London might not seem like it on the surface, but the city’s historic palaces and high rise skyscrapers hide a proud listing as an official “green city”. London consists of at least 16% public green space, consisting of parks, squares and nature reserves that tell the city’s history and pave the way for its future. Guests of the best London hotel deals will be spoilt for choice in terms of nearby parks they can visit. Whether east or west, local favourites like Victoria Park and Richmond Park provide a lot of potential for fun in the sun this summer.
But one area that is often overlooked for its greenery but is a definitive staple of the London park scene is Hampstead Heath. Guests of the Montcalm London City would be forgiven for neglecting to visit Hampstead Heath on their first visit to London – it’s a little out of the way on the northern line or Overground for more centrally situated tourists. However, if you can make it out of the city centre, there’s plenty to do and see around this quaint and quintessentially British area of North London.
Hampstead Heath Overview
London’s best kept secret nature reserve, Hampstead Heath spans a hearty 790 acres and has existed as a natural stretch of forestry for thousands of years. Matching recent and ancient woodlands with a beautiful selection of ponds, the Heath is teeming with secret clearings and large fields, making it the perfect picnicking spot.
Hampstead Swimming Ponds
As mentioned above, Hampstead Heath is home to more than 30 different bodies of water, three of them being swimming ponds. Consisting of mens, womens and mixed gender ponds, these three ponds cost £4.25 and £2.55 for concessions for an hour long session of swimming. Visitors with children should bear in mind that swimmers under the age of 15 must be accompanied by an adult.
A popular spot within Hampstead Heath, Parliament Hill rises to 98 metres above sea level and is the perfect place to see great views if you’re a first time guest of accommodation in London City. The panorama takes in much of the central cityscape, and legend has it, was supposed to be the spot at which Guy Fawkes planned to watch his gunpowder plot unfold. Fortunately the 1605 attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament failed, otherwise there might not be much to see on the horizon today!
Golders Hill Park Zoo
Situated on the western edge of Hampstead Heath, Golders Hill Park and Zoo is the perfect spot on the Heath to stop off if you’re visiting with children. The small and free to visit zoo is home to a range of exotic birds and small animals, including Scottish wildcats, lemurs, eagle owls and donkeys. A definite must for small children and adults needing to give their legs a rest!
Hampstead High Street
For those rainy days (it is England afterall), Hampstead has plenty of amenities and shopping opportunities along its high street and surrounding area. The Everyman Cinema and Pentameters Theatre (above the Horseshoe Pub) are popular entertainment venues, whilst the quaint local cafes and stylish restaurants make for a great evening out. With bakeries and tea rooms to rival that of the Montcalm afternoon tea, the Hampstead area is teeming with brilliant things to do, offering a truly village-like charm to London.