Top places to live in Hertfordshire St Albans
Not only is St Albans one of the country's most beautiful small cities, it's also bursting with great pubs, restaurants, independent shops, and a good dose of community spirit. That might also be why a pad here can cost you. Top 200 Places to Live series.
This perfectly proportioned small city (it has a cathedral, don’t you know) was named as one of The Sunday Times‘s ‘Best Places to Live’ in 2020, so its star is flying high right now. The historic centre – all ancient religious buildings and cobbled streets – gives way to cute rows of terraces. And there’s a lot going on. It’s the perfect choice if you want to get out of (London) town, but still want a super-buzzy scene.
For coffee or brunch, we’d suggest Hatch, or the ever popular George St Canteen. Or, if you just want a bun and a latte, pop in to family bakers Simmons. Of course, if it’s the weekend, you could always go all out with Craft & Cleaver’s indulgent Ribs and Burgers Bottomless Brunch. Lunch at Lussmanns is a good bet, and for a drinks and dinner, it’s got to be Dylans The Kings Arms or THOMPSON.
Lots of lovely independents in St Albans. If you’re looking for gifts, head for Holywell Hill, where you should visit Cositas, which cleverly combines great gifts and interiors with offbeat workshops, such as lampshade making. Further along, you’ll find White Mint – awesome for gifts and party stuff. For vinyl, head for Empire Records in Heritage Close. There’s a great vintage place, Little Viking, in the Courtyard, George Street. Contemporary clothing boutiques The Dressing Room and Chloe James are also a must-visit. If it’s farm shop fare you’re craving (and maybe a coffee to go with it) – head to nearby Carpenter’s Nursery or Smallford Farm Shop. And finally, for artisan cheese, it’s got to be the The Fleetville Larder.
It goes without saying that you must visit the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban while you are here. It boasts the Shrine of St Alban, the longest nave in England, and it really is a gorgeous and unusual mix of architectural styles. Scenes from The Crown were filmed here – it’s that pretty. Verulamium was the third biggest Roman town in Britain and the Verulamium Museum is also a must-visit, before taking a stroll around the glorious Verulamium Park.
There are lots of brilliant independent schools in St Albans, including St Albans High School for Girls (Senior & Prep), St Columba’s College (Co-ed Lower Prep and Sixth Form, Boys Upper Prep and Senior), Beechwood Park (co-ed nursery & prep) and St Albans School (boys, senior sch).
AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE
For a pad on the prized Fishpool Street, you are looking at £800,000+, but there are some great terraces going for closer to the £600k mark. Strutt & Parker and Bradford & Howley are both great agents operating in St Albans.
BEST KEPT SECRET
If markets are your thing, there’s the Charter Market (earliest known opening date sometime in the 9th Century) – with street food at one end and fresh produce and local crafts on the rest of the strip. There’s also a farmer’s market on the second Sunday of each month and the brilliant St Albans Vintage and Antiques Market monthly.
25.6 miles. Fast services will get you to St Pancras in just over 20 minutes. So pretty awesome.
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