There are hundreds of reasons to visit Peckham, with more restaurants, shops and bars opening all the time. Here Isobel Diamond seeks out the coolest things to do and places to visit in Peckham
Our very own Peckham is now the happening neighbourhood that has fashionable Londoners flocking south of the river. The Only Fools and Horses image, tarnished by high-rise flats and wheeler-dealers, has vanished (and well, even Beckham injected a little glamour to the much-loved sitcom with his special appearance for Sports Relief in March).
Instead, think Hoxton 1990: an arty bohemian crowd, drawn by cheaper rents and a laid-back vibe, fill the new influx of uber-cool galleries, restaurants, bars and clubs, where creativity and individuality reign supreme.
The lovely Bellenden Road is at the centre of Peckham’s revival. Antony Gormley sculptures line the pavement and there’s a cute cluster of independent retailers, like novelist Evie Wyld’s Review bookshop, and boutiques selling vintage furniture and clothing by up-and-coming designers. And the inimitable Rye Lane remains the heart of the multi-cultural community with a bustling market selling bargains galore.
Property wise, Peckham has a generous supply of period housing, and Professor Green and wife, Made in Chelsea star Millie Macintosh, moved to nearby Telegraph Hill in 2013. So with the celebrities arriving, Peckham is securing its place as the ‘crème de la menthe’ of hip London districts.
Restaurants, bars and pubs
Hidden behind Rye Lane, this local boozer on pretty Choumert Street is one of Peckham’s best. The clientele is a happy mix of hipsters and locals and the pub goes the extra mile to entertain them, with a backroom cinema and regular live bands. The beer selection and hearty pub grub menu, focused on local ingredients, adds to the winning formula.
43 Choumert Road SE15 4AR; 020 7635 9483; themontpelier.net
The Begging Bowl
This cool little diner serves sharing dishes of Thai street food, yet this is no ordinary Thai. The contemporary menu delivers fresh takes on traditional recipes, like Sticky Pork Belly with Crispy Shallots and Venison Haunch with Grilled Chilli Jam. The atmosphere is lively, with diners packed snuggly around wooden tables and the outside conservatory is perfect for summer dining. There’s a no booking policy except for large parties, so turn up and try your luck.
168 Bellenden Road SE15 4BW; 020 7635 2627; thebeggingbowl.co.uk
Frank’s Café & Campari Bar
The legendary Frank’s opened in 2007 and is now a summer institution. A venue above a multi-storey car park may sound unappealing, but the rooftop space with views stretching across the London skyline is extraordinary. An exhibition and events programme keeps things exciting, with site-specific performances by Peckham collective Bold Tendencies and artworks peppered around the space. The drinks menu has plenty of – you’ve guessed it – Campari and there is delicious cocktails and food served too. Frank’s is open Wednesday to Sunday throughout the summer.
10th Floor, Peckham Multi-Storey Car Park, 95a Rye Lane SE15 4ST; frankscafe.org.uk
Inspired by Del Boy’s back garden water business, this gallery-come-bar in the railway arches beneath Peckham Rye station, mixes art with great value cocktails. An unusual, evening only exhibition concept, with regular shows by emerging artists, it began as a summer pop-up that became so popular it’s now open year-round. Try the Peckham Spring Water, a pungent concoction of Bombay Sapphire gin, elderflower, mint and tonic. In the yard you’ll find everything from BBQ to Caribbean fare.
Open Friday and Saturday’s 6pm-12midnight. 22a Blenheim GroveSE15 4QN;
South London Gallery
A jewel in the area’s crown, the gallery has an international reputation for its free exhibitions, alongside talks, workshops, live performance and film that showcase the work of international contemporary artists. The current exhibition, Welcome to Iraq, which highlights the breadth of artistic practice in the troubled country, runs until 1 June and has been getting rave reviews. The adjoining No67 cafe has a beautiful dining room serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Try dishes like crab and fennel on toast, snail bacon and crouton salad.
65-67 Peckham Road SE5 8UH; 020 7703 6120; southlondongallery.org
The CLF Arts Café AKA The Bussey Building
Peckham’s arts, theatre, music and clubbing scene is epitomised by the CLF Art Cafe within The Bussey Building, conceived by Creative Arts Entrepreneur, Mickey Smith. A sprawling 120 year-old warehouse space, with a heady programme of music, theatre, dance, cabaret, comedy, film and club nights all held under one roof. It prides itself on being a friendly venue, catering for a plethora of cultural tastes, from collaborations with The Royal Court Theatre, to low-key events like The South London Soul Train and rooftop cinema in the summer.
133 Rye Lane SE15 4ST; 020 7732 5275; clfartcafe.org
People making creative waves in Peckham
The Dye House
A showroom and filming location run by Peckham ‘it’ couple Nicky Chambers and Guy Forrester, The Dye House began life as a redundant collection of industrial buildings, which the pair transformed into a hub for fostering creative talent. It now has studios where artists, photographers, designers and filmmakers work and meet, with spaces for private exhibitions and workshops. Nicky and Guy have lived in the area for 18 years, with three children and four cats between them. Partners in life and business, they have been fundamental to the growth of the local creative industry and are focused on ensuring it has a successful future.
Nutbrook Studios, 33 Nutbrook Street SE15 4JU; the-dyehouse.com
Hannah Barry is not just an exciting name on the south London art scene; she’s one of Britain’s most dynamic young curators. From a new generation of young entrepreneurial gallerists, Hannah studied History of Art at Cambridge before opening a squat-come-gallery space in Peckham with her partner Sven Mundner. Since the HannahBarryGallery opened in 2007 her enterprise has become international, taking artists to the Venice Biennale and exhibiting throughout Europe. She represents a collective of young contemporary artists and has opened a partner space in Fitzrovia.
The Hannah Barry Gallery, 4 Holly Grove SE15 5DF; hannahbarry.com
Victor’s Lab – Contemporary Fitness Studio
Partners, Daniel Roy and Radana Lancman created the concept for Victor’s while hunting out a home for their sportswear brand, Victor on the Petal Lane. They realised they could create a fitness and design studio rolled into one. Daniel quit a city job to follow his passion for health and fitness and Victor’s Lab was born – a unique and exciting concept offering yoga, Pilates, Dance Off workshops and capoeira in a beautiful purpose built-studio. In summer the classes will take place on the rooftop. Victor stands for victory, and overcoming all hurdles. And with their Peckham enterprise, that’s exactly what this power couple intends to do.
133 Rye Lane SE15 4ST; 0845 604 2045; victorslab.co.uk