Discover Bankside: a new cultural hub in the heart of London
Insider Guide by Becky Okell, creative director of Paynter Jacket Co. Exclusively curated for guests of The London Residents Club
The historic district of Bankside is fast becoming one of the capital’s best ‘hidden in plain sight’ cultural hubs. From exciting new restaurants to pop-up shops and startup culture, Bankside really is a place to watch.
This guide is a selection of Becky’s favourite spots in South London’s Bankside Follow @becky.okell on Instagram for more inspiration.
Walk: Thames path
Walk along the River Thames, taking in views of the skyline and the iconic bridges connecting the the two sides of the city. You can walk between Tower Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge in about 30 minutes, and will take you past landmarks such as City Hall, Shakespeare’s Globe, and Tate Modern art gallery.
Art: Tate Modern
Britain’s national gallery of international modern and contemporary art is housed in the former Bankside Power Station and is home to an awe-inspiring collection covering everything from impressionism to pop art. The museum is one of the largest of its kind in the world, and, as is the case at all of London’s national museums, the permanent collection is completely free to visit.
Insider tip: Every Friday and Saturday the museum runs extended opening hours till 10pm, and on the last Friday of every month Uniqlo Tate Lates take place - a unique ‘happening’ featuring a mix of art, workshops, talks, music, film and street food around a single theme.
Food + Drink: Caravan Bankside
Caravan restaurants are a Ginza Insider favourite. Their amazing food, delicious coffee, and beautiful spaces make them the perfect all-day drinking and dining venues.
Housed on the ground floor of an old metal box factory, Caravan Bankside is a unique, industrial, and warm space. The menu is signature Caravan, with an eclectic and tasty selection of ‘well-travelled’ dishes, lots of small plates to feast on and share, as well as sourdough pizzas and larger plates. The coffee bar serves up brew from Caravan’s London based roastery, serving specialty takeout coffees and their signature single origin coffee negroni and espresso martinis – two must try Caravan classics!
Becky says: “I can’t really pick a favourite [Caravan location], as it’s like choosing between children (I’d imagine..!), but if I really had to, Bankside would be my favourite from a design point of view. It’s really stunning architecturally.”
Explore: The Low Line
The Low Line, is an urban redevelopment project along the base of the railway tracks of Bankside. When completed it will link together the neighbourhoods of London Bridge, Waterloo, Blackfriars and Elephant and Castle. Though the project is still in its early stages, there is already lots to explore and enjoy. Discover the independent shops, artist studios and gorgeous restaurants along a pedestrianised walkway through the old Victorian viaducts along Union Street and the surrounding area.
Don’t miss: Rachel Wilberforce’s ‘Cyclorama’ installation above the Union Theatre in the Old Union Yard Arches is tough yet vibrant - like Bankside itself. The stainless steel sculpture has a mirrored surface on one side and is spray-painted red on the other. It is constantly changing in appearance - reflecting sunlight, Bankside’s iconic brickwork and the city’s skyline.
Discover: Flat Iron Square
Opened in October 2016, Flat Iron Square is a new food and culture hub located in the space between seven railway arches and the historical building Devonshire House. With bars, restaurants, street food vendors, a flea market, a live music stage, and an outdoor space known as ‘The Garden’ - this is truly a buzzing place to spend an afternoon or evening.
Becky says: “Carpark, weekend flea market, and now home to restaurants, bars, and clubs… Not to mention the permanent kitchen of one of my favourite lunch spots (when Caravan is full!) Savage Salads – a naughty salad box full of chicken, halloumi and delicious grains.”
Eat: Borough Market
Borough Market is a London institution and an unmissable attraction if you find yourself in the London Bridge area. Explore its market stalls selling dishes from all around the world and the best English produce. Take home an exquisite chutney or exotic brew.