Attracted by the relax atmosphere of this former spa town, many are coming in Hampstead during the weekend for the beauty of the Hampstead Heath. This village of North West London (3 stops from Camden town) has also so many intellectual and artistic connections: the Keats house where Keats wrote his “Ode to a Nightingale”, the Freud Museum where Freud spent the last year of his life, the St John-at-Hampstead churchyard where painter John Constable currently celebrated at the V&A and Gerald du Maurier, actor and father of Daphne du Maurier are buried. Even though many local shops have disappeared over the years, Hampstead still retains a unique and charming ambience with small boutiques, historic pubs offering good food, exciting theatres and museums. Here is a small selection of some of our favorite venues.
12 Heath street
If you collect vintage and antiques, this is a place to hunt. Tucked away just behind Heath Street, this little hidden gallery features many small shops selling jewelry, silverware, glassware, textiles, buttons and ceramics. A recent addition is Maud and Mabel selling pure line ceramics made in Japan and a selection of other items from the UK, Finland and Italy. In front of the Emporium entrance, you will find Tania’s cute coffee van selling excellent coffee.
32 Heath street
Probably the most authentic Eastern European old-fashioned tearoom you can get in London (featured picture). This Hungarian tearoom is a real Hampstead institution. If you sit there for a tea, a waitress will bring you a tray of cakes to choose from. Go for the plain cheesecake, it is the best.
66 Heath street
A newcomer, this small Italian pizzeria with its Neapolitan made wood oven is always full. Booking is a must. Pizzas have all sorts of famous names. We love the Gabrielle D’Annunzio simply with mozzarella di bufala and fresh tomatoes and the Giovanni Pascoli with burrata and bresaola.
5 Holly Bush Vale
The first original cinema of the Everyman group since its creation in 2000. This independent cinema exists since 1933 in a building that was first used as the Hampstead Drill Hall and Assembly Rooms and then transformed into a theatre in the 20s. This is a real second home for many locals as you can sit comfortably on a sofa while sipping your favorite drink.
4a-5a Perrins Court
This venue located in one of the pedestrian streets so typical of Hampstead offers delicious coffee using beans hand roasted by Square Mile Coffee Roasters in East London. Go for the pistachio loaf or chocolate brownie. They also offer gluten free cakes and a lunch menu with salads of the day. If you can’t find a seat outside, choose the communal table where you’ll sit amongst Hampstead freelancers hanging around in the neighborhood with their laptops.
1-3 Flask Walk
This second-hand bookshop is situated on the pedestrianised end of the lovely Flask Walk street where the classic Victorian pub The Flask is located. This is the place where we found little treasures such as Berlioz’ Memories in French as well as an old version of Dostoyevsky,’s Letters of the underworld . They have great art books as well. In the front of the shop, most of the days there is a stall selling antiques and other curiosities.
2 Willow road
A few minutes from Keats House, a visit of this unique modernist house designed in 1939 by the famous architect Ernö Goldfinger who created the Trellick Tower in North Kensington is worth making a detour. The Hungarian born architect built this house for himself and his family. It is now managed by the National Trust and contains a stunning collection of modern art including works by Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst and Henry Moore.
If you walk towards Swiss Cottage tube station, you’ll find the Hampstead theatre. In the neighborhood since 1959, this theatre was used by Harold Pinter to test many of his plays in front of the local audience. In 2003, it relocated in a new building containing a main 325-seat theatre. Hampstead Downstairs in the same venue is also a very exciting intimate studio theatre committed to new writing with unreserved seating for 80 people. Recently, many sell-out Hampstead Theatre productions transferred to the West end such as Neil Armfield’s production of The Judas Kiss starring Rupert Everett and Good People, starring Imelda Staunton.
Arkwright Road (off Finchley road)
Located in a Grade II listed building on the corner of Finchley road and Arkwright road, this contemporary art and education venue dates from 1965. It includes a very good specialist art bookshop selling also many art related magazines and a nice café with tables in the little garden.The Centre currently presents an exhibition of new work by American artist Glenn Ligon, his first solo show in a UK public gallery.
featured image: Louis Patisserie, photo by Vincent Halleux