On the Radar: Bermondsey, London

Young creative are setting up shop in this once-notorious district, transforming it into a mecca of cool cafes, restaurants and galleries.

These days, it’s a centre of design studios and art galleries, where loft-dwelling hipsters rub shoulders with the tenants of local authority blocks.

Its architecture is diverse, too, with historic cobbled streets and redeveloped warehouses in the shadow of The Shard, London’s newest sky-scraping landmark.

Most of the action is around Bermondsey Street — crowned South London’s coolest strip by British Vogue, and lined with hip bars, quirky boutiques and eclectic eateries. Then, there’s the vibrant Bermondsey Square, home to indie cinema, Shortwave, and a weekly antiques market.

The greater area is nicknamed London’s larder, thanks to the next-door Borough district, which is home to one of the UK’s most famous foodie destinations, Borough Market. Despite its proximity to touristy Tower Bridge, Bermondsey has a welcoming village feel. Enjoy some window shopping and a pint at gastropub, The Woolpack, and you’ll begin to feel like a local.

Stay

Right in the heart of the neighbourhood, the chic Bermondsey Square Hotel has 60 intelligently designed rooms. Beds are angled to create a work zone behind the headboard, while wall-mounted iMacs keep you entertained and in touch. The decor is clean and modern with a pop twist, and rooms at the front of the building overlook Bermondsey Square — ideal for watching London life go by. The hotel is also home to UK Masterchef presenter Gregg Wallace’s restaurant, Gregg’s Bar & Grill, renowned for its hearty British cuisine.

Shop

Canine couture: Style is important here and the best-dressed dogs sport beautiful, bespoke collars from Holly & Lil. Cute and kitsch, this place stocks everything the pooch-about-town needs, including hand-knitted alpaca jumpers from Peru.

English rosé: 
Fine wine isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when you think of the UK, but Wine Pantry is about to change that. It offers more than 20 English drops for tasting, including sparkling wines that have beaten prestigious champagnes at international competitions.



Metrosexual mecca:
 Bermondsey 167 is a treasure trove of clothing and accessories. The store’s director Michael McGrath, former head of Burberry menswear, designs his own label M2CG, featuring sharp crewnecks and work shirts, and jewellery made of recycled antique-market finds.

Eat

Breakfast: Join the early birds at Street Coffee for a perfectly brewed organic cup of Joe, homemade muffin and free wi-fi. If you’re after something substantial, book a table at Roast, set in the stunning old Floral Hall of Borough Market. Its Full Borough breakfast, which includes black pudding, bubble and squeak, and field mushrooms, should set you up for the day.


Lunch: Borough has been home to its famous food market since the 13th century; today it has more than 100 stalls. Nibble and slurp your way around until you have procured all the ingredients for the perfect picnic in the grounds of nearby Southwark Cathedral. The pear and walnut chutney from Rubies in the Rubble will go well with some traditionally made Gorwydd Caerphilly cheese. Serve it up on a slice of award-winning London Bloomer from The Flour Station, an artisan bakery which began life in Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant. To curb sweet cravings, you can’t go past The Robot Estate’s dangerously good chocolates, made using cocoa grown at the company’s Caribbean plantation.

Dinner:
 Before oysters became a favourite of the champagne-quaffing upper class, they were eaten with porter — a dark-style beer. At the cosy Wright Brothers Oyster & Porter House the tradition is still alive. For reasonably priced, modern Italian food, reserve a table at Zucca. The menu changes daily and features simple unpretentious food with high-quality ingredients.



Play

See: The viewing platform at The Shard is almost twice the height of any other in the city. High-speed lifts whisk you up to breathtaking vistas that can extend for 65 kilometres on a clear day.

Taste: An impressive array of drinking options is on offer along Bermondsey Street — from an organic cider at The Garrison to an imaginative cocktail, such as Strawberry Blonde (vodka, rhubarb, berry compote, balsamic and lime) at The Hide bar.

Enjoy: Culture vultures should head to the Fashion and Textile Museum, founded by British designer Zandra Rhodes. With a regularly changing program, it’s sure to inspire fashionistas.

Words by Zara Cronin - Published in Voyeur March 2013
Quick Facts 
Population Approx. 8 million
Area 1,572 km²
Time Zone GMT 0
Languages English (official)
Currency Pound (£GBP)
Electricity 230V with 50Hz frequency. 240V may also be found although 230V is the official voltage
Share this article 
facebook Twitter Pinterest Google
Related Articles 
Over Ground
Forget the London Tube - step into the light and see a new side to England’s capital by taking the overground Ginger Line.
Local's Guide London
The city of London is a haven for art, culture and history lovers. Here, Naomi Speakman of the British Museum reveals her top spots for soaking it all in.
Painting the town: Bristol
The slogan is sprayed across the brick façade of an old shop on Stokes Croft in Bristol’s centre, a message for all who pass underneath to see.