The north-west London enclave of West Hampstead is a popular choice among city professionals and young families for its small village community feel in a bustling and thriving city. With regular community meetings and a thriving social scene amongst locals, West Hampstead has kept its small community feel partly due to flying under the radar. Many younger professionals and students prefer nearby Camden, while mature professionals and families frequently overlook West Hampstead and head to neighbouring, better-known Hampstead.
What remains is an un-spoilt community spirit, with strong transport links to central London and a thriving retail and gastronomy scene focused around West End Lane. There is a buzzing café culture and easy access to Regents Park and Hampstead Heath for some green space and an escape from the urban sprawl of the city.
Being situated on a railway route, West Hampstead was bombed to decimation in the Second World War and most of the residential developments were constructed in the post-war years. There are some large detached properties which survived the war and the winding streets between West End Lane and Finchley Road are largely comprised of neat, red-brick semidetached properties. Many of the surviving Victorian properties have been converted into apartments and a number of modern new apartment complexes have also emerged in recent years.
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Residents with younger children are spoilt for choice in West Hampstead. The area has no less than 23 primary schools. Some of the highlights are Kingsgate Primary School on Kingsgate Road which achieved an OFSTED rating of ‘Outstanding’ in 2011, and Emmanuel Church of England Primary which also received an outstanding rating in 2007.
There are seven secondary schools which serve West Hampstead. University College School is an independent school for boys in nearby Hampstead which consistently performs well, as does South Hampstead High School, the independent girls school. St. George’s Catholic school in Maida Vale is also an excellent option after scoring Outstanding in their 2014 OFSTED inspection.
A major residential regeneration project is planned for West End Lane. 156 West End Lane will deliver 163 new residential homes with ground floor commercial spaces, a community centre, start-up business units, and a green space.
The orbital railway plans to link north and west London will also bring a welcome boost to the area. The line will run from West Hampstead to Hounslow. The West London Economic Prosperity Board approved the proposals in September 2017 and the project will hopefully be completed by 2029.
West Hampstead began life as the small village of West End, located to the north-west of the city of London. Once the railway arrived in the late 1800s, a sharp population increase led to the newly named West Hampstead becoming a prominent strategic route into London. The area sustained its strong transport connections into the 20th century and still maintains them today.
West Hampstead sits in zone two of the London Underground network and is served by the Jubilee line, which takes just 18 minutes to London Bridge station. West End Lane also has two other train stations. The Overground station sits on the line connecting Richmond to Stratford, allowing residents to reach Richmond in around 30 minutes and Hackney and Dalston in just 20 minutes. West Hampstead Thameslink (Capital Connect) connects the area to Gatwick Airport and the South of England. There are also a host of public buses, including the 24-hour 139 service.
The Wet Fish Café is a local West Hampstead treasure, serving good food, an array of interesting cocktails, and hosting live music and events. For a relaxed and friendly local English pub, the Black Lion on West End Lane has good beer and a split level external beer garden, making it a local summer favourite. The Gallery, next to West Hampstead Station also offers excellent wine and food options and for tasty, quality wines, look no further than the Number 77 wine bar on Mill Lane.
In keeping with its strong community and village feel, the weekly farmers market at the Thameslink Station takes place every Saturday and is hive of local activity and a source of much local pride. The Hampstead Butcher and Providore also sells a wide selection of free range, ethically reared meats and dairy products.
The O2 Centre on Finchley Road has a cinema, gym and plenty of restaurants and retail outlets. For something a little different, head to the Creative Café on West End Lane, where you can paint and design your own pottery.