LONDON: The Park is surrounded by shops, pubs, cafés, restaurants and houses more exclusive than many other areas. Here in Hampstead Heath, North London, it is possible to move around and for a moment forget you actually are in the middle of a big city. The park with hills, ponds and most importantly lot of space where you can swim, fish, walk, play sport and by all means enjoy a breathtaking view from the top of Parliament Hill.
The area around the park is among the most expensive residential area in North London, and rarely discovered by tourists, although”Heath” is only six kilometres from Trafalgar Square.
In this area you find only one hotel chain and several smaller bed and breakfast accommodations. La Gaffe is a typical village hotel with 30 comfortable rooms, wine bar and Italian restaurant. Premier Inn is larger and located in BelsizePark, one stop away on the Northern Line.
Parliament Hill has open space and the highest peak with great views over the capital all the way to St Pauls and LondonCity. An uncertain but romantic explanation of the name is that it was here the followers of Guy Fawkes, the man with the attempt to blow up the Parliament, gathered in November 1605 to get the best view of the big explosion that never came. However, it is more likely that the name is related to the placement of weapons here during a civil war 40 years later.
Swimming in the park
The British like to swim even though the temperature in water and air is low. There is one pond for women, one for men and one for both sexes. At the Women’s cell phone and radio are banned. The British dive into the water from early spring to late fall, but ponds are most popular in the summer. It is also possible to fish and Lido has an outdoor swimming pool.
Tour with a guide
First Sunday of each month you can meet up and join a guided tour of Hampstead Heath. This is a walk essential for those interested in stories related to the park and is no more difficult than the well children can make the tour. Wear good shoes and show up 10:30 at Burgh House, New End Square, located in HampsteadVillage.
Out for Lunch
Once outside the tube station on the Northern Line you notice restaurants, cafes and shops alongside the main street and in the many narrow alleys. And when you’ve found the restaurant, you will certainly observe that guests consisting of women in majority, women living in beautiful villas and having lunch the day’s highlight. Flask Walk is full of small shops and there is also The Flask, a popular pub. At the corner of Flask Walk and Main Street you walk into Paul, a French bakery.
The local fashion
The women in the area, especially among the celebrities, walk the streets with style that aims to dress down, just to show they are not rich and famous. This style goes by the name NW3 – fashion named after the postcode. But the Main Street and narrow alleys have profiled brands. Nicole Farhi has eight stores in London, including one for 27 Hampstead High Street. The designer lives in the neighbourhood. For even more shops and markets CamdenTown is the solution, just three stops away. Here the night life is so hectic that even late Amy Winehouse was satisfied.
Eat with locals
As Hampstead is not a tourist area, you meet mainly locals in bars, cafes and restaurants. It also includes politicians, television personalities, retired pop stars, writers, artists and Arsenal players. The Gaucho Grill has South American specialties served both in the bar and on the terrace with a. Live music on Sundays.
Kenwood House is located in the north end of the park. Once this magnificent building was privately owned. Today a museum and monument of the old era with walls full of paintings made by masters such as Turner and Vermeer and a self-portrait of Rembrandt. Just behind the building there is a cafeteria. In summer there are concerts the park.
Here to stay
La Gaffe is family run. From the start this was a restaurant, but the operation was quickly extended to the hotel. Price for a double room start at £ 89, including breakfast. www.lagaffe.co.uk
Premier Inn, 215 Haverstock Hill, London NW3. Restaurant. Top Tube: Belsize Park, Northern Line . www.premierinn.com
Places to eat
Try some steps away from the main street. For fresh bread, pastries, coffee and delicious vegetarian dishes, try Melrose and Morgan at Oriel Place. Close at 7pm on weekdays. www.melroseandmorgan.com
The Flask, 14 Flask Walk, in a Victorian building. A pub for lunch and dinner with affordable prices. Mains from 10 to 20 pounds. Varieties of beer. Loved by locals. www.theflaskhampstead.co.uk
The Spaniards Inn Hampstead, Spaniards Road, NW3. Serves seasonal pub food. Large garden . www.thespaniardshampstead.co.uk
La Cage Imaginaire, 16 Flask Walk. A small French inspired restaurant with food that is comparable to far more expensive places. Two course lunch 13 pund, at night mains start at 14 pund. Recommended to reserve. www.la-cage-imaginaire.co.uk
Gaucho Grill, 64 Heath Street. The menu is huge – from oysters to great Argentine steaks. www.gauchorestaurants.co.uk