Chiswick is lovely. The camellias are pink with promise, and along the Thames the boat house doors are opening for rowing practice. Golden flowers grace the gardens around the neighborhood, and Chiswick shops, restaurants and museums are welcoming locals and visitors.
Filling a horseshoe bend in the Thames, Chiswick is one of west London’s loveliest neighborhoods.
Similar to village-like Hampstead in the north and leafy Richmond in the south, the area is home to some of the city’s best restaurants, antique shops, and lesser-known aristocratic and artistic landmarks.
Given my love of food, I can think of no better way to start a day out in Chiswick than at the neighborhood’s most famous restaurant, La Trompette.
Michelin starred and thoroughly accoladed, it has long been on my list of places to eat in London.
The three-course lunch menu is surprisingly reasonably priced, and everything from the home cured bresaola with golden beets, smoked curd, and radishes to the caramelized suckling pig with creamed potato, king cabbage, roast parsnips, and quince lives up to La Trompette’s reputation.
Appetite well attended to, I turn my attention to Chiswick’s other highlights. Up on the high street, the Chiswick High Road shops beckon.
The Old Cinema numbers among my favorite Chiswick shops. This place is one of London’s best vintage and antique shops, and I spend the better part of an hour getting lost in its warren of rooms.
M.C. Escher staircases take me up and down through split-level floors of soft velvety chairs, colorful printed fabric, and thick glass bottles as I imagine kitting out my flat to look like a vintage postcard.
Eventually The Old Cinema’s eclectic maze of spaces eases me back out onto the street, and I walk past more Chiswick shops, chi chi furniture stores, and vintage clothing boutiques before making my way down to the Thames.
When I get there, I find myself on the Chiswick Mall, a street full of some of London’s most beautiful houses and riverfront gardens.
The road turns up to the famous Fuller’s Griffin Brewery, a London landmark from 1828 that offers tours on weekdays and has a Chiswick shop selling everything from exclusive ales to cool vintage pub signs.
In the other direction is St Nicholas Church, another piece of Chiswick history. It has a moss-covered cemetery that’s home to the tomb of 18th-century painter, engraver, and satirist William Hogarth.
The peaceful churchyard is down a startlingly pretty street from Hogarth’s House, which is now a museum (just ignore the unfortunately horrible roundabout in between).
Hogarth’s House in Chiswick
I pop into Hogarth’s House for a look around, admiring his famous Gin Lane print, which represents the worst aspects of slum life in 18th-century London.
Next to it is Beer Street, which shows the peace that Hogarth believed could prevail if beer became the staple drink of the poor instead. Hmmmm…
Around the corner from Hogarth’s House is Chiswick House. The former residence of the third Earl of Burlington, this 18th-century neo-Palladian house and its extensive gardens are now English Heritage sites in London.
The gardens—which were the birthplace of the English Landscape Movement and inspired Central Park in New York—offer daily access to the public year-round.
While I’m here, the annual Camellia Show is on in the impressive greenhouse. I take in the pink and red blossoms under the thin white ribs of the glass dome, admiring their beautiful colors.
From there I walk along the garden paths and over bridges, stumbling upon historic temples and their corresponding water features as I go.
I also pop into Chiswick House for a look around. The symmetrical rooms in this stately home reveal sumptuous jewel-tone wall coverings, lots of period paintings, and rich spaces with great views over the gardens below.
Leaving the museum, I head back to the Thames path for a drink at The Dove, one of the riverside pubs between Chiswick and Hammersmith.
Dating back to the 17th century, this Chiswick pub was frequented by the likes of Charles II and his mistress, Nell Gwynne. It’s also been in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the smallest bar room in the world.
But the pub’s real appeal is the cozy historic ambiance and riverfront terrace, two options fitting for the London weather‘s atmospheric vicissitudes.
Chiswick Shops, Restaurants, Museums, and More
Drink finished, I end my day out in Chiswick with a walk along the river, past the pretty parks freckled with flowers, and back home to my own London neighborhood.
I never imagined there was so much to see and do in Chiswick, from the excellent restaurants to the great Chiswick shops and museums.
It merits a trip back to discover the rest of the area, and I will definitely return for more.
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