There’s so much more to Hammersmith than getting hammered during the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. Here are 12 reasons why you should visit this London beauty spot, my London home for the last 5 years.
This post was updated in March 2019
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.
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.
Fancy a pint with ghosts of Hammersmith past?
If only the walls of the Dove pub could speak. It was a favourite haunt of Charles II, Nell Gwynn, Dylan Thomas and Ernest Hemingway, and a little birdie tells us Alec Guinness liked a pint of – you guessed it – Guinness. Rule Britannia was penned upstairs, and the pub is home to the world’s smallest bar room.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
And the most Oarsome reason of all….
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 lead with 83 wins to Oxford’s 80. Who will you support this year?
See you at the races!
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