Hammersmith & Fulham has always been one of London’s most exciting boroughs, and that’s largely thanks to it being a fascinating, lively blend of two neighbourhoods which officially came together back in 1965. Hammersmith is an artsy, riverside area brimming with eclectic art and music venues, whilst Fulham is famed for its fashionable shopping, high-class delis and luxurious drinking dens.
The origins of the neighbourhood go all the way back to the 12th century when Hammersmith was a chapelry that was part of Fulham before becoming an independent parish in 1631. When the two areas were combined in the 60s they were given the name ‘The London Borough of Hammersmith’, but the residents of Fulham weren't too happy about that, as, historically speaking, Fulham existed first. Fortunately, a compromise was reached and this dynamic part of the capital has been going strong ever since.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at just some of what’s on offer here...
Free to visit, Fulham Palace is a majestic, Grade I listed building that’s truly a sight to behold. The building’s architecture dates back to the Tutor, Georgian and Victorian eras and it’s quite something to see these rooms up close and personal (including the Tudor great hall, the Victorian chapel and the Bishop’s Library), whilst the thirteen acres of botanic gardens are the second largest in London. Right on the edge of the Thames, this is a great day out, equal parts relaxing, informative and inspirational.
First opening its doors way back in 1895, the Lyric Theatre has a long and proud history of putting on innovative, crowd-pleasing work that’s always of an exemplary standard. Considered by many to be the creative heart of West London, there’s something for everyone, whether it’s an acclaimed performance aimed at kids, cutting-edge drama for adults or extravagant musicals for just about everyone. There’s also cinema, dance classes and a fantastic roof garden, complete with a bar and restaurant. One of London’s true greats.
Established in 1886, Queens Tennis Club is now famous for the pre-Wimbledon championship matches held in June. Attracting the world’s best players, tickets are affordable, the atmosphere is electric and, as such, it’s become a hugely important sporting fixture in its own right. This ultimately means that, for a few weeks every year, this part of West Kensington really comes alive, with crowds enjoying the tennis and also frequenting the surrounding pubs and restaurants, part of an event that’s come to encapsulate British summertime at its best. Think champagne, fashion and sporting excellence, and you’re looking at a truly special occasion.
For over a century, Shepherd’s Bush Market has been an essential and hugely positive part of life in the area, providing locals and visitors with fresh, high-end and affordable produce six-days a week. And while the markets at Camden or Brick Lane may garner more attention, this one has quietly developed a reputation for the sheer quality of what’s on offer. Everything from the street food, the fabric and clothing, to the homewares and furnishings, are second-to-none, but, ultimately, it’s the welcoming, easy-going ambience that makes this such a pleasurable way to while away a few hours.
Food for Thought
Our tips for outstanding dining in Hammersmith & Fulham.
The River Cafe is famous for a reason. An Italian eatery dedicated to providing a superlative experience, year after year this remains one of the capital’s favourites. The seasonal menu is an impressive combination of traditional dishes and experimental fare, with an emphasis on big flavours, excellent wine and, of course, world-class desserts.
Considered by many to be the best Indian restaurant in Fulham, Nayaab is friendly and personable, serving up superlative classics and contemporary dishes in a welcoming, intimate dining room. Known for their outstanding vegetarian options, Nayaab consistently sets the standard, and, as such, has become a local staple, doing a roaring trade seven nights a week, every week.
London’s only Michelin-starred pub, this strikes an impressive balance between being a high-class restaurant and an easy-going, community-led boozer. That’s to say, you can just as easily sit at the bar and have a beer with a Scotched egg as you can order a slow-cooked Sika deer shoulder or a roast Cornish Monkfish. Increasingly popular, it’s easy to see why…
Azou delivers the very best in Moroccan, Turkish and Albanian cuisine, featuring a menu that’s, quite simply, a masterclass in the kind of flavours and textures that define and celebrate that part of the globe. The decor is flamboyant, but the experience is relaxed, invigorating and fun. For lamb, chicken and merguez that positively sing with flavour, Azou are up there with the very best. Not to be missed.
Hammersmith & Fulham is well served by a range of transport links, including the District, Central and Hammersmith & City, and Piccadilly lines. There’s also a series of jogging, walking and cycling routes that criss-cross the area, ensuring travel into and around the city is always quick and efficient.
Business and Education
Hammersmith & Fulham is home to a number of financial, software and media companies, including GE, Disney and L’Oreal. Educational institutions include Lincoln College, London Community College of London and the William Morris Academy.