If you're thinking of booking a hotel near Hampstead Heath with Lastminute.com make time to explore one of London's best-loved open spaces which takes in ponds, ancient woodland and a lido.
Hampstead Heath consists of around 790 acres of open space that is home to a rich array of wildlife including kingfishers, kestrels, woodpeckers, bats, grass-snakes and deer. Take in the stunning views of London as you stroll from Hampstead to Highgate. Take in a dip in one of three natural swimming pools, two of which are open all-year round, or the lido. Hire a bike and follow a trail.
There are lots of sports pitches and facilities including a running track. Or pack a picnic and get away from the crowds. Visit Golders Hill Park within the heath which has a zoo and butterfly house and don't miss Kenwood House which neighbours the heath, finding time to see sculpture by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth on the way. Entrance to this former stately house is free and it houses a magnificent art collection including paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Gainsborough and Turner.
Arts and culture
One of the best-known residents of Hampstead Heath was Sigmund Freud who lived here after he fled from the Nazis in 1938 until he died in 1939. It is now the Freud Museum, the centrepiece of which is his study which is preserved exactly as it was in his lifetime. See the famous couch, which he had brought over from Austria, on which his patients would lie while undergoing psychoanalysis.
The study is also filled with antiquities discovered in ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and the Orient. Did you know that Freud was a compulsive when it came to collecting historical artefacts?
Things to see and do
Another famous Heath resident was the poet John Keats and the home where he lived for two years, from 1818 until 1820 before leaving for Italy, is open to the public. As well as browsing the restored Regency interior that he would have known you can visit the garden where he composed Ode to a Nightingale. There are regular poetry readings and a display about Fanny Brawne, his sweetheart.
And, a little over 15 minutes' walk from Hampstead Heath is Highgate Cemetery with its rich collection of funerary monuments dating back to Victorian times and including the tombs of Karl Marx, George Eliot and Radclyffe Hall. The West Cemetery can only be entered on a guided tour.
Eating and drinking
There's no shortage of great places to eat in and around Hampstead Heath. Try La Cocotte for rustic French cuisine. This neighbourhood bistro serves slow-cooked classics such as coq au vin, pork Provençal and fisherman's stew. Or sample Mimmo La Bufula for chic Italian dining.
And for a great local, make tracks for the Holly Bush, a former 18th-century house built for the painter George Romney. Grab a drink and relax in one of three low-ceilinged bars.
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