We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, we feel incredibly lucky to have our business in what we think is one of the most beautiful parts of London - Hampstead.
What we have on our doorstep - quirky Hampstead Village (full of small stores and quaint pubs) - never fails to charm our visitors. With a history that is centuries old, walking its tiny backstreets and cobblestoned paths really is a trip back in time. And, of course, La Gaffe is only three minutes walk from Hampstead tube, which means that museums, galleries, restaurants, shopping and world-class theatre are just a quick underground journey away.
Kenwood - the perfect setting for a walk
But today we’re staying in Hampstead, and talking about Kenwood - not the house itself (that will be for another blog, since it is well deserving) but the wonderful grounds in which it sits, which are the most marvellous setting for walks.
Ask anyone who lives in the area what they love about it, and they’ll say “Being able to walk on Hampstead Heath and in Knewood year-round” and they’d be right.
Winter, spring, summer and autumn…this enormous green expanse (nicknamed ‘ the green lung of London’) is perfect for a stroll, a wander or a long long walk, whether it be on a long summer evening (when the shadows are long), a chilly winter’s morning (when frost glitters on the ground), the spring (when flowers are peeking up) and autumn (when the leaves are colourful but getting ready to fall).
Arriving at Kenwood via Hampstead Lane
Kenwood is about 20 minutes walk from Hampstead tube, or you can walk up Heath Street (past La Gaffe) and then jump on the 210 bus which will drop you right outside the entrance.
Walk in and gaze at the beauty of the house itself - Kenwood is a 17th century mansion which has had a few owners over the years and also been redesigned considerably. Its facade is simply gorgeous - Robert Adams, a Scottish architect, transformed it in the late 1770s into a neoclassical villa and no matter how many times you stare at it, you won’t be bored.
An enormous green expanse beckons - with a lake at the bottom! In the summer, people gather here, with blankets and friends, to picnic in the day and enjoy classical music concerts at night.
(There is a small cafe next door to the white mansion, where you can grab coffee and cake, if you want some sustenance before setting off!)
A Stroll Around Kenwood
Kenwood is surrounded by a huge green lawn which slopes down to a tranquil lake - walk along the house’s terrace and enjoy the fine views which stretch down to the water.
Once you arrive at the lake, walk across the Sham Bridge which is made of timber and has a balustrade and gaze over the ‘Thousand Pound Pond’. No-one quite knows the origin of this name, but presumably it refers to the enormous sum of money it cost to build.
Now it’s up to you which direction you head in!
The Hampstead Heath Circular Walk
Always popular - just under 10 kms (6.5 miles) - this path is perfect for those who long for a long ramble and want to blow the cobwebs away. You should allow 4-5 hours because you’ll walk all around the periphery of the Heath and take in many popular sites, including the famous bathing ponds.
Sites you should look out for along the way include the Flask Walk, the Hampstead Ponds (Ladies, Men and Mixed), Highgate Cemetery, Kenwood House, the Spaniards Inn pub and Holly Bush Hill. And just before you return to Hampstead tube, you can pop into us on Heath Street for a cappuccino…all that walking can be quite exhausting!
Iconic Views at Parliament Hill
At 98 metres high, this is one of the highest points in London and a perfect spot to enjoy the magnificent view of London and its imposing skyline. You’ll be able to see many major sites - including St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Gherkin, the Shard and the Palace of Westminster.
The name Parliament Hill is actually thought to date back to the English Civil War - it was a point of defence for troops who were defending Parliament but previous to this it was actually known as ‘Traitor’s Hill’ (probably referring to the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605, which culminated in the hanging of Guy Fawkes and his co-plotters).
Whether you want to sit on one of the benches dotted around and take in the view, or head to the cafe for a brew, you won’t be sorry you made this walk. In the summer, you can stretch out on the grass and watch kids flying kites, or even head to the Lido (which is perfect for cooling off on scorching days).
Bakeries and Bookshops at South End Green
This is also a beautiful spot to visit if you’re walking around Hampstead. It’s full of charm, tiny independent stores and characterful pubs and it’s a short distance from both Hampstead/Belsize Park tubes and the overground. It’s also home to the lovely Daunt Bookstore (Daunt was established originally as a bookstore that specialised in travel books) and well worth a visit.
Fun fact: the overground is a great way (and somewhat unknown by tourists) to travel around London and from Hampstead can take you in a flash to places like Kew Gardens (in the west of the city) and Hackney - known for its street art and ‘gritty’ style (in the east).
Once you’ve grabbed a coffee and pastry from one of the bakeries that are in South End Green, you can head off into greenery and before you know it you’ll feel you’re in the countryside. That’s the thing about living in Hampstead - you’re never far from trees and however much we all love London, there are times we just need to retreat.
If you're coming to the capital and need a hotel in Hampstead, don’t hesitate to call or email us - we offer comfortable guest accommodation just three minutes walk from Hampstead tube and a twenty minute stroll to Kenwood! Oh, and we promise you the best cappuccino in the neighbourhood at breakfast, the next morning…!
What are you waiting for?