Mother Shipton prophesied that when Primrose Hill became the centre of London’s sprawling metropolis, the streets would run red with blood.
Considering the rate of the capital’s expansion, we advise visiting now before it’s too late.
Not just because of the whole armageddon thing, of course, but because there’s a host of restaurants, bars, cafés and shops worth your attention. Here are the best…
THINGS TO DO IN PRIMROSE HILL
The star attraction, one of the eight royal parks of London and one of six protected viewpoints in the city. Like its regal neighbour, Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill was once a hunting ground for Henry VIII. Purchased from Eton College in 1841 to provide North London’s poor with access to outdoor recreational space, it has, in recent years, become the preserve of the wealthy again, with the area surrounding the park considered some of the most sought after property in the capital.
It’s the viewpoint that makes up most people’s reason for visiting. The summit stands at 63m, affording top notch views of central London below. At the south side of the hill is a children’s play area, the trim trail for callisthenics connoisseurs who prefer not to pay gym membership, and a small running track with a petanque pitch next door. The gentle incline to the hill makes for a superb summer sunbed and on the rare occasion that winter affords us snow, impromptu sledding competitions have been known to take place there.
Details: Primrose Hill is open at all hours, except Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve where it closes at 9pm and 1pm respectively.
The sheds of Primrose Hill once held horses awaiting passengers from Regent’s Park. Nowadays they’re full of far more relaxing pursuits; one being the popular boutique spa, Cowshed. They offer manicures and pedicures in their restored farmhouse kitchen, and for full relaxation you can descend into one of their six tranquil treatment rooms below. Hands and feet can be touched up from £35 and a full body service will be in excess of £100. After all that taxing relaxation you can treat yourself to a host of juices, smoothies, and healthy plates from their ‘Morning Graze’ and ‘Midday Feed’ menus.
Details: 115-117 Regent’s Park Rd, Primrose Hill, London NW1 8XP | Open Mon-Wed 9am-8pm, Thurs-Fri 9am-9pm, Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 9:30am-5pm
You’ll find a number of small boutiques along the main road and tucked away on side streets. For foodies there’s the iconic butcher Jack O’Shea and French/Japanese fusion fishmonger La Petite Poissonnerie, both serving up fresh ingredients, with Anthony’s Delicatessen a few doors down ready to fill your cupboards. For fashionistas there’s Pamela Shiffer, Anna, and a few choice charity shops selling garments the gentry don’t want – on a good day it’s not unlikely to find an unwanted Viviene Westwood for your wardrobe. No quaint high street is complete without a produce market, and Primrose Hill’s takes place every Saturday from 10am-3pm.
PRIMROSE HILL RESTAURANTS
A longstanding feature of the area – 40 years in fact – Odette’s is an intimate and charming eatery. Owned and run by Welsh chef Bryn Williams, whose tutelage at Le Gavroche and The Criterion set him in good stead to take over in Primrose Hill. The menu serves up understated modern British and European fare, with a rotating lunch menu to reflect the seasons and the quality of the produce Mr Williams can get his hands on. It does have a Michelin plate (which has to be the fanciest best effort prize going) but is a good suggestion that the food served will almost certainly be cleaned off it.
Details: 130 Regent’s Park Road, NW1 8XL | Open Tues-Fri 12:30-2:30pm & 6-10pm, Sat-Sun 12-3pm & 6-10:30pm
Housed within a Grade II listed horse tunnel this modern eatery is a neigh…bourhood restaurant in more ways than one. There’s an open fire, a conservatory, and a dedicated martini bar, giving it full marks on the fancypants-o-meter. The original is in Chiswick, which should give you a fairly quick picture of the vibe. But with soft shell crab, through guinea fowl lasagne to fillet of Welsh lamb, there’s something for most on this smart contemporary European menu. READ MORE
Details: 42 Gloucester Avenue, Primrose Hill, NW1 8JD | Open daily for lunch and dinner from noon
Another landmark of the Primrose Hill High Street, Lemonia’s green frontage and Greek lettering have greeted visitors and locals for 40 years now. Step inside and it’s like a mini break to Naxos. Vines adorn the walls, climbing over ceramic paintings of potted lemon trees. The atmosphere is rowdy (and that’s just the waiters) and the food is plentiful – the only thing missing is smashed crockery. Its reputation may have fluctuated over the years, but the fun and energetic feel of this north London taverna has endured.
Details: 89 Regent’s Park Road, Primrose Hill, London NW1 8UY | Open Mon-Sat 12-3pm & 6-11pm, Sun 12-3:30pm
The perfect spot for brunch after a hike up the hill, Greenberry is a café-cum-restaurant that does, brunch, lunch, and larger plates with aplomb. Brunch is served daily 9-3pm, where you’ll find eggs done all ways and a number of loaded sourdough toast options. The lunch menu is light and breezy, leaving you in the right state should you want to continue your day with a stroll in the park or have dinner at one of the nearby restaurants.
Details: 101 Regent’s Park Road, Primrose Hill, London NW1 8UR | Open Tues-Sat 9am-10pm, Sun-Mon 9am-3pm
York & Albany
Once a stop off for cabs & coaches, it’s now mostly buggies and prams in this old coaching inn and stables. Colonised into the Gordon Ramsay empire in the late naughties, the York & Albany offers modern British grub in an impressive setting. The Victorian townhouse doubles as a hotel and to ensure they keep up with their edgy neighbour Camden, they’ve recently installed a pizza deli into the old stables.
Details: 127-129 Parkway, Primrose Hill, London NW1 7PS | Open Mon-Thurs 7am-12am, Fri-Sat 7am-1am, Sun 7am-11pm
PRIMROSE HILL PUBS
Parked on the edge of the park, this elegant Young’s boozer serves up bangers & mash, fish & chips, scotch eggs, and comes replete with a solid selection of ales and beers. Newly refurbished, it’s now got outdoor heaters if you’re desperate to get that park-life view whilst taking in a tipple.
Details: 49 Regent’s Park Road, Primrose Hill, London NW1 8XD | Open Mon-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 12-10:30pm
The Princess of Wales
It’s the definition of a gastropub: dark wood, spacious modern decor, slightly quirky rococo chairs with faux velvet upholstery, and a bin full of new world wines – giving it an international feel. The food is solid, erring towards very good but not mind blowing, and it’s a thoroughly pleasant place to stay and sink a few jars. There’s three floors and a very quirky patio hidden below, which separates this pub from the crowd. They even host their own cocktail classes.
Details: 22 Chalcot Road, Primrose Hill, London NW1 8LL | Open Mon-Fri 11am-12am, Sat 10am-12am, Sun 10am-11:30pm
Rustic and pared back, the Lansdowne looks like it’s stepped straight out the 50s. It was actually opened in 1992, but it has a timeless feel and a British/Mediterranean menu that changes most days. Pizza ovens are a must these days for any chic modern pub and the Lansdowne is no different. It also serves day-long roasts on a Sunday.
Details: 90 Gloucester Ave, Primrose Hill, London NW1 8HX | Open everyday 12-11pm
The Pembroke Castle
With a nice beer garden to the side, the castle is a welcoming stronghold. It’s on the borders of the neighbourhood and makes a perfect stop off if you’re heading from nearby Chalk Farm station. Spacious and relaxed in the day they a host, well, a host of events in the evenings which see it fill up.
Details: 150 Gloucester Ave, Primrose Hill, NW1 8JA | Open Mon-Thurs 11am-11:30pm, Fri-Sat 11am-12am, Sun 11am-10:30pm
Last Updated: 15th July 2019 | Main image: Mike Rolls/Flickr
Like exploring a new area? Head down the hill to Camden Town