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The Student Guide to North London


City Guides


14 July 2023

North London has a lot going for it.

Here is where you’ll find London’s most eclectic neighbourhood in Camden. One of its most desirable neighbourhoods in Hampstead. Two of the most vibrant and diverse enclaves in Finsbury and neighbouring Highbury & Islington. And perhaps the world’s most iconic train platform— Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station.

As a resident at any of our four North London Chapter properties—Highbury, Highbury II, King’s Cross or Islington—the great and good of this part of the capital is on your doorstep.

But where are the best places to visit to experience the true North London?

Let’s explore.

North London has a lot going for it.

Here are our top picks for food, drinks, shopping, entertainment, and leisure. So you can approach student living like a local while maintaining some of that tourist-like excitement

Grabbing a bite to eat

You don’t have to walk far to find a student-friendly restaurant in North London. The multicultural makeup of the area means there’s food from every corner of the globe, and eateries catering to every preference and dietary requirement.

There are so many great food choices that choosing a shortlist was a painful task. But here goes:

Heading out for coffee

Some say that to find the best coffee in London, you have to head east. And while it’s true that East London is a hotspot for lattes and frappuccinos, North London holds its own.

You’ll want to make a habit of visiting the Columbian-Dutch-owned Velasquez and Van Wezel in Crouch End for your filtered coffee or matcha tea. This little cafe is especially nice during summer months when you can sit outside and watch the world go by (or do some studying!).

Another great spot with space to sit and enjoy a range of filtered coffee is Esters in Stoke Newington. Top tip: try the almond milk. The owners make it in-house and it pairs perfectly with a latte and slice of cake.

If you want something a bit closer to home, you can’t go wrong with Black Sheep Coffee. Its shops in Highbury & Islington and King’s Cross (and all over London) serve up a range of coffee and accompanying snacks to satisfy any palette. They’re also ideally located for quenching your thirst on the go as you head to uni.

Going for a night (or day) on the town

Whether you’re heading out for quiet drinks or a big night out, North London has you covered.

Let’s start with perhaps the cosiest pub in all of London, The Holly Bush. Situated on a cobbled street in the heart of Hampstead, it’s the quintessential British boozer. If your ideal afternoon out is enjoying a drink in front of an open fire with a good book, make The Holly Bush a weekend tradition.

For something a little more offbeat, check out Ladies and Gentlemen in Kentish Town. So-called because it’s housed in what used to be public toilets. But don’t let that put you off. The cocktails here are incredible.

While you’re in Kentish Town, pay a visit to The Pineapple for more old-fashioned English pub vibes. And the ironically named Knowhere Special. Which happens to be a very special place, filled with quirky flea market furniture and serving great cocktails.

Finally, if you’re looking for a good local to eat freshly cooked food, watch sports, and join in with a pub quiz, make it The Woodbine Irish pub in Highbury. A good time and a great pint of Guinness is guaranteed.

If it’s late-night bars, clubs and live music venues you’re looking for, head to Camden. That’s where you’ll find some of the most iconic spots in London:

And for a change of scenery (and music) stick to Islington, which is home to two of London’s other prime destinations:

  • Egg London for all-night dance parties in a giant warehouse club
  • Church-come-gig-venue Union Chapel for live music from the hottest bands

Shopping for cool stuff

North London has a good mix of high-street chains and independently owned stores selling a range of goods.

If you want a shopping mall experience, take the Piccadilly line to Wood Green and visit The Wood Green Mall for hundreds of big-name stores and restaurants. You’ll find everything you need here. 

If you fancy a more quirky shopping experience, or want to find something you’d never see in a brand name-filled shopping mall, head to any of these places: 

All three of these shopping destinations make for a great day out. And you’re guaranteed to find something that catches your eye.


Taking time to unwind

You’ve had a long day (or week) of studying, lectures, and coursework, and you want to switch off and escape that world for a while.

What should you do?

How about going for a swim? Hampstead Heath Ponds offer the perfect mix of wild swimming and picturesque views.

If swimming pools rather than ponds are more your thing, Hamstead Heath also has an outdoor pool (we call it a lido), that’s just as refreshing on a hot summer’s day.

After your swim, take a walk up to Parliament Hill for photo-worthy views of the city skyline.

Speaking of walking, North London is well-catered for when it comes to routes for a stroll. Take a walk around the rose gardens at Regent’s Park (home to London Zoo), or the graves of Highgate Cemetery (it’s not as macabre as it sounds).

If you really want to up your step count and practice mindfulness at the same time, walk some (or all) of the 4km route of Parkland Walk—London’s longest nature reserve. It follows an abandoned railway line that once ran from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace and is home to all kinds of wildlife. Look out for the rare muntjac deer.

If you want to swap nature for culture, there are cinemas and theatres aplenty.

The Screen on the Green cinema in Islington is full of history, style, and snug sofas to watch the latest movies on. Equally charming is ArtHouse in Crouch End. Located in an old Salvation Army Hall, it’s a local favourite for classic, independent, and international films.

For performing arts, Sadler’s Wells in Islington is one of the world’s leading dance organisations. And home to homegrown and global talent. The smaller and quirkier Hen & Chickens Theatre Bar in Highbury also houses some of the best performers around, but with a speciality in storytelling via the spoken word.

In short, whatever leisure activity you want to do, you won't need to leave North London to do it.


Studying close to home

Chapter being close to all of the great things North London has to offer when you’re not studying is all well and good. But it’s important that your choice of university is nearby.

We’ve got you covered here too. The following London colleges and universities and within a 25-minute commute of our North London Properties:

Each property is also located close to public transport links, which make the rest of London only a bus, tube, or train ride away.

Start your university Chapter with us

London is the best city in the world. And North London might well be its best part.

Ready to experience it? We’re ready to help you.

Check out our North London properties to see why the Chapter student accommodation is more than a room:

Speak to a member from the Chapter team and we’ll tell you everything you need to know and more.

Join our Chapter community today.

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