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July 2021 / Area Guides / by Liz Skone James

WEST HAMPSTEAD

For the fiercely loyal residents of this characterful corner of north London, the close-knit community and thriving local high street can’t be beaten. Throw in a pleasing mix of housing stock and three local stations, offering easy access into town, and you might just have the answer to all your property prayers.

Photography by Emmanuelle Peri & Georgia Watson

Meet the locals:

Ruth Hockman, Founder and Creator of Rain On Me UK (ROM) and Ride and Raise

I’ve lived here since 2005 and it has always felt like home thanks to the brilliant sense of community. Whether you’re engaging in a debate about our bridge wall mural by Justice Through Arts, grabbing a drink at The Alice House or tucking into fried chicken at The Gallery, there’s always a local to hang out and have fun with.

I set up Rain on Me to brighten up the landscape with neon and glitter during the first lockdown. The studio and showroom is on Finchley Road, at Uthink Hampstead. Before heading to my dungeon of dreams to crack on with the spray paints, a gossip with fellow artist in residence Lucy Jagger is essential.

Hampstead Cemetery and Fortune Green are my local outdoor calm spaces and have become backdrops for ROM photo shoots. Another favourite spot is Wayne Kirkham Way, which runs next to the railway (it reminds me of a marble run I used to play with circa 1985).

A go to for coffee and pancakes is Have An Avo –  recently, the location for discussions with Rosanna Tucker, owner of immersive fitness studios Studio Society, to plot the next Ride And Raise charity spinathon event. A pavement table pit stop at The Wet Fish Café is also a must. I love watching the local goings on over a bottle of their Sancerre Rosé and a plate of polenta fries. Fridays are for challah and there’s only one place for that – my friends at Roni’s have kept me in rolls, bagels and Tahini for over 16 years.

West End Lane’s charity shops are firm favourites, particularly The Children’s Society and Scope, where I’ve made some incredible finds (from a Max Mara belt to a Donna Karan blazer). I’m a big fan of the ham and cheese croissant from Gail’s, which I treat myself to whilst browsing. The flakes get everywhere, much like the paint from my “designed to weather” raincoats – oops!

Post office trips to either Ann’s Community Shop on Mill Lane or the Sheriff Centre are always a pleasure thanks to the friendly, helpful staff.I’m not a natural blonde: I’ve got Bryn Samuel at Hob Salon to thank for that. And Tran and Queeny at Unique keep my hands and hoofs colourful!

West Hampstead and its people continue to be a huge source of inspiration to me and ROM. It can be noisy and a little chaotic here, but it has character, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

(rainonme.uk; rideandraise.com; @rainonme)

Streethearts: West Hampstead

Crediton Hill
East of West End Lane, the big, beautiful family homes here are in high demand, particularly those backing on to the Cumberland Lawn Tennis Club

Compayne Gardens
The houses here are subject to conservation orders, and it’s easy to see why. The handsome Victorian homes are some of the area’s most desirable

Mill Lane
At the heart of the local community, this may be away from the main drag of West End Lane, but there are independent businesses aplenty here, too

Local Heroes

Dany’s Barber, NW6
We were all guilty of taking local hairdressers and barbers for granted until lockdown hit and had us attempting hilarious home cuts with little success. Indeed, we have a new found appreciation for those who are masters of the clippers. Mark Rees from Parkheath nominates this popular neighbourhood barbers as his local hero, telling us: “They are an excellent long-standing business catering for all local residents and clients. They are friendly, efficient and care about the local community.” 8 Canfield Gardens, NW6 (020 7372 0960; danysbarber.com)

Swing, NW6
For veggies, it’s a luxury knowing you’ve got an entire menu to choose from, but perhaps that only adds to the indecision – especially with fabulously hearty and wholesome fare on offer. Dexters’ Felix Brown hails this vegetarian eatery, located in the heart of West Hampstead, as a real hidden gem. “The restaurant and café creates dishes with Mediterranean and Asian influences,” he says. “It’s known by many for its incredibly friendly staff, it’s a great local business and an absolute must visit. I’d recommend the mac and cheese and the curry cauliflower, both delicious! 77 Mill Lane, NW6 (020 3802 8578; theswing.london)

Euphorium, NW6
For Savills’ Harriet Davies, West Hampstead is foodie heaven, with a great choice of eateries, delis, cafés and of course the bustling farmers’ market that’s open every Saturday. One particular favourite is this enticing bakery and café on West End Lane. “I live in West Hampstead and love it,” she tells us. “Saturday mornings are great for walking down to Euphorium Bakery for a mocha and a pastry.” Choose from a seriously tempting array of cakes, pastries and bread, or sit down for a hearty breakfast or lunch and watch the world go by. 236 West End Lane, NW6 (euphorium.uk.com) 

Say what?

Many musical memories have been made in West Hampstead: Dusty Springfield was born here; Shirley Bassey once owned a record shop on West End Lane; The Beatles were famously rejected after an audition at Decca Studios on Broadhurst Gardens (now home to the English National Opera); and U2 played their first gig outside Ireland at The Moonlight pub (now The Railway).