with it’s splendid cemetery and pretty Primrose Hill with it’s trendy cafes. From the southern part of Hampstead you can walk easily to Oxford Street and the West End through the wonderful Regent’s Park.
Golders Green is a leafy residential suburban neighbourhood in North London in the borough of Barnet. It lies around 9 km from Charing Cross and has a pleasant village feel to it with a lively cosmopolitan mix of residents greatly adding to the areas charm and versatility. The busy main shopping road, Golders Green Road, has butchers, bakers, deli’s, cafes and restaurants. The well loved Bloom’s Restaurant which served excellent Jewish fare sadly closed in 2010. It was infamous for it’s poor service and grumpy waiters.
The area has a great selection of restaurants with various international cuisines. Here you will find everything from Kosher food catering for the large local Jewish population, to Indian, Thai, Japanese, Korean and Italian restaurants. There are a few supermarkets that cater for the various ethnic groups that live here, including one with Malaysian produce.
Golders Hill Park adjoins the west heath section of the famous Hampstead Heath. This is a formal park which has a small zoo, a walled garden, duck ponds and a café. Children’s entertainment and activities are organised here in the summer, with live music being played on the bandstand. The Golders Green Crematorium is nearby and has a large garden and a pond. It is well known for the many famous people who were cremated here, including T.S. Eliot, Amy Winehouse, Marc Bolan and Sigmund Freud.
Pretty residential streets are to be found behind the main roads here. Temple Fortune boasts a Waitrose, Marks and Spencer and many smart boutiques and café’s. Hampstead Garden Suburb, which locals know simply as The Suburb lies east of Temple Fortune and is a fine example of early 20th century domestic architecture and town planning. It has lovely wide streets and many of the houses are separated by hedges. You can understand why holiday apartments London are popular in this area.
Golders Green Underground is on the Northern Line in Zone 3. There is a large bus station on the station’s forecourt which is a major north London transport hub where National Express Coaches stop. You have quick access to the centre of London from here, and also to the many interesting neighbouring areas close by that are worth a visit. They include Finchley with it’s own selection of restaurants and café’s, to Hampstead with the huge and wonderful Heath to explore and Camden with it’s world famous market and live music scene.