West Hampstead grew up as a small village, surrounded by farmland. With the arrival of the railway in the late 19th century, much of the farmland was converted into housing, and the name was changed from West End to West Hampstead – to avoid confusion with the area of central London known as the West End. The village feel is still very much a part of modern West Hampstead life; indeed, one of the big draws for local residents is the sense of community. South Hampstead lies between West End Lane, Belsize Road, Finchley Road and Broadhurst Gardens.
The area consists of substantial redbrick semi-detached houses, handsome Edwardian mansion blocks, tall Victorian terraces, and a mix of luxurious developments of modern apartments.
The smartest streets tend to border Hampstead ‘proper’ where large detached houses, some with up to seven bedrooms, can be found. The most desirable addresses include the leafy Crediton Hill, the hugely popular ‘Greek Roads’, or the highly regarded Aberdare Gardens and Goldhurst Terrace.
Particularly famous for its high concentration of celebrity residents, Matt Lucas, Stephen Fry and Angela Griffin have all called this trendy borough home.
One of the greatest charms of this area is that the high street hasn’t yet been taken over by the big chains – there are still plenty of independent restaurants, bars and shops to encourage visitors to return, and local residents to stay put.
For pre-school and preparatory school age children, the Little Ark Montessori Nursery, South Hampstead Junior School, Broadhurst School and The Mulberry House School all offer excellent options, and the highly recommended Emmanuel Church of England Primary School, takes children up to the age of 11.
West Hampstead has not one, but three stations: West Hampstead underground, on the Jubilee line; West Hampstead overground, with routes spanning from Richmond, through Highbury and Islington, to Stratford; and West Hampstead Thameslink, offering direct connections to the city. There are also numerous bus routes in and out of the area, making it extremely well connected. South Hampstead hosts its own London overground railway station, and Swiss Cottage and Finchley Road underground stations are nearby.
The recording studio situated on Broadhurst Gardens in West Hampstead saw David Bowie and The Rolling Stones record early albums, but became infamous as the site of The Beatles’ failed audition with Decca Records.
What the agents say
“South and West Hampstead combine to provide a highly diverse and immensely popular area. There’s something for every taste and budget, from studio apartments starting at around £200,000, to grand houses for several million pounds.” Keith Isaac, associate director, Hamptons International
Eating and drinking:
David’s Deli – don’t miss out on the fresh Italian coffee, homemade bread and delicious dolmades – the perfect start to a lazy day. 341 West End Lane (020 7433 8383)
Yuzu – Healthy-yet-yummy sushi. The restaurant is small and cosy, so it can be difficult to get a table at busy times, but it’s totally worth the wait. 102 Fortune Green Road (020 7431 6602; www.yuzu-restaurants.com)
Bake-a-boo – for all sweet-tooth needs, head here. They serve finger sandwiches, scones and lots of other delicious delights, but the stunning fairy cakes are a favourite. 86 Mill Lane (020 7435 1666; www.bake-a-boo.com)
La Brocca – the attentive staff serve hearty Italian food at really reasonable prices. We’ve had more celebratory dinners and birthday nights out here than we can count. 273 West End Lane (020 7433 1989; www.labrocca.co.uk)
The Gallery – a top bar and the crowd at the weekend is always friendly and lively. Take a tip from us and sample the amazing Bloody Marys. 190 Broadhurst Gardens (020 7625 9184; www.ilovethegallery.com)
Social – a quirky clothes shop with a fantastic mix of modern and retro outfits and accessories. 184 West End Lane (020 7794 5531)
Dizar – the place to go if you’re looking to impress someone; candles, bowls, and kids toys are mixed in with handmade pottery, mirrors and art. They’ll wrap your pressies beautifully for a small fee. 220 West End Lane (020 7435 6230)