The 9 best things to do in Hemel Hempstead
20th January, 2023
Hemel Hempstead is a town located in Hertfordshire, about 24 miles from the North of London. It’s best known for its history and for its traditional English buildings. There are plenty of great things to do in Hemel Hempstead, so read on to know the best things to do in Hemel Hempstead!
- Tourism in Hemel Hempstead- an overview
- What is Hemel Hempstead famous for?
- The best places to stay in Hemel Hempstead
- The best things to do in Hemel Hempstead
- Hemel Hempstead essentials- what to pack
Tourism in Hemel Hempstead- an overview
Tourism in Hemel Hempstead is popular for many reasons, mainly the history and the great number of things to do in Hemel Hempstead. It is very accessible, which attracts tourists from all over the UK – mainly domestic tourists. For example, it is a part of the Grand Union Canal, which means that it’s a part of the British canal system. Therefore, it’s a popular route for narrowboats and is maintained by the Canal & River Trust, which attracts people who are travelling on narrowboats from all over the country.
Hemel Hempstead railway station is located about 1 mile out of the town centre. There are frequent trains running to and from London Euston and the rest of the Midlands, meaning that it is very accessible if you are travelling from London and makes it perfect for a day trip!
The Hemel Hempstead bus station is also situated in the town centre, next to the Marlowes Shopping Centre on Bridge Street. The new bus station was completed in 2014 so has modern features! What’s more, is that there are plenty of local buses that go to neighbouring towns and cities such as London, Luton, Oxford and Burnham-on-Sea – so as you can see, many tourists are attracted to Hemel Hempstead due to its amazingly easy access.
The town is also linked to the M1 motorway to the east and the M25 motorway to the south, making it perfect for tourists who prefer to travel by car. This is also a great way to access all the fantastic things to do in Hemel Hempstead as you may need car access for some.
Weather in Hemel Hempstead is also very tolerable, especially for the UK! On average, the warmest month is July and August, when the highest temperature is about 19°C. The coldest month is January when the coldest temperature is around 3°C. If you’re thinking of visiting Hemel Hempstead, then I would highly suggest that you visit in May-June to avoid the crowds but still have good weather!
What is Hemel Hempstead famous for?
What is Hemel Hempstead famous for? Hemel Hempstead is mainly famous for its history and picturesque looks!
Here’s a brief overview of the fascinating history of Hemel Hempstead, so you can understand exactly what attracts tourists to visit:
Hemel Hempstead was developed after World War II as a new town, however, existed as a smaller settlement since the 8th century. It is even mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, meaning that it has a very rich history. Hemel Hempstead’s church of St Mary was built in 1140 and is still one of the best Norman churches in the UK. Its 12th-century spire is one of the tallest in Europe, which attracts tourists who are particularly interested in religious tourism.
In the Tudor times, the town was granted by King Henry VIII to become a market town. According to historians, it is believed that King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn stayed in the town for a while during this time. In the 1970s, Tudor wall paintings were even discovered in some cottages near Hemel Hempstead. These paintings have become a popular tourist attraction as many people are interested in seeing the finely preserved paintings.
From the 1950s through to the end of the 1980s, Hemel Hempstead’s population grew to around 80,000, with new developments being constructed from the original town on all sides. The original part of Hemel is still known as the Old Town and is still in historic condition. Today, the population of Hemel Hempstead is estimated to be around 103,000.
Hemel is also well known famous for its Magic Roundabout. This is a roundabout at the end of the town centre, where the traffic from six other roads meets. The traffic is able to circulate around the main roundabout whilst going through the other six mini-roundabouts. This was the first roundabout system in Britain and is one of a few many odd things to do in Hemel Hempstead.
The best places to stay in Hemel Hempstead
There are plenty of great places to stay in Hemel Hempstead, whatever your budget. Here are my top picks-
Holiday Inn Express – This modern hotel is excellent value for money. It has air-conditioned bedrooms, a licensed bar and even an on-site restaurant serving delicious food. There is onsite parking, which is great if you’re taking advantage of Hemel Hempstead’s motorway access, as well as free Wi-Fi for all customers. Every bedroom also has a 32-inch flat screen TV and an en suite with free amenities. A breakfast buffet is served daily, featuring tasty continental options to suit everyone’s tastes. The hotel is within easy reach of junction 20 of the M25, making it great for easy access to all the things to do in Hemel Hempstead.
The Olde Kings Arms – This historic 16th-century coaching Inn offers comfortable accommodation to help you feel at home during your stay. There is even a restaurant and bar with a beer garden as well as free WiFi. Its location in Hemel Hempstead is opposite the Old Town Hall, Theatre and St Mary’s Church – making it a great central location for all of the things to do in Hemel Hempstead. Every room is equipped with a desk, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom, so is ideal for business travellers. All rooms have tea and coffee making facilities and fresh milk can even be requested at the bar – how amazing is that?!
Holiday Inn M1 – Holiday Inn M1 is in an excellent location just off the M1 (Junction 8) and is easily accessed from the M25, so it’s perfect for relaxing after a long day of travelling. Each room has a flat-screen HD TV and even a pillow menu for you to have optimal comfort! You will also be able to enjoy their fully equipped leisure club which has a swimming pool and fitness centre. The restaurant serves everyone’s dietary requirements and has fantastic food options to suit even the pickiest of eaters – and kids under 13 eat for free! If you’re a lover of coffee, you’ll be glad to know that there’s also Starbucks Coffee served in the lounge to help give you energy for all the things to do in Hemel Hempstead.
Boxmoor Lodge Hotel – This hotel dates all the way back to the 17th-century and is only located a 5 minutes walk from the train station, so is a great option if you arrive by train. The hotel is family-run and has complimentary parking, free Wi-Fi and an award-winning conservatory restaurant that allows you to dine in style. All the bedrooms have an en suite complete with a shower, a bath, free toiletries and also a hairdryer. There is also free drink making facilities for you to make use of.
Aubrey Park Hotel – Stunningly located in the beautiful woodlands only a short drive from Hemel Hempstead, there is free parking and Wi-Fi available on the property. All rooms have a flat-screen TV which has Netflix and Amazon Prime, additionally, every room has an en suite bathroom, complete with luxury toiletries. There is also an on-site brasserie restaurant that features recipes made with locally sourced produce. A traditional English breakfast is also on offer, as well as a variety of continental options, helping you start the day right before you explore all the things to do in Hemel Hempstead.
Keyfield Terrace Serviced Apartments – Set just a few minutes’ drive outside of Hemel Hempstead, these gorgeous serviced apartments are a home away from home. They feature a terrace and free Wi-Fi, as well as a fully equipped kitchen with a microwave, dining area, fridge, and an oven and stovetop. A continental breakfast is served each morning for guests at the aparthotel, so that’s one less thing for you to worry about.
Shendish Manor Hotel – Surrounded by 160 acres of gardens, this hotel features a serene golf course, relaxing restaurant and splendid views of the English countryside. There is a varied European menu for evening dining at the attractive hotel, serving only the finest ingredients. If you love golf, you will certainly enjoy the 18-hole golf course is surrounded by charming woodland, along with a snack bar if you get peckish. You can also relax and read a book in the grand library lounge with an open fireplace, which is lovely in the winter months. The Shendish Manor Hotel is located just outside of Hemel Hempstead, giving you the peaceful getaway you deserve.
Hunton Park Hotel – Situated near the M25, Hunton Park combines the historic beauty with modern features, so you get the best of the best. The hotel has 62 en suite guest bedrooms with TVs that all have Sky. There is even a Swimming Pool for all guests to relax in. Whether you are staying at the hotel for business or for leisure, the good facilities are a great way to wind down after a hard day’s work or a long day spent exploring.
Denham Grove – This delightful hotel offers stylish and modern accommodation within 48 acres of nature. There are impressive modern leisure facilities and is in a convenient location close to the M40 and M25 motorways. There are 100 en suite rooms which all feature a TV and drink making facilities. There are also amazing leisure facilities such as an indoor swimming pool, mini-gym, spa bath and sauna and even a tennis court to help you let off steam after all the busy things to do in Hemel Hempstead!
The best things to do in Hemel Hempstead
There are dozens of things to do in Hemel Hempstead, here are some of the best:
Things to do in Hemel Hempstead with kids
What things to do in Hemel Hempstead are there for kids? So many! Here are some of my favourite things to do in Hemel Hempstead with kids:
The Snow Centre – It’s fun for the whole family at The Snow Centre! Here, you’ll find a huge 160m Main Slope as well as the UK’s largest indoor lesson slope. Both slopes are over 30m wide and covered in snow – ideal for all your indoor skiing and snowboarding needs and a guaranteed family fun day out for all! Everyone of all abilities is welcome and will be supported by the incredible instructors, no matter what!
