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Oarsome Hammersmith: Things to do in Hammersmith

Last updated on February 25th, 2021 at 11:39 am

There’s so much more to Hammersmith than getting hammered during the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. This corner of west London has been my home for the last eight years, and as a local, I can tell you there are plenty of fun, relaxing and exciting things to do in Hammersmith. Here are 13 reasons why you should visit this London beauty spot.

Please note: the Oxford and Cambridge 2021 Boat Race will be closed to spectators. 

things to do in Hammersmith

13 oarsome things to do in Hammersmith

It’s perfect for a riverside amble

Start your walk at the base of Hammersmith Bridge. Head up Lower Mall into Furnivall Gardens and onto Upper Mall. Sleepy canal boats hug the riverbank as you wander past bulging pubs and handsome houses. This dreamy outpost has inspired painters and writers, including JMW Turner, who once had a studio here.

things to do in Hammersmith, riverside, Upper Mall

Fancy a pint with ghosts of Hammersmith past?

If only the walls of the Dove pub could speak. It was a favourite haunt of Dylan Thomas and Ernest Hemingway, and a little birdie tells us Alec Guinness liked a pint of – you guessed it – Guinness. The pub is also home to the world’s smallest bar room.

Dove pub, world's smallest bar

It has some of London’s best pubs

If you’re looking for a pub crawl, then look no further than Hammersmith. The prettiest ones are along the river, starting at the Hammersmith Bridge end: The Blue Anchor (where Sliding Doors was filmed), The Rutland (my daughter swears by their chips), The Dove (my local), The Old Ship and The Black Lion, home to one of London’s only skittle alleys.

pubs in Hammersmith

Get Artsy and Craftsy

William Morris lived in Kelmscott House, a jaw-dropping Georgian house on Upper Mall. It’s a private home now, but you can visit the William Morris Gallery next door. This place also marks the spot of the first electric telegraph in the UK.

William Morris Gallery

Further down on Hammersmith Terrace is the small but perfectly formed Emery Walker House. The Arts and Crafts home is a William Morris time capsule and stuffed full of original furniture, flooring, artwork and home accessories. The house is open from March to November, and you can book a tour here.

Emery Walker House

Live la Dolce Vita

Listen up now, as I’m about to tell you about one of our best neighbourhood hangouts. It looks like a pretty local greengrocer outside, but step inside Mari Delicatessen and that’s it: you’re in Italia now. It serves top-notch coffee and it’s a sea of biscotti, cake, chocolate, bread, cheese, meat, antipasti and homemade pasta. There’s even an impressive vegan and gluten-free counter.

things to do in Hammersmith

It has groundbreaking productions

Perched at the top of King Street, the Lyric Hammersmith is west London’s cultural hub with an innovative repertoire. The multipurpose venue houses two theatres, a cinema, art gallery, studios and rehearsal rooms.

things to do in Hammersmith

Eat in Jamie Oliver’s old pew

Back in 1997, a fresh-faced sous-chef was chopping up a storm in the River Café  – his name was Jamie Oliver, and the rest is history. Today, the River Café is run by Ruth Rodgers and designed by her rather famous husband. architect Richard Rogers. It will cost you a pretty penny to eat in this Michelin-star, riverfront restaurant, but it’s worth it. Don’t even think about leaving without trying the chocolate nemesis.

things to do in Hammersmith

Nurse your inner gardener

The award-winning W6 Garden Centre and Café is a tranquil oasis, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of King Street. It may not look like much from the outside, but step inside and it’s an urban jungle of pots, plants, garden furniture and accessories.  Did I mention the organic café where pooches are welcome? And there’s a special kids’ menu with pizzettas, eggie cheese toastie and homemade chocolate spread on toast. Ravenscourt Park is on the doorstep, so you can burn off all the calories with a lovely, brisk walk.

Tantalise your tastebuds in London’s most eclectic café

Café by day, and Moroccan/Tunisian restaurant by night, Adam’s Café is my favourite neighbourhood restaurant. It’s owned and run by Frances and Abdel Boukraa, and our family has been addicted to the café’s Briks, Tagines, Couscouses and Bakhlawa pastries since 1992. It’s in Shepherd’s Bush I hear you say. OK, technically it is, but it’s only a merguez’s throw away from the border, so cross over and thank me after! You won’t regret wandering into this little gem.

things to do in Hammersmith, Adam's Cafe

Tea back in time

Fancy a cuppa in 1920s London? Step into Betty Blythe, a vintage tea room where you can drop in for tea and cake or settle down for the full works. Choose from the Glamorous Great Gatsby, After Wonderland, Betty’s Little Tea for the whippersnappers, or a Traditional Victorian if the 1920s style is too avantgarde! In the Boudoir downstairs you’ll find dressing-up boxes and vintage accessories, perfect for birthday and hen parties.

Afternoon Tea Hammersmith

Say hello to Capability Brown

Gardener extraordinaire and “England’s greatest landscape gardener” Lancelot “Capability” Brown lived in Hammersmith for 13 years.  As you amble along the river Thames from Putney towards Hammersmith, you will come across his statue.  Capability Brown was responsible for some 170 exquisite gardens, most notably Hampton Court, Chatsworth, Blenheim Palace and Syon House down the road. In 1764, he left Hammersmith for Hampton Court when he was appointed Royal Gardener by King George III.

Capability Brown, statue

Take a seat on Bottom’s bench

For many, Hammersmith is synonymous with the 1990s comedy ‘Bottom,’ starring Adrian Edmondson and the late, great Rik Mayall. Just outside Hammersmith Broadway tube station, you can take a pew on a replica of the bench which stars in the sitcom’s opening credits. Be warned though: you might be tempted to start shouting a few obscenities!

Rik Mayall, Bottom

And the most Oarsome reason of all….

Oxford and Cambridge, Boat Race, Hammersmith

Of course: the races. Hammersmith will be flooded with visitors for our annual fixture: the 2019 Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. Furnivall Gardens is where it’s all happening, marking the halfway point in the race. There are several pubs from which you can watch, or you can take a pew in Furnivall and watch the race on the big screens. The Women’s Race starts at 2.13pm and the Men’s at 3.10pm. Don’t you love British precision? Cambridge led with 83 wins to Oxford’s 80. Who will  you support this year?

See you at the races!

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