There are so many great areas in the NW postcode that finding what best suits you and your needs can be difficult. We have made this introductory guide to NW3 and its surrounding areas in order to highlight what we think is most special about living in the areas of Hampstead, Belsize Park, Primrose Hill, and St. John’s Wood.
If the city life is sometimes too much for you and you miss all that nature has to offer, then Hampstead is for you. Hampstead is home to Hampstead Heath which has 791 acres of greenery perfect for making you feel like you are far away from the city. Hampstead has stunning architecture, cobbled lanes, fantastic cafes and restaurants, and is truly unique with a deep and rich history.
Every part of Hampstead is special in its own way. For example, “The Crofts” in Hampstead were built by George Hart and the streets Rosecroft, Ferncroft, and Hollycroft were all named after his daughters. They are located at the higher elevations of Hampstead and the topography of this area butts up to the West-heath and has a general slope to the Southwest. The area has large homes designed by famous architects, a nice breeze on hot summer days, and beautiful views. If you are looking for Edwardian houses, the best streets for you are Redington Road and Templewood Avenue.
Hampstead is bordered on the north by Golders Green, on the south by South Hampstead and Primrose Hill, on the east by Highgate, and on the west by West Hampstead. If you are looking to move to West Hampstead, at the heart of the area is West End Lane, a long high street that stretches all the way from Kilburn to Finchley Road.
What NOT to miss out on in Hampstead:
Freud Museum - collection of antiquities and was the home of Sigmund Freud and his family when they escaped Austria following the Nazi annexation in 1938.
Hampstead Ponds Swimming Pools – unwind in the summer (or Winter!) in these historic ponds which had a short documentary made about them in 2019 (BBC coverage)
One of Hampstead’s best kept secrets is the Hill Garden and Pergola. Filled with overgrown flowers, it’s one of the most unique areas in Hampstead. It was originally home to wealthy gardener Lord Leverhulme
Saturday Farmer’s Market at Parliament Hill from 10am-2pm. Its proximity to the Heath means many locals come in before or after jogging or walking the dog. 'Parliament Hill has a strong emphasis on high quality basics rather than the elaborate, often sugary offerings of other markets, which makes them a favourite of mine.' - local
Kenwood house, Keats House Museum, Fenton House, Admirals house, Freud Museum, Burgh House
Kenwood House – Roam the gorgeous gardens and woodlands of the former stately home of the 17th century Kenwood House.
Keats House Museum – Home of England’s most romantic poet, John Keats, until 1922 and is now dedicated to his memory.
Fenton House –Lady Binning purchased the home in 1936 and it is filled with paintings, drawings, and hidden treasures.
Admirals House – A Grade II listed building and the inspiration behind Mary Poppin’s.
Freud Museum – Home of Sigmund Freud where you can look at his thousands of antiques and collections.
Burgh House – The Queen Anne Grade I listed House has over 300 years of history behind it.
Best Schools in Hampstead:
Our neighbours' group chat recently brought up the topic of nurseries and all three of these were highly recommended
Heathside School Hampstead: “Our independent, happy, friendly, and academic school is known among the local community for putting children at the heart of everything we do. The school is set in historic buildings in the heart of Hampstead, a few minutes’ walk from Hampstead Heath, where the children play at lunchtimes.”
Trevor Roberts: “A co-educational day school for pupils aged 5-13 years. Pupils are prepared for examinations at either 11+ (mostly girls) or 13+ Common Entrance into the main London day schools and boarding schools.”
St Christopher’s: “Provides fostering, residential & support for children & young people so they can be safe, happy & achieve their potential.”
The Hall: “Provides exceptional teaching to some of the brightest boys in London to develop in them the skills for a lifetime of learning that will stimulate rewarding, diverse and distinctive lives.”
Sarum Hall School: “A preparatory school for girls in the heart of Belsize Park in Hampstead, north-west London.”
Devonshire House: “A place where families come together for their children’s most formative years. The school’s commitment is to outstanding care and education, to help discover, inspire and develop pupils’ talents and to support them throughout their years at the school and in their move to their next schools.”
Best Upper Schools in Hampstead:
University College School: “A top academic London day-school founded in 1830 and is in Hampstead. It consists of a Pre-Prep, Junior Branch and Senior School."
Highgate School - 91% received grades of A-A* for A-Level results for 2021. Highgate School is a co-educational day school with a history dating back to 1565. It is an independent school for children aged 11 – 18 and has a linked junior school.
Francis Holland Girl’s School: As a leading independent girls’ school, with a long tradition of academic excellence, we see our location, as an integral part of the complete educational experience that instils confidence and ambition into our girls from an early age.
South Hampstead High School Girl’s - ranked #9 in London for GSCE’s where 92% received above A-A*
The American School in London: “An independent, college-preparatory, preK-12 day school, providing an exceptional American education to an international student body in the heart of London.”
