The best bits of Camden
16 reasons to go to Regent’s Park Road, NW1
You can’t afford to live here, that’s the first thing to know. There won’t be much change out of £5m for a house, but that doesn’t mean you can’t strut around like you own the place. Regent’s Park Road, which stretches across the bottom of Primrose Hill and finishes as Chalk Farm becomes Camden, is a bit famous for its celeb residents – everyone from Sylvia Plath to Gwen Stefani has shacked up round here. It also has a brilliant villagey strip of restaurants and shops to fall in love with. There’s an optician, chemist, Post Office, hairdresser, florist, pet shop and no less than three wine merchants (Bottle Apostle, Nicolas, Bibendum). Pop by for dinner, then walk to the top of Primrose Hill and marvel at the stunning view of the whole city. London doesn’t get much more romantic. The village vibe even comes with a charming local legend. For decades, a pink-painted house at number 60 had a rocking horse in the downstairs window and urban myth held that it was a condition of sale to keep it on display. Owners in the ’90s sold the gaff to Stanley (dad of Boris) Johnson but took the beloved wooden landmark with them. Johnson had another made but did the same when he sold up. The current owners don’t have a horse in the window, but they still get Valentine’s and Christmas cards addressed to the nag. Aww. Eat this A post shared by Odettes Restaurant (@odettesrestaurant) on Jul 23, 2016 at 3:25am PDT The crisp chicken wing and curried cauli at Odette’s. Finish off
You know you live in Camden when...
Camden is one of the most famous cultural melting pots of the capital. Anyone is welcome, you can eat like a king for a fiver and bump into the latest super band in the local pub. Here are six more things you'll know if you live in Camden. You can't move anywhere. With Camden Market being the fourth most visited tourist attraction in the country, there’s certainly no shortage of bodies. The negative of that is a frustrating elbow fight to walk down your own high street everyday, but... ...You have an escape route (also known as the canal). It runs straight through the heart of the market sandwiching it between the painfully trendy Primrose Hill with the uber cool Kings Cross and is an awesome place to while away an hour or so, watching the barges go by. You occasionally smell of incense (and chicken chow mein). No matter how hard Camden tries to smarten up its act, there will always be an endearing shabbiness about the area. It's messy, chaotic and you will find food stalls next to fashion retailers, tainting that Friday night outfit. You forget what silence sounds like. Whether it’s sweaty mosh pits at local dives or the VIP area at the Roundhouse, Camden's music scene reigns supreme. You can even expect chart-worthy singers busking outside the tube station. You're in a pub every day. And these are real, proper, bloody cool pubs, too. There's The Dublin Castle, The Hawley Arms, Barfly and The Good Mixer – and they have their fair share of rock 'n’ roll stories.
What was once a treasure trove of fashionable bargains and unusual gifts is now mainly variations on an 'I heart London' theme, but Camden's markets are still worth shopping in if you know where to look. The section nearest the station (on the east side of the high street) is home to endless printed hoodies and cheap cotton dresses. The Lock Market hosts the best food stalls and some crafts and gifts. North of the canal is a maze of Stables Market, which was spruced up in the late naughties. Avoid its front of cheap Chinese food and hunt down the corner of vintage clothes and antiques stalls and Camden's emporium of neon clubwear, Cyberdog.
Regent's Park is one of London's most popular open spaces, covering 410 acres in north-west London. Originally a hunting ground for Henry VIII, it remained a royals-only retreat long after it was formally designed by John Nash in 1811; only in 1845 did it open to the public as a spectacular shared space. Attractions run from the animal odours and noises of London Zoo to the enchanting Open Air Theatre. Various food and music festivals pitch up here over the summer and rowing boat hire, bandstands, beautiful rose gardens (with some 30,000 roses and 400 varieties), tennis courts, ice-cream stands and eateries (including the delightful Garden Café) complete the picture. Regent’s Park has several playgrounds, but the most interesting is at Hanover Gate where, in 2010, a timber treehouse area for older kids was built within a large sandpit next to the boating lake and existing playground. Visit more of London's biggest and best parks
Clubs in Camden
As a place that revolves around music, Camden is unsurprisingly home to some of the most renowned clubs in the capital. Koko has had a long history as a famous venue, but it is now known as a premier indie club. Electric Ballroom has played host to some of the biggest names in music before they were stars. So get ready for a great night out, as we show you the best places to go clubbing in Camden.
Live music in Camden
Camden Town has more than its fair share of iconic music venues. Up near Chalk Farm station, The Roundhouse has hosted Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix, and Koko (formerly Camden Palace) was the home of Britpop. But these days the best gigs in Camden tend to happen on small pub stages, at places like The Barfly, where up-and-coming indie bands keep the racket going seven nights a week. Here are the best places to catch gigs in Camden.
Hotels in Camden
Camden Lock Hotel
This small budget option is situated at the Chalk Farm end of Camden, opposite the celebrated Roundhouse – so it’s a good bet if you’re seeing a gig or performance there. The 33 en suite rooms are basically furnished, with cream walls, plain white bed linen and flat screen TVs; bathrooms have complimentary toiletries. You won’t find much in the way of design inspiration here, but if you’re after a simple and clean budget room in Camden with free wifi and a café (the Coffee Lounge) serving breakfast, this is worth considering.
St Christopher's Inn Camden
This Camden Town hostel, above the grungy Belushi’s bar on Camden High Street, is known for its friendly staff and young party vibe. It’s not a chic option – with bunk-style beds, scuffed wooden floors and basic shared bathrooms – but it offers up the standard backpacker-hostel facilities (free wifi, lockers and complimentary breakfast) from a conveniently located space. If you’re in town to enjoy Camden’s renowned nightlife then this might just be your place.
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Created with the aim of bridging the gap between Eastern and Western healthcare, Chinalife is a modern holistic health shop with wooden shelves piled high with a selection of teas, supplements and aromatherapy oils. Stylishly packaged skincare and body ranges feature all-natural active ingredients: some familiar (gingko and ginseng), others, like the anti-ageing reishi or moisture-boosting Chinese angelica, less well known in the West. We particularly like the herbal foot bath, the flower water sprays and the jasmine face mask for dry skin. Tea-lovers are spoilt for choice, with an impressive array of medicinal blends and flower- and berry-filled sachets. A chic tea bar also offers exotic concoctions infused with pomegranate syrup and crushed rosebuds and fragrant, spice-infused lattes. At the shop’s rear, canvas panels suspended from the ceiling create an airy room where a therapist can help you feel right as rain with an energising lifestyle package, where acupuncture and Chinese Meridian massage fulfil their promises. Next door at the AcuMedic clinic, a team of experts from China can offer solutions to just about anything, from infertility through to smoking addiction.