Down to earth, with a vibrant, villagey feel, Belsize Park is not quite as swanky as neighbouring Hampstead, but it is no less popular. For those seeking refuge from city stresses, some of the most famous parks in London are within easy walking distance – including Primrose Hill, Regent’s Park and Hampstead Heath.
The area was bombed during World War II so there is a variety of architecture ranging from classic white stucco-fronted Victorian houses to mews houses dating from the 1850s up to the 1990s.
Belsize Park Gardens, Belsize Avenue and Belsize Crescent, which all lead off from the village square, are highly desirable with large Victorian family houses.
You might spot locals Sean Bean or Fiona Bruce nipping into the deli for a pint of milk or Arsenal footballer Emmanuel Adebayor, who lives just round the corner.
Belsize Park’s array of bars, cafes and restaurants ranging from pan-Asian, Italian and Indian to Turkish cuisine attract an eclectic mix of customers, and there are two convenient shopping streets – Haverstock Hill and Belsize Village. You can even enjoy the latest arthouse film at Everyman Cinema on Haverstock Hill.
Top fee-paying primary schools are two-a-penny in NW3. The Hall School for boys is nearby or The Rosary RC Primary School on Haverstock Hill has a good reputation as a state school.
Choose from Belsize Park station on Haverstock Hill or Swiss Cottage. Belsize Park is one of eight London Underground stations which has a deep-level air-raid shelter underneath it.
The name is derived from French bel assis meaning ‘well situated’.
What the agents say
“Prices remain buoyant in this charming area, with its independent shops and community atmosphere. People come to Belsize Park for more space; it’s not as congested as Hampstead.” David Stern, director at Parkheath
Eating and drinking:
Artigiano – my favourite local restaurant: the staff are fabulous and the food heavenly. If you order just one thing from the menu make it the stuffed courgette flower, which is very special. 12a Belsize Terrace (020 7794 4288; www.etruscarestaurants.com)
XO – Follow your meal with cocktails here – we can’t choose a favourite, they’re all amazing. 29 Belsize Lane (020 7433 0888; www.rickerrestaurants.co.uk)
The Everyman Cinema – film buffs will love this place, which used to be The Screen on Hill. It’s so nice to drink wine and eat brownies whilst watching a movie on the big screen, sitting in a comfy armchair. 203 Haverstock Hill (020 3145 0520; www.everymancinema.com)
Crescent Fruiterers – First port of call for fresh fruit and veg. I get my flowers here too. 62 Belsize Lane (020 7435 9444)
Budgens – They have a lovely fish counter and a great cheese selection; you can always find all of the ingredients for our evening meal in here. 199-205 Haverstock Hill (020 7794 0163; www.budgens.co.uk)
Belsize Village Delicatessen – in the summer, stock up on picnic goods here, and head to the Heath, or Primrose Hill, to scoff the lot. In the winter it’s great for ready-made meals, try the lasagna or cannelloni – made freshly on the premises. 39 Belsize Lane (020 7794 4258)
The Mastercleaners – For a good reliable dry cleaner, these guys do a lot of theatre and stage stuff so they are used to cleaning very delicate pieces. The staff always ask the right questions and are not afraid to say no if they don’t think they can do a good job. 189 Haverstock Hill (020 7431 3725; www.themastercleaners.com)
Shades Tanning and Beauty – if you don’t have time to go into town, book a last minute appointment here – they do a great mani and pedi. 74 Belsize Lane (020 7431 4433)