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London Area Guides Area Guides   |   Jul 1, 2014

Primrose Hill London guide

You can't swing a cat in this leafy North-West London suburb without bumping into a celebrity - this urban village is absolutely heaving with actors, singers, writers, TV personalities, models, and all sorts of other media types. Famous poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath lived at Chalcot Square in the 1960s, and the likes of actors Daniel Craig and Jude Law, model Kate Moss and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver now call Primrose Hill home.

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It's not hard to see why this beautiful suburb is located on the north side of Regents Park, next to the 'Primrose Hill', which offers panoramic views over London and gives the area its name.

Despite being on the edge of Central London, it has the atmosphere of a small, community-focused village, full of independent shops and cafes. There are only around 7,500 residents in Primrose Hill, so you can get to know the neighbours too. Who knows - they might even include a future Prime Minister!

 

History of Primrose Hill

prim hill history Photo credit: www.primrosehillhistory.org

Primrose Hill wasn't always the posh suburb we see today - the fortunes of this area have risen and fallen plenty of times throughout its varied history. Legend has it the Druids once worshiped upon Primrose Hill, an ancient holy site long before London had expanded this far north. It remained a wild forest, full of wolves and used as a hunting ground for royals for hundreds of years...until the arrival of the railway. After Euston station was built, the land behind where Primrose Hill now lies was transformed into a maintenance area for the railways.

Housing was built for railway workers but the smoke and soot from the trains reduced the desirability of the area, and before long it became known as a hotbed of poverty and prostitution.

The future looked bleak for Primrose Hill until the electrification of the railway, which cleared the smog and dirt from the air. Londoners and developers began to descend on the cheap houses that were so close to Regents Park and Central London. From the 1960s the gentrification increased rapidly, with the pedestrianizing of certain roads contributing to the exclusive village feel it has today.

 

Cost of Renting in Primrose Hill

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 Unfortunately for those on a limited budget, these beautifully restored Victorian properties don't come cheap. There are houses worth up to £20 million listed for sale, and a few POA properties too (which roughly translates to ‘if you must ask, you can’t afford!). Even an ex-local authority flat will set you back at least £350,000. While the rental market offers better value in Primrose Hill, you might be better off looking at neighbouring Camden Town if you want a bit more for your money.

Cheapest rent for a two-bed flat: £1750 pcm

Most expensive rent for a two-bed flat: £6500 pcm

 

Transport Connections from Primrose Hill

tube Photo credit: www.flickr.com

Nestled between the buzzing areas of Camden Town, Chalk Farm and St John's Wood, this is an urban village with city transport links. Nearby tube stations Chalk Farm and Camden Road will get you into North, Central or South London in minutes, while for anywhere else you've got the Overground at Camden Road and plenty of buses. If you prefer to walk, Tottenham Court is a mere 1.5 miles away - how's that for a good commute!

 

Restaurants in Primrose Hill

Lemonia

Photo credit: www.independent.co.uk Photo credit: www.independent.co.uk

With white-washed walls and a traditional Greek menu, this family-run restaurant is a slice of Santorini in the heart of North-West London. A firm favourite with the locals for over 30 years, the kalamari, meze platters and fresh tzatsiki keep all their customers coming back.

Address: 89 Regent's Park Rd, London NW1 8UY

Phone: 020 7586 7454

L’Absinthe

A classic French Bistro offering cosy comfort food, L'Absinthe is the place to go for a romantic meal with and some good red wine. The short, authentic menu means that the dishes are given plenty of attention - we recommend the steak frites.

Address: 40 Chalcot Rd, London NW1 8LS

Phone: 020 7483 4848

Odette’s

This iconic Primrose Hill restaurant is the favourite dining spot for many North London dwelling celebs. Led by famous Welsh chef Bryn Williams, expect fine dining and a seasonal menu. If it's a special occasion, try the six course tasting menu for a truly gastronomical experience.

Address: 130 Regent's Park Rd, London NW1 8XL

Phone: 020 7586 8569

Feng Shang Princess

Photo credit: www.tripadvisor.co.uk Photo credit: www.tripadvisor.co.uk

The last thing you expect when strolling beside Regent's Canal is to see a floating red Chinese pagoda, never mind finding out that it's actually a restaurant. Eating at this unusual spot is worth it for the novelty alone, but fortunately the food is also delicious. You might even be lucky enough to spot one of the animals from London Zoo across the canal too!