Best Restaurants in Hampstead:
Best Italian dinner - Lume Restaurant in Primrose Hill: “Wine shop & market with a snug restaurant turning out elevated Italian dishes & Sardinian vintages.”
Best Vegetarian Restaurant - Manna in Chalk Farm: “Chic, informal dining room serving vegetarian and vegan dishes with organic and vegan wine list.”
Best Greek - Lemonia in Primrose Hill: “Enduring traditional Greek restaurant with a light-filled interior and leafy hanging baskets.”
A KIRE favourite - Cinder: “Cinder is a restaurant with a passion for cooking over fire.”
Best French - La Ferme: “French restaurant featuring classic & modern cooking, with an upstairs Champagne bar.”
Best British - Odette’s in Primrose Hill: “Combining Modern European cuisine and an ample wine list in a romantic setting with a dining garden.”
Best European Kosher restaurant – Tish: “High-end contemporary & classic kosher dishes in a sophisticated setting with large outdoor terrace.”
Best in Belsize Village – Calici; where KIRE hosts their monthly get together
Best Spanish - Jamon Jamon: “Bringing vibrant Spanish culture to the heart of London, Jamon Jamon serves up an array of tasty tapas.”
Best Mediterranean- Retsina; praised by Gordon Ramsay as the best Mediterranean
Best Indian - Hazara in Hampstead: “Regional dishes from around India made with carefully sourced produce in an upmarket setting.”
Best Lebanese - Teta’s: “Teta's Traditional Lebanese restaurant located in Belsize Village. Provides both vegan and vegetarian options.”
Best authentic - 28 Church Row: “Serving up Spanish and Italian inspired dishes, 28 Church Row is situated on the exclusive Church Row in the heart of Hampstead.”
The Armoury Fitness Centre - Hampstead Heath
Belsize Park is tucked between Hampstead and Camden and is the perfect place to live if you are looking for a quieter area. Belsize Park gives access to a wealth of shops, restaurants, bars, cafes, and parks. Belsize Park has three unique shopping areas including England’s Lane, Haverstock Hill (including Steeles Village on the lower side), and Belsize Village. The cobbled mews of Belsize Park form delightful backdrops for stunning properties . It is more spacious than Hampstead Village and Hampstead Heath is a 10 minutes' walk while Primrose Hill Park is 5 minutes' walk from England's Lane. The streets are lined with trees and wide sidewalks. The area is a big attraction for families due to its high concentration of top-rated schools.
If you are looking for a few more restaurants, fitness clubs, hair and nail salons and even furniture stores, England’s Lane is perfect as it is a nice high street with good variety (and not so busy traffic wise).
In Belsize, you must:
Pick up your food essentials from the local stores in Belsize Village, such as Roni's Bakery or meet up with a friend for a meal cooked over fire and kissed by flames at Cinder, and enjoy outside entertainment, al fresco food and drinks in the Belsize Village Square during the summer months.
Visit Swiss Cottage’s farmer’s market Wednesdays from 10am - 3pm
Watch a movie at Everyman Cinema
For more on this area, read:
Primrose Hill is a district of the London Borough Camden. The park at Primrose Hill offers some of the best views of London and it was opened to the public in 1842. The park is busiest during the weekends so visit during the weekdays to avoid the crowds.
In Primrose, you should visit:
The park with breathtaking views of London
Primrose Hill Bakery
The Cowshed Spa (part of the Soho House)
The high street on Regents Park Road
St. John’s Wood (SJW)
St John’s Wood is a great place to live if you are commuting into central London often. It still has a residential feel but is closer to the centre city. The St John’s Wood underground on the Jubilee line provides great access to many different parts of London. It is home to many expats as the American School of London is located here. Abbey road runs through SJW[SP7] and you will see many tourists lining up to take photos in front of the zebra crossing. It is conveniently placed between Regent’s Park, Hyde Park, and Hampstead Heath. Perfect for socialising and meeting new people, SJW has many different clubs and activities to bring people together like the SJW running moms that run together at all paces! St. John’s Wood was formed at the end of the 13th century when the land came into the possession of the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. SJW is filled of both detached and semi-detached homes and is home to many celebrities such as Paul McCartney and actor Damian Lewis.
Don’t miss these activities in SJW:
Recreate the Beatles Abbey Road album cover by walking over the zebra crossing and stop by Abbey Road Studios on your way (but go early if you don’t want to be overrun by tourists)
Watch a match at Lord’s Cricket Ground or take one of their iconic tours
Explore Regent’s Park
Visit the London Zoo
Have a pint or Sunday roast at the Duke of York
Visit Panzer’s for food of all sorts
If you are interested in hearing more about NW3’s history, weekend events, and interviews with influential neighbours and local business owners, follow our Instagram @kire.life for regular updates.