What it's all about?
Smart, desirable and attractively clustered, Primrose Hill is known for one of the best views in London. Its celebrity residents have also given the area an artistic and bohemian edge. Neatly framed by the Regent’s Canal to the south, Euston’s railway lines curving around the eastern and northern sides, and by Primrose Hill itself on the west, the area has become increasingly sought-after and affluent since the 1960s. This is reflected in the upmarket restaurants, pubs, bars and boutiques lining up alongside its residential streets. Its exclusivity is reflected with minimal development. People here value comfortable living spaces, privacy, peace and quiet, and quality food and drink within a few minutes’ walk of their front door.
- The area was believed to be named after Prime Minister Archibald Primrose, who oversaw the rapid expansion of railway lines in the locality. However, it’s actually been known as Primrose Hill since the 15th century, and simply refers to the flowers that grew on its slopes.
- The ‘Primrose Hill set’, a term coined by the newspapers for a celebrity coterie who lived here in the 1990s. These included actors, models and musicians Sienna Miller, Jude Law, Sadie Frost, Kate Moss, Ewan McGregor, Patsy Kensit and the Gallagher brothers.
- Sylvia Plath lived on Chalcot Square with husband and fellow poet, Ted Hughes, in the early 1960s. She later lived, and died, in a house on nearby Fitzroy Road, which was once occupied by another poet, WB Yeats.
Architecture and property
Almost all of the properties here are stately three or four storey Victorian houses, mostly of exposed London brick or plastered white. These give the area an air of quiet grandeur. Chalcot Square is a vision in pastels, with townhouses overlooking a small fenced park with wooden swings and benches. There are some post-war purpose-built blocks at the northern end of Primrose Hill Road, and the southern end of Gloucester Avenue.
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Eating: Primrose Hill has a sprinkling of well-established and beloved local dining options. Lemonia has been dishing up authentic Mediterranean dishes in its large, buzzy, light-filled main room for 30 years. Odette’s has been around for even longer, and current chef Bryn Williams brings a passion for seasonal cooking to this smart establishment. Thought to be Europe’s first vegan restaurant, Manna, opened in the 1960s, continues to prove that healthy is tasty. For Italian dishes, La Collina offers fine cuisine in a homely atmosphere.
Drinking: The Queen’s is just yards from Primrose Hill, with a view that can be enjoyed from its balcony tables and bar. The classy interior is matched by the seasonal food, and fine wines and craft ales on tap. But the four other pubs within Primrose Hill’s borders – The Pembroke Castle, The Engineer, The Lansdowne and the Princess of Wales - are also perfect for a quick drink or a decent sit-down meal.
Nightlife: Nearby Camden has plenty to offer with a buzzing late-night scene of bars, live music and clubs.
Entertainment and culture: Cecil Sharpe House on Regent’s Park Road is England’s folk arts centre, with a busy programme of music and dance events and workshops. Housed in a former Methodist chapel just over the tracks on Prince of Wales Road, the Zabludowicz Collection presents contemporary art installations from emerging artists. Not far away in Camden is the Roundhouse, which has played host to many music legends. It’s now the home of the BBC Electric Proms and numerous festivals, concerts and shows. The Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park is one of the oldest such venues in the world, putting on concerts and plays alike.
Events: The Primrose Hill Festival has a summer and winter outing with Regent’s Park Road closed off to traffic, and even includes a dog show.
- The main drag of shops, restaurants and bars is at the northern end of Regent’s Park Road. Gloucester Avenue also has a nice selection of boutique stores, including La Petit Poissonnerie fishmonger and wine merchants, and cupcake emporium Primrose Bakery.
- The farmers’ market in St Paul’s School playground is open from 10am to 3pm every Saturday. It has more than 50 stalls featuring fresh fish, local honey and cheeses, organic meat and homemade pasta.
- London Zoo is a 10-minute walk away, and unlimited-entry memberships start at £123 a year.
- Fierce Grace brought Bikram Yoga to the UK in 1994, and has created a system of five interconnected yoga classes to suit all ages and fitness levels. Find them on Queen’s Crescent.
- Melrose and Morgan on Gloucester Avenue is a deli, café and grocers all rolled into one. It stocks everything you might need for an evening’s entertainment, and the morning after’s breakfast.
Well, that would be Primrose Hill. This pretty open space is all about the view. Take it all in by sitting on the grass and letting any unwanted stress subside. Considering it’s only 213 feet high, it’s astonishing how many landmarks you can pick out, from London Zoo in the foreground to Big Ben, the BT Tower and the London Eye in the middle distance and on to Crystal Palace on the far horizon.
Little changes in this part of town, due in part to much of the area being protected by a conservation order. This protects its supply of well-preserved and maintained Victorian properties.
Rail: Since the closing of Primrose Hill station in 1992, it’s an 18-minute walk to Camden Road station, with eight trains an hour to Stratford (25 mins). South Hampstead station is a 25 minute walk away, with three trains an hour to Euston (10 mins).
Tube: Chalk Farm underground station is an eight minute walk from the hill itself, and is on the Edgware branch of the Northern line. Camden Town tube is around 15 minutes’ walk in the other direction.
Bus: The 31, 274 and C11 all run nearby. Camden and Swiss Cottage have many more buses passing through.
Road: Parking is on the road for most houses, but streets within Primrose hill are quiet. Once outside, north London’s main routes tend to be congested at peak times.
Cycle: Cycling in the area is pleasant, with the Regent’s Canal cycle path a useful and quiet method for getting around. There’s also a TFL bike hire station on Gloucester Avenue.
Getting away: By car, you can get to St Pancras International in 10 minutes, the M1 in 20, Heathrow in 45 and City Airport in 50. Public transport gets you to St Pancras International in 20 minutes, City Airport in an hour and Heathrow in 70 minutes.
Primrose Hill Primary, St Paul’s Church of England, Rhyl Primary and Hawley Primary, as well as St Christina’s Catholic Primary School in nearby St John’s Wood are top Primary School options. For secondary education, Haverstock School in Chalk Farm and Regent High School in Camden are state options, while the independent Fine Arts College is close by in Hampstead.
For more information on schools in this area, please see our education resource.
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