Hampstead is embarking on route taken by Notting Hill with the release of the film Hampstead, shot and set in this leafy and beautiful North London suburb. So before the area receives a flood of visitors, we delved into the nooks and crannies to bring you where the tourists (and guides) don’t even think about going. A hidden estate and a phone box serving coffee are just a couple of the weird and wonderful undiscovered gems we’ve glanced at.
And if you come across anything even we couldn’t find, give us a shout!
It’s amazing how many visitors to Hampstead Heath are not aware of this magnificent and measured masterpiece of an estate lying just alongside the park. Made into its current form in the late 17th century, Kenwood has been home to a esteemed members of London society including brewer Edward Cecil Guinness, who bequeathed his vast collection of art to the nation. And the art is stunning, with pieced by Gainsborough, Rembrandt and Van Dyjk to name a few.
You may be surprised to find a block of flats amongst our secrets of Hampstead: after all, they appear quite mundane. 2 Willow Road, however, represents a turning point in British post-war architecture and design, and, indeed, politics and British society itself. The flats were designed by Erno Goldfinger, who became so reviled for their new, modernist and radical design that he provided the inspiration for Ian Fleming as the name of James Bond’s nemesis. Hampstead at the time was home to a concentration of radical and politically active thinkers who were willing to experiment during the 20th century.
Unusual coffee spots
Coffee shops are great, but why limit yourself to an actual room? Kape Barako had other ideas, preferring to serve their steaming cups of espresso from a traditional red phone box. The coffee is good, and the location iconic: just make sure you don’t miss it. Another wonderful addition to the area is The Coffee Cup, a Hampstead regular for over 50 years that today serves food in addition to its fantastic drinks.
London has an extensive and internationally renowned theatre scene, with new productions and classics making highly successful runs both here and abroad. It also specialises in local, community theatres, a fantastic example of which is the Tricycle Theatre found in Kilburn. It provided the platform for new, topical and innovative works, including recent one-man shows and thought-provoking performances engaging with immigration. The theatre is going from strength to strength as it looks to expand its facilities over the next few years.