Hampstead is one of the most gorgeous parts of London. Although I am a bit biased because I live there but I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about this Village in the City… and a village in zone 2 which makes it even better as it’s so close to the hustle and bustle of London but feels so far away too!
I was recently given Marco Polo’s Perfect Days in London Guide and I was really hoping that from it I would learn a bit more about the amazing city that I live in and discover some hidden gems that I had not yet found on my wanderings since moving here over a year and a half ago.
As it turns out the guide has a section on Hampstead in it which I was so excited about! Firstly because I’m forever telling people visiting London and people who live in London that they need to visit Hampstead as it’s so beautiful and quaintly British, and secondly, because the guide told me about so many streets and buildings in Hampstead that I had never visited before or understood how much history they held which really excited the history geek in me!
So one Autumn Saturday I took to Hampstead with my camera and Marco Polo Guide to follow its recommended walking route so I could write this blog and give you inspiration to visit Hampstead and some information on where you should head to see the best of what Hampstead has to offer in terms of history, cute streets, beautiful buildings and amazing views!
Firstly, get off the tube at Hampstead Underground Station on the Northern Line. As the guide says, this is London’s deepest tube station at 192 feet/58.5m. Some people will say Covent Garden is the deepest in London but nope, it’s Hampstead so don’t listen to them!
Cross the High Street at the traffic lights and walk down the street a bit until you come to Perrin’s Court Lane on your right. This is a really lovely street as its car free and it has one very instagram-able house along it! See below!
At the end of Perrin’s Court cross over the road at the traffic lights just opposite Tesco Express and then go back on yourself slightly to Church Row on your right. This is one of the streets that I’d never been down before reading the guide and I couldn’t believe what I had been missing! The Guide says that ‘this is one of London’s prettiest streets, with its delightful 18th century homes’, and I have to agree that it’s so pretty, especially this white house below as it’s totally different to the other buildings on the street.
A few meters down is St John’s Church. I didn’t go inside but within the grounds is the tomb of painter John Constable who lived from 1776-1837 and lived in the village for many years. I told you we were going to get historic!
Turn right up Holly Walk, this is another quiet road with a graveyard on one side and 200 year old cottages on the other. Although there are also some very modern and fancy houses up here too!
Towards the end of the street is St Mary’s Church which is a catholic church built by refugees from the French Revolution. Very interesting!
A few houses up is also The Watch House where the newly formed Hampstead Police Force set out on patrol from in the 1830’s!
Turn right and then take the second sharp left in a few meters and you’ll see a sign for The Holly Bush Pub. Cross over the road to the right and the pub is in front of you. This is a very popular pub and rightly so. The guide says it’s 200 years old which is impressive. It’s a really local British pub and does look like a village pub both inside and outside. The food there is really good too!
Head back out onto Holly Bush Hill and in front of you you’ll see some iron gates which are the entrance to Fenton House. This is Hampstead’s oldest mansion – a 17th century merchants house according to the guide. You can go inside when its open to see its Georgian furniture and 17th century needlework. The garden is gorgeous too and free to enter. Apparently the garden has barely changed in 250 years! Standing there for a minute admiring it, I tried to image what it would have been like all those years ago when this really did feel like a rural village!
Continue up Hampstead Grove. On the left and signposted is the Admirals House. I had never been up this street either so it was really interesting to see this building. The guide says that ‘200 years ago, the owner, a retired officer, fired a cannon to celebrate naval victories and he inspired the character Admiral Boom in Mary Poppins’! I don’t know about you but walking past the house of someone who inspired a character in that hugely popular film is pretty cool I think!
Turn right and Heath Street is in front of you, cross over it, walk down a bit and then turn left up Hampstead Square Road. This is one of my favourite little streets that I have walked down many times. I love how small the street is and the barn like door on the right which looks so old and reminds me how small this area once was.
Carry on straight past Christ Church and follow Cannon Place Road to the end and turn right down the hill.
Towards the bottom of the hill on the right is the 1730 Parish Lock up and above is the magistrates house. The Marco Polo Guide says ‘here prisoners were kept in solitary confinement to await their fate’. Being in front of this door really gave me goosebumps and once again reminded me how much has happened in these streets that I live in!
Turn right and then continue to walk straight up Well Road to New End Square and turn left.
