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Crêpes, Ricky Gervais, semi-naked bathing and other reasons to visit Hampstead

Posted at 10:15 am, June 7, 2014 in Food & Drink, Fun London
©Oliver Knight

Got a few million in the bank? No? Oh well, you can still visit Hampstead, just for the day.

Why go there?
To pretend you are in ye olde village of the past, and to yomp across the Heath.

What’s the vibe?
A mix of tourists, ageing lefties, actors and incredibly successful people from all over the world in big sunglasses.

What’s that smell?
Money. After that, it’s charred cheese and ham from the fantastic La Crêperie de Hampstead on the High Street. Then it’s money again.

©Jonathan Perugia

Now I need a drink.
Of course you do: you’ve probably just looked in an estate agent’s window. Pop over to the beer garden at the Garden Gate on South End Road. In winter, the Holly Bush (Holly Mount) is the oldest and still the best pub in the area. But if you can bear a ten-minute walk uphill, the Spaniards Inn (Spaniards Road) has a huge garden for the summer and plenty of cosy nooks and crannies for the winter. Slightly hairy walk back in the dark, mind you.

Any local delicacies?
Head towards the Heath and pick up a falafel from Friendly Falafels on South End Green. Or, if you can squeeze in, Japanese meat or veg skewers at the tiny Jin Kichi on Heath Street. Any celebs about? Tons. Something would have to be seriously amiss if you went to Hampstead and didn’t see one. Ricky Gervais, Noel Gallagher, even George Michael, if you’re lucky.

Where’s the party at?
Hmm… it’s not really that much of a party place. Even the one chicken shop closes early. How about a nice sit down, then? Yes! Hampsteadians love a good sit. Ignore the posh chain cafés and head for the metal teapots and gothic script at The Coffee Cup (High Street) or Hampstead Tea Rooms (South End Road).

©Britta Jaschinski

And if I only do one thing?
Visit the Ponds. All Londoners should take a dip there at least once. Avoid the teenage soup that is the mixed pond; the single-sex ponds are oases of calm. Albeit semi-naked oases.

Find more things to do in Hampstead.

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