The Pleasures of Chalk Farm, Belsize Park and Swiss Cottage
When people look to London’s north, they tend to make a beeline for the biggest hotspot: Camden. And while Camden is a lot of fun, it seems the fun a little further up the tube line has been forgotten. Ditch the crowds and wander up towards the NW3 triangle for entertainment without the bustle. This is a breakdown of the NW3 triangle’s best features.
If you want to start your day on a good note, you cannot go past brunch on England’s Lane. This street has several great places on offer, including the very trendy Ginger & White. It’s even trendier sister store is located up in Hampstead, but the Belsize Park branch tends to be quieter, with all the same charm. It’s still a hipster haven, of course, but the variety of pastries and simple dishes makes for a very satisfying range of brunch options.
Prefer a more down-to-earth, family-friendly affair? Well there is Chamomile up the road. Simple, straightforward food with simple, straightforward décor.
When your day is done and you just need a pint, the Washington provides a family friendly hideaway. It even has a secret door at the back, which can only be accessed through a bookshelf. The interior is traditional and warm, and they serve up the British pub classics with modern presentation.
For brand name shopping there’s the O2 centre, which houses big brand names such as Habitat, Oliver Bonas, Tiger and Waterstones. But if it’s something more niche you’re after, there are a few options. Directly outside the Swiss Cottage Eton St exit is the Swiss Cottage farmer’s market each weekend, where there is always a variety of baked goods, vintage and other stalls.
Alternatively, take a walk up through Belsize Village and off towards Hampstead Heath overground. Pockets of village activity make this postcode particularly cute and appealing.
When describing the Belsize Village area, Tazim Alidina, who has been a shop owner and resident of Belsize Park for 30 years, says this area boasts “an incredible community like no other – everyone says hello! You will immediately feel at home here.” If the rest of the city is starting to feel unfriendly, this is one of London’s hidden gems, a unique experience for any visitor.
From England’s Lane it’s an easy wander down towards Primrose Hill, where the NW3 triangle begins. Unparalleled views of London will work off breakfast, as you head up to the summit. Primrose Hill is a London classic, the view extending right over London, such that you can see everything down to the London Eye.
On your way southbound, you’ll notice just how beautiful the NW3 architecture is – Eton Road, in particular, is a haven of traditional red brick beauty, and the way down towards Primrose Hill itself is dotted with standout quirky London charm.
The Hampstead Theatre, also on the Eton Rd. is always worth a visit in NW3. Having played host to the glitzy new production ‘Labyrinth’, the quality and scale of these shows is undeniable, despite being in an otherwise very quiet, hassle-free part of town. The Hampstead Theatre prides itself on supporting the work of new voices in theatre – before their shows hit the much more expensive West End!
If history is more your bent, the Freud Museum, within the triangle, is compelling and is open from Wednesday to Sunday. Freud’s infamous ‘psychoanalytic couch’ is on display, supposedly given to Freud by Madame Benvenisti, one of his grateful patients, around 1890. The home also contains many other personal artefacts, including his library and study where the visitor can capture more of the essence of the man
If you prefer art don’t dismiss the Camden Arts Centre. With rotating exhibitions year round, the Camden Arts centre is free to enter and hosts a variety of emerging artists’ work. It is dedicated to the display and education surrounding contemporary art, and does much to involve artists and the public to collaborate on modern art processes.
In all, there is something for any mood in the NW3 triangle. A blessedly bustle-free hub of London activities, access the area for a day off the beaten track.