At the top of the hill as you look down the narrow road you can just see the Shard in the distance. I love this view because it reminds me just how close the city really is and the contrast between the old buildings of Hampstead and the shiny Shard really moves me!
As you walk down the hill on your left is 300 year old Burgh House. It has a cafe and a cute garden where you can sit outside in front of the house which I would recommend doing if you need a break from walking.
Inside is a small local history museum with information on some of the famous people who lived in Hampstead. The museum is pictured in the guide so it was good to see it in real life too!
After Burgh House turn left and The Wells Tavern will be in front of you. This is another popular Hampstead pub and on the weekend it is full of people sitting outside, it also serves really good food!
At the pub turn right down Christchurch Hill, another Street that I love. Again from the top you can see the shiny buildings of the city in the distance but I also love the row of houses that run down the road.
Keep going straight and then bear right where it joins Willow Road. Just down here is No 2 Willow Road. Now, I had walked past this building more times than I could ever count. I’d looked at it before and thought that it didn’t fit in with the other buildings in the street and it looks a bit ugly. However until I got the guide, what I didn’t know is that this building was built in 1939 as a modernist home and at the time was very futuristic!
I can see this now as I thought it may have been from the 60-70’s so if it was built in the 1930’s it would have looked very modern back then. Unfortunately today it does look slightly unremarkable as the guide says and a bit ugly as I say, but you can go inside during the day to see many of the owners possessions from Modern Art to Furniture. On the weekends this place is always pretty busy so I imagine it’s quite good!
Down the street a bit on the left you’ll start seeing the huge green space that is Hampstead Heath. If you wish to have a walk in the park then I suggest you go from here.
Hampstead Heath is huge but the best place to start and to head to, is Parliament Hill which is a 15 minute walk from Willow Road. You’ll pass the ponds, of which some are swimming ponds during the non-winter months so look out for the crazy people swimming!
You’ll know when you reach Parliament Hill as there’s normally quite a few people admiring the view and I don;t blame them. From here you can see all over London and all of its prominent buildings!
If you have time, from here you can walk North through the fields to Kenwood House, it’s a lovely walk but can be muddy and will take at least an hour, if not more, to walk there and back so come prepared if you want to, or save it for another time if not.
From Hampstead Heath head back to South End Road. There are a number of shops and cafes on this bit of road as well as Hampstead Overground station. Hampstead is also known for its good charity shops of which there are a few along this street so having a look in these is a good idea (because generally the people of Hampstead, as you can probably tell have quite a bit of money and therefore throw nice stuff away.. FYI I’m not in that category!).
Now turn right up Keats Grove and on the left is Keats House. This is a very famous house in Hampstead as John Keats who was a Romantic Poet lived here. Although he died in 1821 at only 25 years old he was and is known as one of the greatest lyric poets in English History.. pretty impressive. Again, you can go inside the house if you wish.
Continue to walk up he road past St John’s Church which was built in 1829 and continue up the street until you get to Hampstead High Street which is the main road.
Turn right and head up the hill, these are lots of nice shops up here too.
Just before the tube station turn right into Flask Walk, this is another beautiful little pedestrian street with a popular antiques shop, a florist, a pub called The Flask Pub and maybe most importantly and most popular, a gelato shop called Oddeno’s. There’s usually a line all year round, especially on the weekend but this just proves how good it is and I can vouch for it too!
From here, head back onto the main road and you’ll be back at the tube station!
I hope you enjoy this walk around Hampstead and having these particular buildings to visit and walk past helps give you a sense of direction on where to walk and also an insight into how old Hampstead is!
As you can tell I love Hampstead and I urge everyone to visit! I wrote the below post a year ago which will give you some other ideas on where to visit, especially for food and drink!
A Guide to the Perfect Day in Hampstead, London. View here!
The Perfect Days in London Spiral Guide by Marco Polo is full of information on London and it includes guided walks around lots of other areas too including Greenwich, Mayfair and The City. You can purchase the guide here. I think it’d be really handy if you’re visiting London from overseas to get your bearings and also learn about the city too. I know I learnt a lot!
*Has this post convinced you to visit Hampstead? Let me know in the comments below or by tweeting me!*
This post is sponsored by Marco Polo Guides however all opinions, thoughts and ramblings are my own and I truly do love and recommend Hampstead!
If you liked this you may like my other London posts: