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Haunted olde-worlde pub in historic Hampstead
Perhaps London's oldest gay pub, the King William IV (aka KW4) remains the gay 'hot spot' of once arty/literary and still beautiful if rather car-overrun Hampstead a north London village which is very much worth visiting in its own right, especially as part of a London Walks tour [see entry]. The pub features an outdoor beer garden and serves food from an extensive English menu — notably a Sunday afternoon carvery — but one of its more appealing aspects is its proximity to Hampstead Heath [see entry], which has been a gay cruising ground since the 19th century. The entire Heath is splendid with winding walks, expansive views of London, Kenwood House [see entry] and men-only and women-only swimming ponds while the exclusively gay-male feature can be found across the road in the West Heath [see Hampstead Heath entry]. The country-pub-like King William IV (aka 'the Willie') turned discreetly gay in the late 1930s, specifically to cater for men visiting the Heath. In the postwar years the pub attracted leathermen, but true to the current climate, the clientele is decidedly now more casual and mixed and, so the story goes, still haunted ever since those murders in the cellar. Doors close at midnight at weekends, with most leaving by about 12.30am.