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North West London can sometimes feel like Beverly Hills with bad weather, due to the multi-million pound properties and groups of celebrity pals sipping smoothies in local delis. But while Hampstead and St John’s Wood are known for their famous residents, beautiful Belsize Park has somehow managed to slip under the radar.
Nestled cosily in the borough of Camden between the well-to-do Primrose Hill and the more alternative Camden Town, you can enjoy the best of both worlds here, and get value for your money. Plus, it's just 3.4 miles away from central London! What are you waiting for?
History of Belsize Park
Photo credit: www.ourcamden.org
The name Belsize Park comes from the French bel assis, meaning 'well-situated'. It appears in records from as far back as the 1300s, as the Manor of Belsize, and by the 18thcentury the estate had grown to include a number of farms and houses alongside the main house. It soon became a popular destination for the gentry and aristocracy to enjoy themselves (including the Prince and Princess of Wales, no less), and was even condemned in the press for ‘lewd behaviour’ and gambling!
As the centre of London spread outwards, Belsize Park developed as a suburb and many beautiful houses were built as wealthy Londoners began to move in. The area was bombed during World War Two and later rebuilt, but is still home to one of London’s only remaining air-raid shelters.
Many parts of the area were owned by Eton College and the architecture will blow you away with beautiful stucco fronted Victorian buildings alongside vibrant tree-lined streets. The area is unsurprisingly chosen as an abode by many-a-rich celebrity and NW3 is one of the most picturesque places to live or visit in the city.
Cost of Renting in Belsize Park
As you would expect in such an exclusive area, property doesn’t come cheap! The vast majority of available properties are now flats in converted Victorian and Georgian buildings, and while it might be possible to find good value for money, the average rent in this area is nearly £3,500pcm. If you’re on a strict budget, it might be best to widen your search area to include Chalk Farm and Swiss Cottage too.
Belsize Park comes at premium and is highly sought-after by celebrities and people with money, which adds to the price. Most of the property in Belsize Park is of a Victorian ilk and wide pavements are tree-lined and quaint.
Most expensive two bedroom flat - £10,833 pcm
Least expensive two bedroom flat - £1,500 pcm
Average Council tax - £1,331 per year
Travelling from Belsize Park
The area falls into zone 2 of the London underground system and is served by Belsize Park Underground Station on the Northern Line (that’s the one that is coloured black if you're not familiar!) and the Hampstead and Chalk Farm stations are both located nearby, also on the Northern Line. Hampstead Heath railway station offers an overground service, while the N5 bus offers a 24 hour service to Oxford Circus.
Restaurants in Belsize Park
Upon entering Jamon Jamon it will seem like you've stepped into a quaint restaurant right in the heart of Spain, rather than some that is just a few miles away from central London. It's not just the charming setting that makes this Spanish restaurant so delightful; the Spanish tapas is delicious and their pajella has a reputation for being one of the best around.
Address: 177 Haverstock Hill, London NW3 4QS
Phone no: 020 7483 4242
XO can be found on Belsize Lane, right near Belsize Park Station and is part of the successful Ricker Restaurants chain. XO offers a large menu of Asian-inspired dishes with a Thai/Japanese/Chinese fusion championed by the locals of Belsize! It’s hard to find a bad word about the place online! This is THE restaurant to be seen in. The sleek, colonial vibe will transport you to 1930s Shanghai without even leaving the borough!
Address: 29 Belsize Ln, London NW3 5AS
Phone: 020 7433 0888
Ginger and White is family-friendly coffee shop serving artisan coffee and tea along with sandwiches, breakfast and lunch in Hampstead. Dishes like beans on toast aren’t just your standard though, with both aspects home-made as opposed to Heinz on sliced white!
Address: 2 England's Lane, Belsize Park, London NW3 4TG
Phone: 020 7433 0888
The Washington is a classic old Victorian pub with a contemporary twist. It's a local favourite due to the squidgy sofas, cask ale selection, and weekly Quiz night. The food represents that too, with quality pub grub served with a modern edge. Being a traditional pub it serves great ales, including Cornwall’s finest local drop - Doom Bar.
Looking for a lively atmosphere with a traditional yet youthful crowd? Then you've found it here amongst the sofas, cask ale selection, and weekly quiz night. Neighbourhood celebs often pop in for a quiet pint, so try to keep your starstruck reaction under wraps!
Address: 50 England's Lane, Belsize Park, London NW3 4YE
Phone: 020 7722 8842
This is what you get if you combine a Parisian bistro with an American steakhouse - casual, colourful comfort food. Tucking into their legendary Steak Frites on the terrace is no doubt one of the best ways to spend a Saturday afternoon in Belsize Park.
