I didn’t think summer would visit London this year. After a chilly May it seemed the sun would never come and play. But things warmed up in June and by July 1st we saw record-breaking temperatures in the capital. Now that it’s officially summer, Londoners are spilling outdoors and refusing to go back inside. And one of the best places to go in the summer is a hidden little London neighborhood called South End Green.
Wedged between Hampstead, Belsize Park, and Hampstead Heath, South End Green’s diminutive size belies its appeal. Take the pubs, for example. It not only has one on every corner, but many of them attract locals from all over north London.
The Garden Gate has one of the best beer gardens in the city, The Stag some of the best pub food, and The Magdala the best lore—the last woman to be hanged in Britain, Ruth Ellis, shot her boyfriend here, and there are still holes in the wall to prove it (The Magdala is currently closed but is slated to reopen soon).
South End Green has some impressive institutions, too. One of London’s few outlets of the beloved Daunt Books is here, and while it lacks the stunning interior of its Marylebone counterpart, it still has a great selection of books and a strong travel section. Around the corner is the Keats House museum, where poet John Keats lived and wrote his famous poem “Ode to a Nightingale”.
And that’s to say nothing of South End Green’s restaurants and cafes, many of which have been open for decades. I love getting pastries from Euphorium Bakery and browsing the outdoor takeaway offerings from Mimmo La Bufala. For traditional tea rooms, Polly’s is just the thing, and for chic cafes it’s all about the new Silverberry Deli & Kitchen.
But the real draw of South End Green is Hampstead Heath. The neighborhood is home to the Overground station of the same name, and is one of the main jumping off points for rambles in the hills of the wooded park. Parliament Hill, with its expansive views of the city, is a short walk away from the station, as are the famous bathing ponds, which sit ready for those brave enough to jump in on sunny afternoons.
For those of us that prefer to stay dry, South End Green has some great foodie options for lazy picnics on the heath. From M&S on Pond Street to Le Pain Quotidien on South End Road—I’ve pre-ordered countless picnic boxes from them over the years—there are plenty of places to pick up snacks and treats for a feast on the grass that lasts until the sun goes down.
And when it does, South End Green’s pubs fill with people wandering back to the city from the wilds of the heath. The terrace at The Roebuck and the huge outdoor space at The Stag fill with those wanting to soak up the summer heat and stay outdoors as long as the sun will allow. And for the time being, it looks like the sun will allow it for a little while longer. Here’s to summer in London.