North-west: My perfect London day out by the West Hampstead blogger

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The most popular attraction in north-west London is undoubtedly Hampstead Heath. This beautiful and ancient expanse of greenery pulls crowds from across the capital whenever there's a hint of sunshine – and local dog walkers in all climatic conditions. But if I want something different to do – especially if the weather turns out to be, er, "inclement" for the time of year – I'm never short of options.

I might start out in the 'burbs at the spectacular Neasden Temple It's the largest functioning Hindu temple outside India and is open to visitors, although it's worth checking the times. Hopefully I'll have time to grab an early lunch at the highly recommended on-site restaurant.

Next up is a triple bill of Hampstead houses. Sigmund Freud didn't live in Hampstead that long himself: he died here in 1939 having fled Austria in 1938, but his house on Maresfield Gardens was in the family for more than 40 years. It now houses the Freud Museum ( and contains the original psychoanalytic couch. This is a residential Hampstead street, so I can also take a peek at today's well-heeled inhabitants.

A short walk away is Keats House ( The poet prodigy lived here from 1818 to 1820, and it's where he wrote Ode to a Nightingale and met Fanny Brawne. The original girl-next-door lived in the adjoining residence – also part of this museum. The couple's engagement ring is on display in the museum.

Completing my Hampstead tour is one of my favourite north-west London museums: 2 Willow Road ( was the home of architect (and arch-villain, in the eyes of local resident Ian Fleming) Erno Goldfinger. Like any architect worth his salt, Goldfinger designed his own home, which meant knocking down some cottages that Fleming apparently liked. Goldfinger (you can't say it without bursting into a bit of Shirley Bassey, right?) also designed pretty much everything inside the house too. It's a modernist wet dream and worth doing the guided tour to appreciate all the details.

North-west London isn't all about Hampstead luminaries, though. I can skip Highgate cemetery, where Karl Marx is buried, and instead dive down through my own neighbourhood of West Hampstead, which is chock full of cafes, bars, and restaurants. I often find myself in the excellent and independent West End Lane Books (, and defy anyone to come out empty-handed. I'd either have a coffee at The Wet Fish Cafe (, also on West End Lane, or a glass of wine down the road at La Brocca (, or at The Gallery (, round the corner on Broadhurst Gardens.

As evening draws on, I'd make my way to the lively (and, yes, slightly edgier) Kilburn. It was once home to some notable music venues, but the cultural highlight now is the Tricycle Theatre (, which houses both an arthouse cinema and a highly acclaimed theatre. Many of its productions transfer to the West End.

Full to the brim with highbrow culture I'd embrace Kilburn's cosmopolitan vibe with dinner on Kilburn High Road at either Ariana II, a BYOB Afghan restaurant (, or Ammis Curry (, where the Sri Lankan street food is guaranteed to blow my tastebuds but definitely not my wallet.

• Jonathan Turton blogs at,

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