Address: 205-207, Haverstock Hill, Belsize Park, London NW3 4QG
Phone: 020 7435 4925
You’ll find this modern Italian restaurant in the leafy green Belsize Village and it is a real favourite amongst the locals. The glass frontage and glass ceiling allow sunlight to pour in, and talking of sunlight, when it shows it’s first rays of summer, dining alfresco becomes a possibility at Artigiano.
Address: 12A, Haverstock Hill, London NW3 4AX
Phone: 020 7794 4288
This mouthwatering bakery and cafe could convert even the most savoury tooth with their delicious homemade cakes. Come here for fresh quiche and coffee at lunchtime, followed by a decadent dessert. There are a few of these bakeries in London, this is the Belsize local.
Address: 12A, Belsize Terrace, London NW3 4QN
Phone: 020 7431 8944
The re-opened Chamomile is a warm, friendly café with great breakfasts and lunches with its own signature quirks, you can choose from the healthy home-made muesli to indulgent cakes that include, allegedly, the best chocolate and walnut brownies in London!
Address: 45 Englands Lane, London NW3 4YD
Phone: 020 7586 4580
While not known for it's shopping (Oxford Street is only a few miles away, after all!), Belsize Park does have some great independent shops that are worth a visit.
There are plenty of wonderful delicatessens, such as Black Truffle Deli, Pomona and Belsize Park Deli, where you can find a variety of delicious foods and organic produce. There is also a weekly farmers market on Eton Avenue, and a great butcher called Barrats, so you have no excuse to limit yourself to Tesco!
For bookworms, Daunt Books have a great little branch here that's perfect for picking up the latest bestseller, or browsing for an old classic.
This toy shop is a favourite amongst parents in the area, and is choc-a-bloc with traditional kids’ toys, board games, party stuff, fancy dress costumes and educational toys. Expect to leave with a lot more than you planned to!
We all need to fuel up while shopping and this award-winning delicatessen is great for that, but it also offers plenty of special treats too! You can find anything in this shop from Oreo cookies and food from across the Atlantic for all the Americans pining for home, to great selections of cheeses and cooked meats to a patisserie section. Located on the Rosslyn Hill.
Huggle is located a short walk from the fashionable Primrose Hill and is aimed at the trendy mothers and kids from anywhere between St Johns Wood to Belsize Park and beyond. Here you’ll find baby clothing along with parenting tools like potties, baby carriers and baby monitors as well as baby and parent classes and a coffee shop. A great place to socialise and find great quality parent and child goods.
Primrose Hill Park
On the northern side of Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill Park offers a great view of central London along with beautiful views of Belsize Park and Hampstead. On a sunny day the residents of the surrounding areas will flock here, and who can blame them!
Bike ride to Oxford Circus
Hopping on a Santander Cycle and heading to the town centre couldn’t be easier, with a simple downhill ride all the way to Oxford Circus. Enjoy a scenic bike ride with cracking views of London. But be warned - the cycle back uphill is much harder!
Once the London home of famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, this pretty 1920s building was transformed into a museum after the death of his daughter Anna. This is a must-see for anyone interested in psychology, particularly for Freud's infamous patient couch in the study.
Located on Haverstock Hill, this quirky cinema has a capacity of 129 with 16 premier luxury seats that recline and have footrests so you can enjoy a real ‘Chandler and Joey lazy boy chair’ moment! The cinema features everything from mainstream movies to alternative cinema and has it’s own bar and is available to hire.
Fancy seeing the future stars of the screen and stage before they hit the big time? This renowned theatre showcases new writing and acting talent with up to 12 plays a year. Harold Pinter had some of his early work produced here, so they certainly know talent when they see it!
Photo credit: www.insightguides.com
This lovely expanse of greenery is just a short walk to the north of Belsize Park, which despite the name doesn't actually have a park! Have a picnic on the grass, swim in the public pools, or just enjoy the panoramic views over London from the top of the hill.
Waitrose Cookery School
Fancy learning to cook like Heston and Delia? The UK's favourite supermarket has a Cookery School in Belsize Park, where you can sign up for all sorts of foodie courses, from grilling the perfect steak to making your own ice cream. They also sell gift certificates for their courses, perfect for any budding chefs.
It may not be everybody’s cup of tea but some people love indulging in a little celebrity-spotting. There’s not a lot of better places to partake in this than London’s Belsize Park and surrounding areas. Notable residents have included Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter and the recently "consciously-uncoupled" Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Have we missed anything? Let us know!
Main pic credit and pic credit to Nicky Kelvin Photography