Belsize Park overview
What's it all about?
Nestled between the sophistication of Hampstead and the youthful energy of Camden, Belsize Park is a haven for professional couples, young families and celebrities alike. Many of the buildings, whether Victorian, Queen Anne or Arts and Crafts in heritage, are acknowledged as the finest of their kind, and tree lined streets and wide pavements make walking here a pleasure. A good thing, because Belsize Park is minutes from some of London’s most stunning green spaces, offering a welcome escape from the bustle of the Capital. A short stroll south to the top of Primrose Hill is rewarded with a stunning panorama of the city, not to mention the delights of its village high street, and to the north the open space of Hampstead Heath awaits. But it’s central too, so whether you prefer to freewheel downhill on a bike all the way to Oxford Street or hop on the Tube, you can be in the heart of London in less than 20 minutes. There's a real community feel here centred around picturesque England’s Lane, which is lined with cafes and independent boutiques.
- The name Belsize is derived from the French ‘bel assis’ meaning ‘well situated’ and dates back to 1317.
- Belsize Park Tube station is one of only eight London stations with a deep level World War II air raid shelter beneath it.
- Both Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx lived in Belsize Park; Marx is buried nearby in Highgate Cemetery.
Architecture and property
The manor of Belsize was first recorded in the 14th century, with major property developments taking place in bursts during the 19th and early 20th centuries to lend parts of the area a pleasing architectural harmony. Listed buildings abound and there are fine examples of Queen Anne architecture in Lyndhurst Gardens, while the rows of imposing mid Victorian stucco fronted houses found on Belsize Grove, Belsize Park Gardens and beyond rival anything Kensington has to offer. There is also a small concentration of sought after Art Deco and Modern movement buildings on Haverstock Hill, Garnett Road and Parkhill Road. Most houses in this area have been converted into spacious two and three bedroom flats.
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Eating out: A great range of neighbourhood restaurants and bars means locals can find plenty to entertain them without venturing very far. Pubs and bistros serving excellent and innovative food abound: the head chef at Indian restaurant Hazara on Belsize Lane hails from a Michelin starred restaurant, while just across the road lies pan Asian XO, sister restaurant to the ever popular E&O in Notting Hill.
Film and Theatre: The Everyman Cinema on Haverstock Hill boasts comfy sofas, and screens a great selection of arthouse films. While Hampstead Theatre, who's mission is to create original theatre without creative restriction, is just a stone’s throw away in nearby Swiss Cottage.
Relaxation: Belsize Park is a centre of cafe culture, with myriad options including child friendly Ginger and White, which serves up traditional breakfast fare with a unique twist – try the poached eggs with chorizo and roasted garlic yogurt. Treat yourself to a trip to Fern Skincare on England’s Lane or BodyMatters Clinic on McCrone Mews for the ultimate in relaxing treats.
- The O2 Centre on Finchley Road houses a multiplex cinema, shops, bars, restaurants, a large Sainsbury’s and a Fitness First. There is also a Waitrose just down the road.
- If you prefer to shop locally there’s an excellent selection of shops that really know the community they serve. Budgens caters to local tastes with its butchery section, deli, seafood counter, and grind your own coffee counter. It also has a Post Office and a good selection of organic fruit and veg, some of which is grown on the store’s roof as part of its ‘Food from the Sky’ initiative. Family run Barrett’s Butchers has over 100 years under their butcher’s belt.
- There are three open air swimming pools, as well as tennis courts and an athletics track, at nearby Hampstead Heath, and there’s a Better gym in nearby Swiss Cottage, otherwise known as Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre.
- Belsize Park still has its own community library, too. Situated on Antrim Grove, it hosts regular events for kids, as well as talks by academics. Literature lovers should visit Daunt Books, a local treasure that has retained a cosy, old world atmosphere.
Primrose Hill offers arguably the best view of the Capital – past Londoners deemed this view of St Paul’s Cathedral so remarkable that it’s even protected by a statute of law to prevent buildings that could block it. Hampstead Heath is a 790 acre haven for those keen to reconnect with nature in the middle of the metropolis. Enjoy a walk across the park to majestic Kenwood House, or if you’re feeling brave join the regulars who, come rain or shine, can be found taking an early morning dip in the Heath’s ponds.
Steeles Village on the lower end of Haverstock Hill has been spruced up by a cooperative of local residents and shopkeepers over the past few years. Taking its name from local boozer The Sir Richard Steele, a favourite nightspot of Kate Moss and Jude Law, it’s a great place for shopping and drinks.
Tube: Belsize Park Tube station is on the Edgware branch of the Northern Line. Its Zone 2 location means it takes just 15 minutes to get to central London. Overground train services run from Finchley Road & Frognal, West Hampstead, South Hampstead and West Hampstead Thameslink.
Road: The North Circular is a 30 minute drive away, and a number of other major motorways are in close reach, including the M1, M4, M11 and M25, as well as the A41.
Bus: Travel is easy from Belsize Park, whether you’re heading north to Brent Cross shopping centre on the C11 or south into the heart of the city on the 46, 168 or 268.
Cycle: The nearest Boris bikes are a 25 minute walk away on Castlehaven Road, but if you have your own it’s a half hour meander through Regent’s Park to the centre of town, or just 15 minutes via main roads.
Getting away: To travel further afield, London City Airport is only 45 minutes away by Tube and DLR.
There is a very high concentration of private schools in Belsize Park, although the local comprehensive, Haverstock School Business & Enterprise College, has special status, and University College London has recently opened its own Academy here.
Please see our schools tab for more information on schools in this area.
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