Spaniard’s Inn, Hampstead Heath
Founded in 1582, this Inn is near Kenwood House, and is situated opposite an old toll gatehouse, creating an infamous bottleneck for modern-day traffic. Be careful on the northern side of the road, as you literally need to time your jump round to the entrance with the rate of cars coming behind you if you have walked up form Hampstead.
Legendarily a haunt of Dick Turpin, as well as later literary greats, Spaniards has an unassuming exterior leads inside to a passage with two nooks either side, and a dining room upstairs. The interior unfortunately doesn’t seem to have many period features left, and instead is sporting a bland stained wood and cream walls with a low ceiling concealing the air-conditioning.
I visited late Sunday, and the sunday lunch offer was in full swing, with some delicious-looking and smellnig food being served as fast as they could carve it. The clientele was mainly monied locals, as well as Kenwood House visitors and a smattering of motorbike tourers. This was reflected in the prices – £18 for a sunday roast.
The beer selection was dominated by craft beer and premium lagers on tap, with a modest selection of real ales on hand-pull. I was moderately disturbed to see a Mewantime Pale Ale being served as a lager with an intentionally large head. I settled for a cider and reteated to one of the nooks with a book.
All in all, it is now an upmarket gastro-pub, but little to tell about its renaissance beginnings.