Area Guide: Hitchin
PUBLISHED: 09:34 28 November 2016
From the lido to the lavender fields, the popular market town of Hitchin isn't short on attractions.
Historic Hitchin is considered more affordable than St Albans but just as charming, with a mix of large and small properties of many styles and periods.
England and Arsenal star Jack Wilshere is from there, and so is TV journalist Jennie Bond.
Jo Morris, 42, moved a few years ago from St Albans to Hitchin and has totally fallen in love with it.
She loves the leisure and culture opportunities and the community spirit, which sees her and pals on Lancaster Road enjoy summer street parties and a wonderful neighbourhood vibe.
Whether she’s relaxing, swimming or entertaining her two children at the popular outdoor lido, frolicking in the fragrant purple fields of Hitchin Lavender with family and friends - or drinking coffee in the beautiful Hermitage Road café with its stunning interiors, she is happy as Larry. She also adores a lovely little independent gift shop and retro fashion boutique called Rosita Lollipop, in Paynes Park.
Jo said: “Hitchin is referred to as the best kept secret in Hertfordshire. We moved here just over four years ago and were immediately taken by this wonderful town.
“Its quaint town centre sets it apart with its cobbled Market Square and unique offering of High Street names, alongside many independents.
“From restaurants (Hermitage Road is a favourite), coffee shops (The White House) and gift shops (Rosita Lollipop) to clothing (Jolly Brown) and interiors (La Maison Blanc).
“The size of the town (population of 33,000-plus) allows it to retain a real sense of community, which is something we have especially felt on our street, where a group of residents run social events throughout the year, including an acclaimed summer street party.
“And with a wide range of places to visit and things to do – Hitchin Lavender, the lido and the British Schools Museum, to name a few – as a well as a choice of very good schools, it is the perfect place to raise a family. We love it here but sshhhh, don’t tell too many people.”
With country pubs, green spaces for walking and chilling out in and the town market, you are spoilt for choice. You can find Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s and Next, Argos and Boots as well as independents.
Sport and leisure
Other outlets for sport are found in several of the town’s leisure centres and gyms. There are parks all over Hitchin and Windmill Hill is popular for picnics. If you’re into fitness, there are a selection of running clubs with early morning jogging for the brave and keen.
The schools in Hitchin, including Hitchin Boys’ School and Hitchin Girls’ School, are some of the best in the county. As such, it is an attractive place for those with children and estate agents even report waiting lists for viewing properties in certain areas.
Food and drink
Places to eat are plentiful, offering food from a variety of cultures – from large well-known brands such as Zizzi, Pitcher and Piano and Café Rouge to smaller stylish eateries Roberto (a Bancroft-based fresh Italian restaurant), Los Reyes tapas bar and Sukawatee for Asian cuisine.
It’s not too stressful to get to nearby towns and cities – and those further afield – thanks to the well-connected road and rail networks, with Hitchin’s mainline station being half an hour from King’s Cross and the A1(M). And if you ever want to go on holiday, major airports are about an hour away by car/taxi. But why would you really need to go anywhere else, if it’s as good as they say?