A London area which is frequently associated with an enormous, concrete flyover doesn’t normally conjure images of an ideal place to live, but give Hammersmith a chance before sinking into unfounded imaginings about awful traffic on the A4 and constant smokey fumes.
This is an area of two rather distinct aspects, joined by geography to create one, multifaceted pocket of London. On the one hand, there’s the Hammersmith of commerce, shopping and transport, where big international business such as L’Oreal, Coca-Cola and Disney have head offices, services from the train station take you across the city swiftly both above and below ground, and commuters splash their cash in the abundance of shops, cafes and sprinkled around big office complexes.
Meanwhile down by the riverside, Hammersmith couldn’t feel more different - gone are the large, corporate buildings, replaced by old-fashioned pubs, determined rowers out in sculls or eights, and relaxed locals enjoying a stroll by the Thames. These two sides contribute to the array of different residents here, with people from every stage of life choosing to make part of Hammersmith home. The properties reflect this too, with terraced houses near the river for families and modern apartments close to all the action for young professional couples. There’s also a decent proportion of weekday residents due to the proximity to the aforementioned flyover and the A4, making commuting from places such as Oxford surprisingly easy.
What else? There’s culture in abundance, with the famous Hammersmith Apollo drawing in huge crowds for concerts and comedy nights (more on that later) and the Lyric Theatre for award winning plays. The beautiful Hammersmith Bridge, too weak for cars, remains a proud local monument with a Grade II listing, and if you’re looking for high-achieving schools there are plenty in the borough to choose from. So forget those lingering doubts and give Hammersmith a try - you might be very pleasantly surprised.
On a map
Hammersmith is located in the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. It sits to the south of Shepherds Bush and the west of Kensington, in Zone 2. The postcode is W6.
History of Hammersmith London
Considered for hundreds of years to be not much more than a side parish of Fulham, little of note happened in Hammersmith until the 1800s. It was only when the Industrial Revolution kicked in that the area began to really develop. The proximity to the river made it the perfect spot for factories and commercial buildings, and it swiftly became a hub for all sorts of businesses including distilleries, sugar refineries and factories with more than 30,000 employees. Housing was built to accommodate the area, and the Hammersmith Bridge was built in 1877.
In the 1930s most of these buildings were demolished or redeveloped, although some housing from this time still remains, to be replaced by the offices, shops and housing we see today.
Transport from Hammersmith London
If you’re looking for an easy commute, there are few areas in West London better located than Hammersmith. The tube station covers an impressive four lines over two connected stations (District, Circle, Piccadilly and Hammersmith & City) giving residents quick access to Central London and Heathrow Airport in around 30 minutes for any international travel. For commuting, Piccadilly Circus is just 16 minutes away, while further into North London a journey to Kings Cross St Pancras takes a speedy 24 minutes.
Hammersmith also boasts a large bus station so there are buses serving the area from all over London during day and night, while if you’ve one of the rare Londoners with a car the Hammersmith Flyover and gyratory system will give you relatively painless access to the motorway out of London and the M25.
Cost of living in Hammersmith London
Due to the variety of residents in the area, there are properties here to suit all sorts - families looking for some space and a garden, single professionals wanting a modern flat to use as a base, and couples getting their first home together. Near the river there are some terraced properties available, ranging from the occasional Georgian building to 1960s houses, while in central Hammersmith both modern developments and converted mansion blocks can be found.
Once relatively cheap, prices have risen steeply in the area which has come as surprise to those who see it as a much less glamorous area than nearby Kensington, but due to the international businesses and the transport hub Hammersmith has become an increasingly coveted area. That said, it’s still cheaper to rent here than in Barnes and Earl’s Court, although now more expensive than nearby Shepherd’s Bush and Barons Court.
As of February 2016, the average rental cost of a two-bed apartment in Hammersmith is £2900, although similar properties can be found starting from £1500.
