It's a common wishlist for many renters looking for a new home in North London - a charming, historic area with lots of independent shops; good schools for the current (or future) children, and a big expansive green space nearby for walks on the weekend. That is, until they see the rental prices of Hampstead and shelve it as a dream rather than a reality.
Fortunately for them, North London's well-kept secret of Muswell Hill has all the pizzazz of Hampstead (including the odd celebrity resident) with significantly lower rental prices. The compromise here is putting up with a bit of a distance to the tube, as Muswell Hill's nearest connections can be found in Highgate and East Finchley, but the highlights of this quaint area more than make up for a bit of a hike to the Northern Line, or a newfound dedication to London buses.
Unlike some other under-the-radar areas, Muswell Hill doesn't keep it's charms hidden either - take a short walk along one of their Edwardian shopping streets, filled with high-end brands such as Whistles and Space NK, or pop into the farmer's market at Alexandra Palace and you'll be quickly sold on the area. It was named as one of the top 5 places to live by the Sunday Times so the area's star is certainly on the rise, but it still remains as relaxed and friendly as ever.
Particularly popular with families due to the detached houses and wide selection of Oftsed Outstanding schools, Muswell Hill has a slower pace of life than a lot of parts of London, with a definite cosy pub rather than flashy club atmosphere - even their branch of Irish pub chain O'Neills is located in a genteel former church. Don't mistake this calm pace for boredom however, as there's plenty of spirit and things to do in and around N10. The workspaces and vintage shops of Avenue Mews have made it somewhat of a creative hub in recent years with regular community events, while the green spaces of Alexandra Palace and Highgate Woods are both within walking distance.
On a map
Muswell Hill is located in North London, crossing the boroughs of Haringey and Barnet. It sits to the north of Highgate and the west of Wood Green, and covers the postcode N10.
History of Muswell Hill London
The existence of Muswell Hill dates all the way back to the 1100s, when the land was owned by the Bishop of London. The story goes that it was named after a miraculous natural spring, the ‘Mossy Well’, which became a pilgrimage site in the Medieval period for people seeking to be healed, including King Malcolm IV of Scootland who was said to have been cured here.
By the 1700s it was a small village, known for its views over London and large country houses. Once Alexandra Palace was built in 1873 the area began to develop much more, and saw lots of housing and commercial buildings spring up near the newly-opened railways stations for the Palace, which are now closed. During the Edwardian period there was another wave of development, including various churches and an Art Deco cinema, and many of the central streets were laid out to form the Muswell Hill we see today.
Transport from Muswell Hill London
Unfortunately, Muswell Hill doesn’t have it’s own train or tube station, with the nearest stations being Highgate and East Finchley - both of which are around a mile away. From here, a journey to Leicester Square will take just 20 minutes, and Bank is only 33 minutes away. There's also Alexandra Palace station, which offers direct trains to Moorgate in just 20 minutes.
To make up for the lack of rail access, the area is served by plenty of buses travelling all over London, with destinations including Tottenham Court Road, Hampstead, the City and London Bridge. Muswell Hill is also not far from the North Circular, making it well-placed for getting in and out of London.
Cost of living in Muswell Hill London
Muswell Hill has a good variety of pretty, historic properties, particularly Victorian and Edwardian terraces and a selection of detached houses on quiet, family-friendly streets. It’s also possible to find some Arts and Crafts-style cottages, although anything more modern than that will be few and far between.
Despite its high-end shops and large, leafy houses, Muswell Hill is surprisingly affordable for a popular North London suburb. Rental prices here are lower than in nearby Crouch End, and Archway, and significantly lower than Highgate or Hampstead. As of April 2016, the average rental cost of a two-bedroom apartment in Muswell Hill is around £1450, and similar places can be found starting at around £1250 per month.
Restaurants in Muswell Hill London
Ditch the diet and embrace comfort food at this cool independent chicken restaurant, where the interiors are simple and all the attention is on the fried buttermilk chicken and drool-worthy hot wings. Not into poultry? Try the BBQ ribs or the cheesy nachos - you won't regret it.
Address: 43 Muswell Hill Broadway, London N10 3HA
Phone:020 8444 5383
Leave your work-day stresses behind at this calm Japanese restaurant on Muswell Hill Broadway, where you’ll find an extensive menu filled with dishes including tempura, ramen noodle soups, sashimi platters and sushi hand rolls. The prices are very reasonable, and they also offer takeaway if you’d prefer your sushi selection with your feet up at home.
Address: 271 Muswell Hill Broadway, London N10 1DE
Phone:020 8883 7722
Beloved by local residents, Toff’s is the best place to go in Muswell Hill when that occasional craving for a proper fish and chips hits. This classic fish bar has been around since the 1960s, and is still going strong due to their delicious crispy battered fish fillets and perfectly cooked chips. Eat inside the old-school dark wood restaurant, or get a meal to go and head to Alexandra Palace for dinner with a view.
Address: 38 Muswell Hill Broadway, London N10 3RT
Phone:020 8883 8656
Shops in Muswell Hill London
It’s not a real London village without a good independent bookshop, so naturally Muswell Hill has a brilliant selection of reading materials at the Muswell Hill Bookshop on Fortis Green Road. If you can’t find what you're looking for in the shop the staff are usually happy to order something in for you, and they hold regular readings with well-known authors to help you find some inspiration too.
Address: 72 Fortis Green Rd, London N10 3HN
Phone: 020 8444 7588
This popular local cheese shop is a must visit for any fromage fans in the area, with a wide range of amazing artisan cheeses from all over the world, as well as wines and charcuterie on sale to help you create the ultimate wine and cheese pairing. You can also shop online and have the products delivered, and there’s even a ‘pungent rating’ for the products to help you choose how mouldy to go.
Address: 13 Fortis Green Rd, London N10 3HP
Phone:020 8444 9141
A true Muswell Hill institution, W Martyn has been selling specialist tea, coffee and luxury hampers to the residents of N10 since 1897, making it possibly the oldest business in the area. The roastery on-site means you can smell the place from a mile away via the delicious coffee bean aromas, so you’re unlikely to need a map either - just follow your nose!
Address: 135 Muswell Hill Broadway, London N10 3RS
Phone:020 8883 5642
Things to do in Muswell Hill London
Catch the latest blockbuster or a lesser-known indie film at the Muswell Hill branch of Everyman Cinema, the UK’s favourite network of boutique cinemas. With comfy seats, well-stocked bars and popcorn that won’t cost you a month’s rent, it’s the best place to sit back and relax with a good movie.
Address: Fortis Green Rd, London N10 3HP
Phone:0871 906 9060
Escape from the madness of city life in this beautiful park overlooking London, which was built in the 1800s as a leisure and entertainment destination for Victorian Londoners. Spanning nearly 200 acres, there’s everything from a panoramic view of the city and a week Farmer’s market to a boating lake to enjoy, as well as the stunning Alexandra Palace itself.
Address: Alexandra Palace Way, London N22 7AY
Tooting their trumpets and playing percussion, this British brass band is one of the more unusual highlights of this quirky area. Make the most of the Muswell Hill Brass music group by attending a concert, regularly held in locations around Muswell Hill, or even unearthing that long-forgotten dream of playing the cornet and get in touch to join in!
Phone: 0208 366 0657
Main image credit: Mike T