Why move to Primrose Hill? Think about your new neighbours, for starters: Thames water-baby David Walliams, comedians Jimmy Carr and James Cordon, Jamie Oliver, Rachel Stevens and even Ricky Gervais, who lives close by and walks there regularly. (Ed and David Milliband live there, too, but don’t let that put you off.) It’s always been a favourite place to live for actors, musicians and artists, although many have been priced out as values have been pushed up.
It’s not surprising this eclectic area is so popular with the great and the good. It may be small, but it has a lot going for it: two glorious swathes of green – the eponymous hill and Regent’s Park – bound its edges; stunning views of central London and Hampstead; a great central location; and a true ‘village’ feel with a wide assortment of individual shops, restaurants and cafes, such as Lemonia, Cachao and the iconic Odette’s, owned by chef Bryn Williams.
“It’s very friendly and the nicest thing about Primrose Hill is that all the shops and restaurants are independent, there’s no sign of a Tesco, Gourmet Burger or Pizza Express,” says Mark Pollack, director of leading upscale North West London estate agency Aston Chase. “Although sadly, The Engineer on Gloucester Avenue – which was a really cool pub to go to on a Sunday – has just been sold and was bought by a chain.”
Elsewhere in the row of shops, the Primrose Bakery was in on the ground floor of the cupcake revolution back in 2004; there’s an independent fishmonger and a greengrocer. If you stroll around on any weekend, there is always something of interest going on in the streets, along with families and groups of friends set up in the park enjoying their picnics.
Outside Shepherd Foods every Saturday and Sunday there are two stalls – one sells bread and cakes, the other an amazing selection of cheese. More well-known Primrose Hill haunts are the Melrose and Morgan Delicatessen; The Lansdowne pub, which is usually rammed in warm weather and does great pizzas; L’Absinthe, an excellent and popular restaurant; and Manna, one of the oldest established vegetarian restaurants anywhere in the UK. Anyone into yoga can stretch their mind and body at either Triyoga or Bikram Yoga studios.
The choice of homes in Primrose Hill is primarily either Victorian houses or large flats in converted period buildings. There are some 1970s town houses and the only new build, The Henson flats development in the old Muppet HQ on the edge of Primrose Hill, sold out earlier this year.
“We recently sold an unmodernised 1,400 sq ft non-basement garden flat, which are always in huge demand, in Elsworthy Road for £2m and a 1,700 sq ft flat needing refurbishment in Wadham Gardens for £3.45m,” says Pollack. Both have access to the amazing communal gardens between the two roads.
Buyers target Primrose Hill because they can walk to Marylebone, Regent’s Park, Camden or Belsize Park. Chalk Farm and Swiss Cottage tubes whizz you into central London and the area is popular with young families, young professionals and the older slightly more bohemian purchaser.
“It’s also full of eccentrics, who could be worth £10 – or £10m,” adds Pollack. On New Year’s Eve, the locals climb up to the top of the hill to grab a grandstand view of the annual fireworks display down on the Thames.
With the popularity of the area, many properties sell without ever making it on to the market. A good example is a fabulous house in Fitzroy Road. Aston Chase sold this without the need for formal marketing in early September at a figure close to the asking price of £4.25m. The Victorian property, which had been totally refurbished with Gaggenau kitchen and a Bose sound system, has four bedrooms, three reception rooms, study, walled garden and conservatory.
And Fitzroy Yard, hidden from the road and converted as an upscale private residence with pool, guest house and parking, also sold ‘off market’ in June. The buyers, rumoured to be PR mogul Matthew Freud and wife Elisabeth Murdoch, are thought to have paid £20m.
One property that has just hit the market is a newly refurbished garden-level apartment in Ormonde Terrace, running alongside the Hill. This 1,208 sq ft flat is in a purpose-built portered block and offers two bedrooms, two bathrooms and an open-plan entertaining space leading out into a patio garden – and it could be yours for £1.35m.
For more properties in the Primrose Hill area, contact Aston Chase on 020 7724 4724; or visit the website: astonchase.com