Hampstead has long been known for its ridiculously gorgeous hilltop views and array of greenery to make other bits of London, well, green with envy. The jewel in the crown is, of course, Hampstead Heath’s 790 acres of woodland, playing fields, swimming ponds and meadows, with Parliament Hill providing some truly spectacular views across the city. But as well as wonderful options for outdoors, Hammersmith also boasts incredible historical buildings, independent shops, cool cafes and some superb restaurants and pubs.
If you think we’ve missed an essential Hampstead gem, let us know in the comments section below.
Restaurants in Hampstead
Sirous Tapas Bar & Restaurant
Previously Sirous, then El Rocio, and now Sirous again, this West Hampstead tapas bar and restaurant brings a slice of Spain to West End Lane. Expect imported iberian produce and dishes ranging from chorizo, barbecued chicken wings and patatas bravas to paellas, mixed grills and charcuterie platters. A short wine list is all sourced from Spain, and served alongside classic cocktails such as mojitos, daiquiris, espresso martinis and margarita, A short wine list is all sourced from Spain, and served alongside classic cocktails such as mojitos, daiquiris, espresso martinis and margaritas. Spanish brandies and a selection of bottled beers also feature.
Two years ago Kenwood House was looking distinctly down at heel. The long, creamy south facade was flaking and the roof was in poor repair. The wonderfully situated house (the estate adjoins Hampstead Heath) – which was transformed by celebrated architect Robert Adam between 1764 and 1779 to become a neoclassical villa suitable for William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield – had become shabby. Which was alarming – because the place is ours. Shortly after World War I, the 6th Earl came extremely close to flogging off Kenwood to developers. The plots were already pegged out when the brewing magnate Edward Cecil Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh, bought the estate. He never lived there, but left the estate to the nation, along with a superb collection of 63 Old Master paintings, acquired during a remarkably astute four-year spending spree between 1897 and 1891. Fortunately, English Heritage, the twenty-first-century custodians of Kenwood, had things in hand and the past 18 months have witnessed a transformation, made possible by a £3.9m Heritage Lottery fund and private donations. The impetus for the project was the need to preserve the fabric of the building and protect its internationally important collections, which include masterpieces by Gainsborough, Reynolds, Turner and Rembrandt. But with the house closed and most of the major works despatched to the US for a touring exhibition, there was a rare opportunity to revamp the ground-floor rooms in sympathy with the first Earl o
Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds
Originally dammed-off clay pits, the ponds are run by the City of London Corporation. It is consulting with local residents about essential works to protect against flooding, which – though unlikely – could be catastrophic if a large quantity of rain fell over an extended period. In the meantime, the three pools remain open to ladies, men and mixed groups (including accompanied children aged eight-15, at the lifeguards’ discretion) respectively. The Men’s and Ladies’ Ponds are open all year round but to use the Mixed Pond in the winter season you must join the Hampstead Heath Winter Swimming Club. Even in the summer the water is chilly. Take a dip at more of London's lidos and public swimming pools
Keats House was the home of the Romantic poet from 1818 to 1820, when he left for Rome in the hope of alleviating his tuberculosis (he died of the disease the next year, aged 25). The interior of Keats was sensitively restoredand reopened in 2009; the refurbishment reflects the original decoration of the property, creating a living space that Keats would have recognised and providing an authentic example of Regency style. As well as mooching through the rooms, you can attend events and talks in the poetry reading room and see a display on Keats's sweetheart, Fanny Brawne, who lived next door. The love affair was recently the subject of well-received movie 'Bright Star' (2009), directed by Jane Campion, and a selection of costumes from the film can be seen in the house, alongside the engagement ring given by Keats to Brawne. The garden, where the poet composed 'Ode to a Nightingale', is a particularly pretty spot.