Cool things to do in Hampstead
Things to do in Hampstead, as selected for Culture Whisper by Michèle Fajtmann of From My City
But this north-west London village has so many intellectual and artistic connections: the house where Keats wrote his ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ and the Freud Museum, in the house where Freud spent the last year of his life, to name but two. And then there’s the St John-at-Hampstead churchyard, where John Constable and Gerald Du Maurier, actor and father of Daphne du Maurier are buried.
Even though many local shops have disappeared over the years, Hampstead still retains a unique and charming atmosphere, with small boutiques, historic pubs offering good food, exciting theatres and museums. Here is a small selection of some of our favourite venues, from the best cafes Hampstead as to offer, to the
Cool things to do in Hampstead
No 12 Heath Street - Hampstead Antique Emporium
If you collect vintage and antiques, this is a place to hunt for them. Tucked away just behind Heath Street, this little market features many small shops selling jewellery, silverware, glassware, textiles, buttons and ceramics. A recent addition is Maud and Mabel, which stocks ceramics made in Japan and a selection of other items from the UK, Finland and Italy. In front of the Emporium entrance, you will find Tania’s cute coffee van selling excellent coffee.
No 66 Heath Street - L’Antica Pizzeria
A newcomer, this small Italian pizzeria with its Neapolitan-made wood oven is always full, so booking is a must. Their pizzas have been christened with all sorts of famous names; we love the Gabrielle D’Annunzio, made simply with mozzarella di bufala and fresh tomatoes and the Giovanni Pascoli , with burrata and bresaola.
No 5 Holly Bush Vale - Everyman Cinema
This is the very first member of the Everyman group of cinemas, founded in 2000 in a building which has been a cinema since 1933 (formerly, it was first used as the Hampstead Drill Hall and Assembly Rooms and was then transformed into a theatre in the 20s).
It’s a second home for many locals, because you can watch your film comfortably from a sofa while sipping a drink.
No 1-3 Flask Walk - Keith Fawkes
This second-hand bookshop is situated on the pedestrianised end of lovely Flask Walk, where the classic Victorian pub The Flask is located. This is the place where we found little treasures such as Berlioz’ Memories in French as well as an old edition of Dostoyevsky’s Letters from the Underworld. They have great art books as well. In the front of the shop, on most of the days there is a stall selling antiques and other curiosities.
No 2 Willow Road - Goldfinger House
This unique modernist house was designed in 1939 by the famous architect of Trellick Tower in North Kensington Ernö Goldfinger. The Hungarian-born architect built this house for himself and his family and it is now managed by the National Trust. It contains a stunning collection of modern art including works by Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst and Henry Moore.
Eton Avenue - Hampstead Theatre
If you walk towards Swiss Cottage tube station, you’ll find the Hampstead Theatre. Founded in 1959, this theatre was used by Harold Pinter to test many of his plays in front of the local audience. In 2003, it relocated to a new building with a larger, 325-seat theatre.
Hampstead Downstairs, in the same venue, is an exciting intimate studio space committed to new writing with unreserved seating for 80 people. Many sell-out Hampstead Theatre productions go on to transfer to the West End, including, recently, Neil Armfield's production of The Judas Kiss, starring Rupert Everett and Good People, starring Imelda Staunton.
Arkwright Road (off Finchley Road) - Camden Arts Centre
Located in a Grade II listed building on the corner of Finchley Road and Arkwright Road, this contemporary art and education venue dates from 1965. It includes a very good specialist art bookshop selling many art-related magazines and a nice café with tables in the little garden. In October 2014, the Centre will present an exhibition of new work by American artist Glenn Ligon, his first solo show in a UK public gallery.
Our tip for the best Hampstead café
No 32 Heath Street - Louis Patisserie
Probably the most authentic Eastern European old-fashioned tearoom you can get in London, this Hungarian tearoom is a real Hampstead institution. Sit down to have a cup of tea, and a waitress will bring you a tray of cakes to choose from. Go for the plain cheesecake, it is the best.
No 4a-5a Perrins Court - Ginger & White
This venue located in one of the pedestrian streets so typical of Hampstead offers delicious coffee using beans hand roasted by Square Mile Coffee Roasters in East London. Go for the pistachio loaf or chocolate brownie. They also offer gluten-free cakes and a lunch menu with salads of the day. If you can’t find a seat outside, choose the communal table where you’ll sit amongst Hampstead freelancers with their laptops.
Michèle Fajtmann was born in Belgium and has lived in Brussels, New York, Warsaw and London. She is a lawyer and founder of From My City, a boutique event management and advisory company that creates unique tailor-made networking experiences and events focusing on arts and culture. ‘London is ever-changing,' says Michèle, 'and it is fascinating to explore neighbourhoods that are going through rapid change. As city “curators”, we often get inspired by the unexpected and would love to give others the chance to be as excited as we are by these discoveries. Most of our events are guided or animated by creative experts (writers, artists, musicians, etc.). For details of the discovery tours offered or for any enquiries, go to www.frommycity.com.’