Where is Fleabag filmed and can I visit the guinea pig cafe?

Annabel Fenwick-Elliott
A very British comedy with North London at its heart - bbc

We're halfway into the long-awaited second series of Fleabag, with fans deeply invested in Phoebe Waller-Bridge's central character as she meanders around London, flirting, stealing, cackling and crying.

So where was it all filmed? Locals residing in the northern pockets of the capital might recognise the backdrops - but for the benefit of everyone else the majority of the show is set and filmed in Dartmouth Park, within the NW5 postcode of Camden.

The leafy district, on the hill that leads to Highgate from Kentish Town (where Waller-Bridge herself lives, having grown up in Ealing) was chosen for both seasons over runners-up Richmond and Barnet.

"In the first creative meeting with Phoebe and the director, we all felt that Fleabag’s 'family' should all live in a community, near each other," location manager Ian Hutchinson told Kentish Towner.

The interior of Fleabag's pokey flat was shot in the studio, as was her rich sister Claire's (Sian Clifford) rather more substantial residence, but the exterior can be found on Laurier Road, where the average house price is a tidy £2.8m, according to Zoopla.

The show is filmed in Dartmouth Park, within the NW5 postcode of Camden Credit: bbc

Many of the scenes in which Fleabag (no other name is given for her) pounds the streets at night were shot nearby on Southampton Road, in Gospel Oak.

Let's examine some of the other locations in more detail, as we impatiently await the next episode.

Warning: mild spoilers. 

Fleabag's cafe

During season one, the small, guinea pig-themed cafe Fleabag bought with her now-deceased best friend Boo - where a cheese sandwich costs £12.55 - was struggling to attract much business, with our protagonist running it on her own. Halfway through the second season, though, things have taken a turn for the better and the cafe is thriving.

The real eaterie used to film season one went through a metamorphosis of its own during the show's hiatus between 2016-2019. The Village Café, on York Rise, was formally a modest greasy spoon with a grand total of two Yelp reviews (one, in a case of life imitating art, in which a customer complains of being charged £9 for a dismal breakfast).

By the time the BBC returned in 2018 to film season two, however, it was in the process of being remodelled and turned into a Turkish diner, now called Bold Café & Restaurant.

Graciously, Bold's manager Ibrahim Aksu let the production team temporarily turn it back into its former incarnation for the purposes of shooting last summer.

"It was weird going backwards," Aksu told Time Out, adding: "I’m thinking about getting a guinea pig photo on the wall."

In real life, incidentally, Waller-Bridge has said that her favourite coffee house is the Lost Society Cafe in Soho.

The site of that dinner

Season two opened with a brilliantly written sequence in the form of a dinner party that reunited all the main characters. There were tense glares, fraught revelations and by the end, even blood.

It was filmed at Smith & Wollensky, a high-end steakhouse in Covent Garden headed up by Tom Cook, formerly of Skylon. And you could say its premises are no stranger to blood. 

This is a restaurant famed for its "humongous whole cow menu", which uses as many cuts of the animal as possible, including the often neglected parts. For large parties, that will be £226 a person; £325 with wine.

Smith & Wollensky: where the punch-up unfolded Credit: giles christopher

The silent retreat

In episode four of season one, Fleabag and Claire pack their bags with absolutely zero enthusiasm and head to a female-only silent retreat in the countryside, courtesy of their emotionally-challenged but well-meaning father.

While the retreat itself is predictably tedious, the setting is anything but. Hedsor House, an Italianate-style manor overlooking the River Thames in Buckinghamshire, has enjoyed several identities over the years – from family home and convent school, to American army spy base and corporate headquarters.

Today, it's an elegant events and weddings venue and film shooting location.

Hedsor House, scene of the silent retreat Credit: getty

Hedsor is where music producer Mark Ronson threw his 33rd birthday party; while Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Nicole Kidman and Tom Hardy have all filmed here, as has Dustin Hoffman, who hired the house for six months to make his directorial debut, Quartet. It’s also been featured in Downtown Abbey and Midsomer Murders.

The estate is not open to the public, but you can lease it privately, along with its 11 guest bedrooms, for between £5,950 and £14,450 a night, depending on season.

The Sexhibition

Season one wrapped with Fleabag’s conniving stepmother, expertly played by Olivia Colman, hosting a gloriously self-indulgent art 'Sexhibition', during which she goads Fleabag to the point where glasses are smashed.

This episode was shot on the top floor of the Tate Modern. Director Harry Bradbeer told Variety: “It had natural brightness which cut against the darkness of the story. So the location was a great metaphor for ‘Fleabag’ as a whole.”

Awkward happenings at the Tate Modern Credit: amazon

The Tate has appeared in countless British films and TV shows in its time - the BBC's The Bodyguard being one.

The church

Season two welcomed a new love interest for Fleabag, and an inconvenient one at that: her father's priest (Andrew Scott) - a sweary, sexy, Irish clergyman with a phobia of foxes and a fondness for tinned G+Ts from Marks & Spencer.

Naturally, Fleabag is obsessed - enough to throw her atheism to the wind and start attending church. The real venue is The Parish Church of St Andrew's, Kingsbury, in northwest London.

Dark intentions: the Parish Church of St Andrew's Credit: bbc

It's a Victorian-era church, originally built near what is now Oxford Street and consecrated in 1847. When the area was engulfed by warehouses in the early 20th century, the church was demolished brick by brick and moved ten miles to its new home in Kingsbury - a project dubbed by one contemporary newspaper - somewhat loftily - as "the biggest jigsaw in the world".

Today, it hosts weekly church services, as well as weddings and funerals, and as of last year, the Fleabag film crew.