Drift Limits – Here you can take their breathtaking fleet of supercars to the limit through various experiences they have on offer. You can drive their cars, have a drift ride or even participate in a stunt driving experience, guaranteed to leave a smile on your face and adrenaline coursing through your veins!
XC – There is so much to do at XC! They boast a thrilling skate park, a 14m climbing wall, an indoor caving system, bouldering and high ropes to test your limits and push yourself and your family out of their comfort zone. There is also a teen-focused health centre that has counselling rooms Music recording studio, and an internet cafe to help the local community. Due to this, all of the funds generated goes right back into the charity to help improve the centre – making it an excellent place to visit!
Things to do in Hemel Hempstead for couples
Hemel Hempstead is perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway, these are what I’d recommend:
The Marlowes Shopping Centre – The Marlowes Shopping Centre is the main shopping area in Hemel Hempstead, making it the perfect place to spend a few hours finding things to treat your significant other to. There are some large chain stores as well as some small units for independent businesses so it’s great for finding what you want and something unique at the same time. If you’ve driven to Hemel Hempstead, you’ll also be glad to know that the shopping centre offers secure parking at a great price!
Pennine Way Stadium – This gigantic stadium is perfect to watch a match at if you and your significant other are football lovers. The bar is a great meeting place for avid rugby and football fans alike, as well as various social groups such as darts. The fully licensed bar is open 7 days a week and serves a wide range of drinks such as lager, cider and cask ale. The stadium has 400 seats and plenty of room to stand around the pitch if you prefer – it’s a great date idea for couples looking for things to do in Hemel Hempstead!
Waterways Experience – Cruise down the canals in the wonderful longboats whilst taking in the great British nature. They operate on a voluntary basis, as they want to share their passion for the waterways and canal boating. Booking one of these boat rides is a great way to support a worthwhile cause as they are also advocates for ensuring disadvantaged people get the same opportunities to enjoy the boat rides.
Free things to do in Hemel Hempstead
There are plenty of free things to do in Hemel Hempstead, here are some of the best:
Gadebridge Park – These scenic gardens are located near the Old Town and next to St Mary’s Church, so you’re surrounded by beauty! The walled gardens are also known as the Charter Gardens as they are named after the arched stone porchway you can walk through and explore. There is even a coat of arms on the upper level of the Charter tower for you to observe if you’re interested in the English history of this pretty park – don’t forget to bring this gorgeous picnic blanket to lounge on and enjoy the weather!
Jellicoe Water Gardens – Wander along the pathway and get lost amongst the flowers for a few hours. There are lots of seating areas to sit on and read a book as you unwind from the busy outside world in stunning nature. It’s also great for kids as there’s a wooden children’s play area and plenty of plants and flowers for everyone to identify or admire.
Amaravati Buddhist Monastery – Amaravati Retreat Centre has been holding retreats since the monastery was first established in 1984. The retreats are led by monks and nuns originating in the northeast of Thailand and are specially trained. All of the retreats and teachings are given for free in keeping with the Thai Monastic tradition, but donations are always welcome and highly encouraged. It’s the perfect place for you to visit if you want a better understanding of Buddhist traditions.
Hemel Hempstead essentials- what to pack
When taking advantage of all the great things to do in Hemel Hempstead, you don’t want to forget these essential items:
- Joules Women’s Shoreside Raincoat – Look stylish whilst still keeping dry with this light, easy to wear raincoat that looks good with any outfit. You’ll definitely regret it if you don’t pack it and get caught out in the infamous British rain!
- Hemel Hempstead Through Time – Learn all about Hemel Hempstead through the years with this interesting book, guaranteed to help you expand your knowledge about Hemel Hempstead to help you appreciate your visit more.
- Travel Card Holder – This is the perfect way to hold all your bus cards, train tickets and oyster cards safe and in one place – making it so much easier to board in a hurry!
- Mountain Warehouse Adventurer Women’s Walking Boots – These sturdy boots are ideal for walking around the vast countryside Hemel Hempstead has to offer. You need them if you’re serious about the outdoors!
I hope you’ve learnt about some of the great things to do in Hemel Hempstead! What things to do in Hemel Hempstead interest you the most? If you’d like to read more, I’d recommend: