Living in West Hampstead

By Josh Loeb

West Hampstead is, to all intents and purposes, just one street - West End Lane. It is located in the London Borough of Camden, in zone two of the London Underground. It borders Belsize Park/Finchley Road to the east, and Kilburn/Willesden to the west. In the north are Cricklewood and Golders Green, whilst to the south lie uber-refined St. John's Wood and Maida Vale. The area is home to three train stations (all, confusingly, called West Hampstead!) and is a bona fide yuppie stronghold.

Housing

Though upmarket, West Hampstead is considered by many to be more down to earth than its north-eastern neighbour known simply as Hampstead. You can expect to pay around 120 a week for a decent sized room. The residential streets between West End Lane and Finchley Road are full of beautiful, red brick, semi-detached houses. New apartment complexes - swish, though rather lacking in character - have started to spring up here and there.

People

"Yummy mummies" with buggies, Polish immigrants, and antipodean travellers are not uncommon sights, though by far the most visible of West Hampstead's residents are the ambitious "young professionals," who have large enough disposable incomes to support their daily visits to Starbucks, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose.

Pubs, Clubs and Entertainment

Though West Hampstead is hardly a place that springs to mind when you think nightlife, it has a smattering of good restaurants, pubs and bars. On the whole, the area's watering holes are towards the swankier (and pricier) end of the spectrum, and places tend to feel more mature feel than, say, Camden Town.

In terms of nightclubs, Lately on West End Lane is a charming old-school dancing spot, whilst the Lower Ground Bar (also on West End Lane) flaunts its status as "West Hampstead's Premier Nightspot." Other decent after dark haunts on West End Lane include the Czech Bar and Ye Old Black Lion. The Gallery (Broadhurst Gardens) is alright too.

The nearest cinema can be found in the O2 Centre on Finchley Road, but far nicer is Screen on the Hill (only a little further away) in Belsize Park.

Parks

Strangely for such a well-regarded locale, the nearest West Hampstead gets to a park is the scrap of green space behind Finchley Road Station, but this is hardly the place for a Sunday constitutional. Hampstead Heath and Regents Park are both close enough, but the sad truth is that West Hampstead is simply not a place for genuine park lovers.

Shops, Restaurants and Takeaways

Shopaholics, on the other hand, will find much to admire about the area. Primark in Kilburn is just around the corner, whilst for the less spendthrift, Hampstead High Street's posh boutiques are dangerously close by. On West End Lane there are a number of charity shops where you can pick up a bargain, including Scope, Oxfam and Cancer Research UK. Bookworms should head for the beautiful West End Lane Books.

As for restaurants, the Number 77 Wine Bar is does a range of tasty (but unfortunately rather expensive) little numbers and there are some good places for a bite to eat on Broadhurst Gardens. The Wet Fish Cafe is a classy place specialising in Modern European cuisine, whilst Wwest Hampstead's more proletarian residents head for the likes of the Bridge Cafe - a traditional, working class "greasy old spoon." For take away food, you could do worse than grab some Peri-Peri chicken from the local branch of Nando's, or a pizza from Papa John's. At lunchtime the smell of cheap sausages wafts out from Mr. Gingham's sandwich shop next to the tube station, enticing many a passer-by.

Transportation

West Hampstead is ridiculously well served by public transport. West End Lane is an important interchange between three stations - West Hampstead Underground Station, West Hampstead Thameslink, and West Hampstead Silverlink Metro (which are all only a minute from each other). As if that wasn't enough, there are plenty of buses connecting the area with other parts of London.

Good Points

  • three West Hampstead train stations
  • safe, friendly, and sophisticated
  • the O2 Centre, if you like American-style "retail spaces"

Bad Points

  • relative lack of green space
  • the O2 centre, if you prefer small, family run, local shops

AREAS OF LONDON


Acton
Cheap rent means more money to spend at the pubs.


Brixton
Gritty, cheap and international with loads of character.


Camberwell
Edgy, gritty and artsy area close to central London.


Camden Town
Full of punks, market stalls and a great canal.


Clapham
Diverse area with everyone from yuppies to yobbos.


Ealing
Decent shopping but the nightlife is a bit uninspired.


Earl's Court
In zone one but expensive and full of tourists.


East Dulwich
A posh area south of the river but still affordable.


Finsbury Park


Fulham
Very nice area but expensive and the District line is crap.


Greenwich
Nice, safe, close to the city but not much nightlife.


Hammersmith
Great transport links and near to the Thames.


Kilburn
Great transport links but a bit dodgy at night.


Putney
Green and pretty but a little bit on the dull side.


Shepherd's Bush
A lively, edgy, multicultural area in West London.


Shoreditch
Edgy, creative and trendy with a great nightlife.


Stoke Newington


Tooting
A bit rough around the edges but a great place for a curry.


West Hampstead
Well connected by transport but a little expensive.


Willesden Green
Cheap, full of travellers and well connected.


Wimbledon
Nice area, decent nightlife and good transport to the city.

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