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  • A Local’s Guide to Hampstead

    Hampstead is a bucolic, elegant suburb of North London known for its literary history, towering tree-lined streets and glittering array of residents (you’re as likely to see Josh Harnett in the Heath Street Tesco as you are Antonia Fraser).

    More recently, this picturesque part of London has been depicted (in all its glory) in the new film Hampstead, due to be released on 23rd June. Assured to tempt many new visitors, we thought we'd beat the crowds and ask Hampstead resident, journalist, director and co-host of The High Low podcast Dolly Alderton to give us her insider's guide to the infamous area.

    From hidden gems to the iconic heath, bookshops to bathing ponds, here are her essential Hampstead hangouts... 

    Breakfast Out: Ginger and White

     A great breakfast spot is Ginger and White, tucked away down Perrin’s Court with a charmingly bijous one-man kitchen and the best buttery scrambled eggs north of the river. 

    Lunch Break: Karma Bread Bakehouse 

    For lunch, head down to Karma Bread Bakehouse for the mouth-wateringly melting grilled cheese sandwiches followed by one of the home-made jam donuts that have customers queuing round the block every Sunday morning. 

    Dinner with Friends: Jin Kichi

    If you’re after a fancy dinner, wander up the hill to Jin Kichi for silky tuna sashimi, the delicious seaweed salad and a glass of sake.

    Date Night: The Everyman Cinema 

    For a date night, book two tickets at The Everyman Cinema and make the most of the table service for a bottle of wine and the red velvet sofa for smooching.

    Must-See Spot: Hampstead Heath

    The most treasured and sacred part of Hampstead is, of course, The Heath – a wide, open space so breath-taking it inspired Keats to write many of his most beautiful odes to nature. Parliament Hill is also a must-see spot, with arguably the best view of London.

    Best Discovery: The Bathing Ponds and Holly Bush Pub

    The men’s, ladies’ and mixed natural-water Bathing Ponds surrounded by wildlife and weeping willows are cool, calming and restorative. After a bracing swim, nothing will warm you up like a beer in a candle-lit corner of The Holly Bush – perhaps London’s most romantic pub.

    Describe your perfect Saturday in Hampstead?

    The perfect Hampstead Saturday would involve a walk to the most northern part of The Heath and a wander round Kenwood House (it’s rich in fascinating aristocratic, local and London history, completely free to go in – and home to some beautiful paintings, including a Rembrandt), a scone with cream and raspberry jam in the Kenwood café’s scented rose garden, a ramble through the woods until you come out at Hampstead High Street and a rummage through the Oxfam book shop. Who knows – you might even pick up one of Josh Hartnett’s paperbacks.

    See Hampstead on the big screen...

    In cinemas on 23rd June, Hampstead is a funny and life-affirming tale about how love can be found in the most unexpected places. Starring Academy Award® winner Diane Keaton and BAFTA nominee Brendon Gleeson, the hilarious film proves once and for all that it’s never too late to see love from a new perspective. 

    Directed by Joel Hopkins (known for The Love Punch and Last Chance Harvey), the heartwarming romcom combines a stellar British cast with the beautiful backdrop of the Hampstead area - leaving you wanting to head to North London for a picnic immediately! 

    Dolly Alderton is a journalist, writer, director and co-host of The High Low weekly podcast, follow her on instagram @dollyalderton and visit her website here