Restaurants in Hammersmith London
A vegetarian restaurant that could even convert hardcore carnivores to a more plant-based way of life is a rare find, but fortunately for Hammersmith residents they have one right on their doorstep. This veggie-loving spot has a varied, eclectic menu featuring items such as plantain fritters and truffled eggs, so you're bound to find something you've never tried before too.
Address: 51 Queen Caroline St, Hammersmith W6 9QL
Phone: 020 8748 6932
Enjoy a great meal pre- or post- show at the Lyric Hammersmith's very own restaurant, which is also worth a visit in its own right. Serving sharing platters and modern grill favourites such as lamb chops and gourmet burgers along with wines and craft beers, there's also a gorgeous outdoor terrace for lunch on sunny days.
Address: King St, Lyric Square, London W6 0QL
Phone:020 8741 6850
It may not look like much from the outside, but give this tiny Japanese eatery a chance and you'll be glad you did. There's a huge selection of authentic, fresh sushi on offer as well as bento and don dishes, the portions are huge (just give the katsu curry a try if you don't believe us!), and the prices very reasonable. It's the perfect spot for a budget weeknight dinner.
Address: 169 Reed Cl, London W6 9JT
Phone:020 8741 7916
Embrace la buena vida at this friendly, family-run tapas restaurant on Shepherds Bush Road, where you'll find delicious plates of Spanish bites served with a smile. We particularly love the fried brie with cranberry, the crispy calamari and the moreish ham croquettes.
Address: 127 Shepherds Bush Rd, Hammersmith, London W6 7LP
Phone:020 7603 2229
Shops in Hammersmith London
Indulge in some award-winning luxury chocolates at the Hammersmith branch of this famous chocolate shop, known for not only having excellent chocolate treats but also for being the only company in the UK to own their own cocao plantation in the Caribbean! Meanwhile if you're looking to expand your palate, sign up for their tasting club and get sent a selection of new flavours every month.
Address: Hammersmith Broadway Hammersmith Train Station, Hammersmith, London W6 9YD
Phone:020 8741 5674
Treat your nearest and dearest to a beautiful bouquet from Mrs Florist, an independent London flower shop with branches across West London. They've got stems for every budget and occasion, and also offer delivery seven days a week if you're not able to present them with a flourish yourself.
Address: 12 King St, London W6 0PZ
Phone: 020 8166 3169
While technically in neighbouring Shepherds Bush, it wouldn't be right to talk about shopping in the Hammersmith area without mentioning this epic shopping centre nearby. The size of a staggering 30 football pitches, it's got over 250 stores selling everything from high-end designer clothes to children's toys, and there's a cinema and restaurants too if you need to take restorative break after hitting the sales.
Address: Ariel Way, London W12 7GF
Phone: 020 3371 2300
Things to do in Hammersmith London
Arguably the most famous venue in Hammersmith, the Hammersmith Apollo has been entertaining the people of London since the 1930s, when it was named the Gaumont Palace. The Grade II listed concert hall is still going strong today, with a packed calendar full of musical performances and shows from world-famous comedians such as Michael McIntyre and Frankie Boyle.
Address: 45 Queen Caroline St, London W6 9QH
Phone: 020 8563 3800
If you're searching for something a little more sedate than a raucous comedy night, set aside a few hours to explore the beautiful, calm William Morris Society Museum inside. Dedicated to showcasing the work of famous Arts and Crafts artists William Morris, it's packed full of interesting textiles, archives, and a historic printing press.
Address: 26 Upper Mall, London W6 9TA
Phone: 020 8741 3735
Take a stroll down the riverside on one of those rare clear days to visit Bishops Park, a beautiful patch of greenery packed with sights and activities. Work up a sweat at the tennis courts, take a walk in the rose and sculpture gardens, or lounge around on the urban beach when the weather allows.
Address: Bishop's Ave, London SW6 6EA
Phone: 020 8753 5999
Main image credit: George Rex