WHY LIVE HERE?
Hampstead has long been known for its liberal, intellectual, artistic, literary and musical associations – and for the mind-blowingly massive heath that is London’s largest ancient parkland.
These days, it is also known for its immaculate houses and their hefty price tags. Whether you are after a grand Georgian villa, a pretty Victorian terrace or an enchanting little cottage, Hampstead has perfectly preserved examples of the lot. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the “village” contains more millionaires within its boundaries than any other area in the UK.
Because of the intelligentsia that gathered there in the 19th century, this proud enclave is truly bursting with culture. It is home to the excellent Hampstead Theatre, The Freud Museum, Keats House (where he wrote Ode to a Nightingale) and the stunning Regency gem, Kenwood House. Indeed, Hampstead boasts at least 60 English Heritage blue plaques – which is more than can be found in any other London suburb.
Hampstead is a truly civilised place. A sense of serenity combines there with chic boutiques, cobbled streets, decades of history, excellent transport links and a staggeringly large park.
Toddlers will have a ball at the North London Forest School Nursery, which was developed in line with the Danish theory that an appreciation of the wide natural world helps foster confidence and independence in little people.
There are several attractive options in the area for pre-prep and prep. The coeducational Hampstead Hill School is family-owned, non-selective but academically rigorous, and hugely oversubscribed – put them down at birth or be sorry. Based in the heart of Hampstead in four large Victorian villas, Devonshire House Preparatory School focuses hard on the individual. The Hall School is North London’s leading boys’ prep school. The right child will thrive here – but a boy must be registered for it by his first birthday.
At secondary level, places at South Hampstead High School are highly sought after. This top girls’ school has a vibrant, cosmopolitan feel and excels at sport, drama and music. Liberating and fun, it aims to help girls achieve their headiest ambitions. Meanwhile, boys will flourish at University College School, especially if they are into languages and art. The focus here is on liberal, academic scholarship.
With its leafy, village feel and cultural heritage, Hampstead has always attracted plenty of celebrities. Judi Dench, Harry Styles, Sting and Stephen Fry have all had gorgeous homes in the area.
RESTAURANTS & SHOPS
Hampstead High Street and the roads off it are a shopper’s paradise. High-end favourites like Nicole Farhi and Comptoir des Cotonniers mingle merrily with one-off boutiques such as Cochinechine and the kidswear haven, Blue Baby.
As far as eating out is concerned, Hampstead residents are spoiled for choice. Familiar quality chains – like Gail’s, Aubaine and Cote – abound but memorable meals are to be had at Jin Kichi (Japanese), Kiplings (Indian) and The Flask.