Address: Cumberland Basin, Prince Albert Rd, London NW1 7SS

Phone: 020 7485 8137

Michael Nadra

Celebrated chef Michael Nadra opened his second London restaurant in Primrose Hill two years ago, the first being in Chiswick and it's still as busy as ever. With a posh Martini bar for pre (and post) dinner cocktails, a lovely canal-side terrace for sunny days and a menu full of fine food, it's likely to stay busy too.

Address: 42 Gloucester Ave, London NW1 8JD

Phone: 020 7722 2800

Shops in Primrose Hill

As you might expect in such a lovely area, the locals are keen to maintain the village atmosphere as much as possible. Primrose Hill is full of great independent shops and cafes, and efforts to turn Regent's Park Road into a typical high street have been fiercely resisted. Don't expect to find a Tesco Express here - residents prefer to shop in one of the many brilliant delis.

Anna

Photo credit: www.shopatanna.com Photo credit: www.shopatanna.com

This designer boutique kits out the fashionable women of Primrose Hill in chic brands such as Acne, J Brand and Sam Edleman. Don't be discouraged if they seem out of your budget though - the seasonal sales are fantastic!

Address: 126 Regent's Park Rd, London, Primrose Hill NW1 8XL

Phone: 020 7483 0411

Graham and Green

With all the million-pound houses in the area, it comes as no surprise that the locals need somewhere to find unique pieces for their (many) rooms. Graham and Green stocks beautiful furniture and accessories, and has been given the seal of approval by all the biggest interiors magazines

Elias & Grace

While Anna supplies the ladies of Primrose Hill, Elias & Grace provides for the little ones. Stocking children's clothes from Petit Bateau and Levis to Bonpoint and Chloe, even the fussiest of children will be happy with these sartorial options.

Address: 158 Regents Park Rd, London NW1 8XN

Phone: 020 7449 0574

Melrose and Morgan

www.melroseandmorgan.com www.melroseandmorgan.com

Melrose and Morgan is a deli, but not as you know it - for self-confessed foodies, this place is more like heaven. With a shop, a cafe and a delicatessen all under one roof, it's highly likely you'll pop in for a quick visit and emerge hours later with a lightened wallet and a very heavy stomach.

Address: 126 Regent's Park Rd, London, Primrose Hill NW1 8XL

Phone: 020 7483 0411

Primrose Bakery

The original shop that has spawned four cookbooks and a cult following since it opened in 2004, this bakery is a must-visit for any cupcake fans. They even do classes and workshops, so you can attempt to recreate these delicious treats at home.

Address: 69 Gloucester Ave, London NW1 8LD

Phone: 020 7483 4222

Attractions near Primrose Hill

Photo credit: www.boonvoyage.wordpress.com Photo credit: www.boonvoyage.wordpress.com

Boasting incredible panoramic views over London, Primrose Hill is one of the best parks in the capital to view the changing skyline. Unusually, it doesn't close at night either, so you can enjoy both sunset and sunrise here (if you get up early enough, that is!)

Chalcot Square

This pretty green square is home to some of the best properties in Primrose Hill, and has a fascinating history too - there's a plaque at number 3 commemorating the poet Sylvia Plath, who spent some of her happiest years here. Nowadays it's the perfect spot for a summer picnic, particularly if you pick up some treats from Melrose and Morgan before.

Everyman Cinema

Think you know the cinema experience?  Think again. Pop down to Maida Vale, Hampstead or Belsize Park to visit Everyman. Everyman cinemas are an innovative chain of boutique cinemas in the UK, showing both new and old films as you sit in the comfort of a sofa. They even have a bar serving drinks and hot food inside, completing the home-cinema feel. You’ll never want to visit the Odeon again.

Lord’s Cricket Ground

Photo credit: www.telegraph.co.uk Photo credit: www.telegraph.co.uk

An absolute must-see for any cricket fans, this 200 year old institution has been described as the ‘home of cricket’. With the world’s oldest sporting museum and some striking new modern boxes, this is the ideal place to watch a leisurely game or learn something new. 

Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Fancy seeing the future stars of stage and screen before they hit the big time and for much better value too? Head down to the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama for one of the termly student productions. With alumni like Judi Dench and Laurence Olivier, this is unlikely to be the average am-dram performance!

 


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