Belsize Park benefits from both the nightlife and liveliness of Camden and green open spaces of Hampstead. This so called village, popular with celebrities, is filled with delightful shops and cafes and lends itself well to romantic visions of London.
Nutshell history: Belsize Park derives its name from ‘Bel assis’, meaning beautifully situated in French. It started as a subdivision of Hampstead and was not always as chic as it is today. “In the 1960s it was quite a rundown area and was regarded as Hampstead’s poorer brother,” remarks Nick Collins, Partner at Hadleigh estate agency. “Following the property boom in the late 1970s and 80s, the area progressively improved and in the last 20 years has created a unique identity for itself”.
Reference point: North London, NW3. South of Hampstead, west of Kentish Town (see map).
Transport: Belsize Park station on the Northern line. 14 minute tube journey to central London’s Tottenham Court Road. For more information: tfl.gov.uk
WHAT THE ESTATE AGENTS SAY…
Architecture? All sorts – stucco fronted villas, red brick Victorian detached and semi detached and mews houses. “The white stucco fronted villas enhanced with plaster and ironwork details are extremely popular,” - Tessa Lang, Lettings Manager at Des Res. “Inside many of these properties are the gracious proportions of a past age with high ceilings, curved walls, stunning staircases and long windows. Then there are also the Victorian detached and semi detached residences with big gardens.”
Who’s buying in the area? “Film director Tim Burton and actress Helena Bonham-Carter for one. The area has always attracted, in their turn and era, affluent families seeking the space, outlook and privacy of a country home with easy access to central London, as well as up and coming types of all professions: legal, banking and creative and literary sectors,” - Lang, Des Res.
“It’s an eclectic mix of young professionals, investors, foreign buyers and a number of celebrities,” - David Stern, Director at Parkheath.
Best residential roads? “Eton Avenue and Belsize Park Gardens are probably the area’s most well known and desirable roads, but there are lots of little known turnings and hidden gems where you come across some spectacular properties.
Property prices? “The average price for an apartment in the area’s most desirable roads, would be circa £1,000 per sq ft with a typical first floor, three bedroom apartment costing in the region of £1.3M to £1.4M. Occasionally an entire house comes available where you would be looking at £5M to £8M depending on size and condition,” – Collins, Hadleigh.
Bargain hunting? “South End Green is an area just east of Belsize Park and very close to Hampstead Heath but still in the NW3 postcode. It is slightly less expensive than Belsize Park,” - Stern, Parkheath.
Local schools? “My two sons attended a local independent school, Hereward House, which has been their launch pad to Oxford University,” says Tessa Lang, Lettings Manager at Des Res. “Local parents will find an array of the best independent schools on offer, from nursery through to A-Level. I also welcome the new Academy, which is bringing in a surge of vibrant young families as well as the two new Lycees in nearby Kentish Town,” - Lang, Des Res.
Final Word: “Belsize Park appeals to a wide cross section of people yet all will have one common trait: “They will be looking to enjoy the quiet appeal of these wide tree lined streets whilst being within easy reach of the City and West End,” - Collins, Hadleigh.
EATING, DRINKING AND GENERAL MERRY-MAKING…
For breakfast: Try Chamomile on England’s Lane – a popular street in the area with its independent shops and coffee. Tasty breakfast options including homemade American Pancakes and Smoked Scottish Salmon with scrambled eggs and rustic toast, will have you coming back again and again.
For Lunch: If you’re after a quick bite on the go,The Belsize Village Delicatessen (020 7794 4258), a quaint local deli, specialises in fresh produce from cheese, meets and olives to soups, sandwiches and tarts.
For Dinner: For a tasty meal, head to pan-Asian restaurant and bar, XO, on Belsize Lane, at the heart of Belsize Village. Appetisers range from a generous portion of edamame beans to a selection of Dim Sum steamed to perfection. A portion of Pad Thai, as a main comes with fresh chillies, ground nuts and bean sprouts – yum!
More to explore: Another busy part of Belsize Park is Haverstock Hill. It extends from Belsize Lane to Chalk Farm and a wide range of attractions can be found here. The Everyman Cinema at 203 Haverstock Hill shows a good selection of blockbusters as well as less known art house cinema.
A hidden gem in the area is sculptor and artist Henry Moore’s old studio at Mall Studios, 6 Tasker Road. Moore and other artists including John Skeaping, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson all worked at these hidden studios which are delightful to walk around today.
Did you know… The lyrics of Engelbert Humperdinck’s 1968 hit go:
Les bicyclettes de Belsize
Carry us side by side
And hand in hand we will ride,