I’m a Londoner. London born and bred. And it’s not often I get to be a tourist in my home city. But in this collaboration with Hotels.com, I got that chance to play tourist and discover the London Bridge’s hidden gems.
The area around London Bridge used to be dull, boring. Mainly offices with the surrounding businesses and restaurants catering for the work crowd. London Bridge was where you came when you wanted to head South, and you never really ventured beyond the station. But all of that has started to change.
London Bridge’s hidden gems you never knew existed
1. Flat Iron Square
Flat Iron Square is the new street-foodie hangout, just down from Borough Market, and a lot less packed. Behind an unassuming doorway is the brightly-lit foodhall. Here you can graze on piping hot tacos; soft squishy bao-buns – the lastest foodie craze in London, freshly made pasta and pizza, posh fried chicken and of course gourmet burgers.
This was the perfect place for us to pick-me-up snack. And with a family that can never settle on one thing to eat, we could pick and choose, then convene to our table with our choices. No arguments about food, what can possibly be better!
Feeling satiated and energized it was onwards, to discover more of London Bridge’s hidden gems.
Address: Flat Iron Square, London SE1 1TD
2. Menier Chocolate Factory
Housed in this 19th century five-story house is the Menier Chocolate Factory, a 180 seater, off-West End theatre. This little gem of a theatre regularly shows award-winning plays. As well as the theatre, there is a contemporary art gallery, restaurant, and cafe. If you are looking for something other than a jukebox musical, you might want to check out the Menier Chocolate Factory Theatre.
Address: Menier Chocolate Factory, 53 Southwark St, London SE1 1RU
3. Borough Market
The addition of Borough Market has made London Bridge a mecca for foodies and tourists. Stallholders jostle cheek by jowl to sell top-notch artisan cheeses, bread, olives, chocolate, organic meats and caught that morning fish. You can feast on paella, oysters, squid, venison sausages cooked right before your eyes.
OK. This isn’t really a hidden gem, but Borough Market that started the London Bridge’s renaissance. In the nineties, pioneering traders began to sell their wares from the abandoned buildings. Following suit came Neals Yard Dairy, Brindisa, and Turnips – the glorious fruit and vegetable wholesaler. It’s a cliche, but, as they say, the rest is history.
Borough Market is heaving and you are spoilt for choice when it comes to foodie offerings. Whether you just want some a freshly made organic milkshake, a decent bottle of wine, an obscure German beer or authentic street Thai food. It’s all here.
Address: Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TL
4. Fashion and Textile Musem
This is definitely one of London Bridges’s hidden gems. The museum was started by 1980s fashion designer Zandra Rhodes and is the UK’s only museum dedicated to fashion and textile design. The building itself is fascinating, a disused warehouse, redesigned in collaboration with the Mexican architect, Ricardo Legoretta and Zandra Rhodes. As well as exhibitions the museum runs a range of affordable workshops and courses.
Address: 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF
5. Be a flaneur to really discover London Bridge’s hidden gems
The best way to explore the area around London Bridge is to be a flaneur. To stroll, with no real purpose, but take in the sights, and meander along the narrow backstreets. Enjoy the act of walking.
The south bank of the Thames, heading towards Tower Bridge, is far less busy than the stretch by the London Eye, but just as spectacular. The London skyline is ever-changing, and I am constantly in awe of the glass and steel constructs that dominates the city skyline.
6. 20 Fenchurch Street
The Walkie-Talkie Building over at 20 Fenchurch Street, the north side of the Thames. Its distinctive shape is the reason why it’s called the Walkie Talkie building. The top of the tower boasts a three-story sky garden and gives a full 360-degree vista of London. As well as the sky garden there are four restaurants and bars to help you savour your view.
Address: 20 Fenchurch Street, EC3M 8AQ
7. HMS Belfast
As you stroll alongside the river you can’t miss HMS Belfast. Commissioned in 1939, just before the outbreak of the Second World War, the ship was part of the British naval blockade against Germany. This ship saw action in the arctic and took part in the Normandy landings. And now it’s here, docked in London. You can clamber on board and explore all nine decks from the guns on deck to the engine rooms deep in the bowels of the ship.
Address: HMS Belfast, Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2JH
7. The Engine Rooms
The Tower of London has to be London’s most spectacular bridge. It is such a thrill to walk across. Tower Bridge is an engineering miracle, and located on the bridge is a true hidden gem, the Engine Rooms that pay homage to the people and machinery that operate the bridge.
Address: Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 2UP
8. Vinegar Yard
The London Bridge area was never the place to hang out in at night. Sure there were a few pubs and bars, but these really catered for the after-work crowd, who want a quick drink before heading home.
Hidden behind the bright yellow hoardings is a new street food venue Vinegar Yard, with bars restaurants, independent boutiques and a weekend flea market.
Food offerings range from Argentinian inspired steaks, hand-made burgers, sourdough pizzas and burgers with an Indian twist. There’s something for everyone at Vinegar Yard.
Address: 72-82 St Thomas St, Bermondsey, London SE1 3QX
9. Bermondsey Street
Bermondsey Street is now one of London’s coolest streets. This street is packed with quirky boutiques, independent bars and restaurants serving seriously good food. Just remember to book yourself a night out to sample what Bermondsey Street has to offer.
If you are looking for recommendations, then at the top of my list is Jose, a tiny cult Andalucian tapas bar. Its menu changes daily and this small corner restaurant boasts up to fifty wines on its list. Every mouthful of food is exceptional.
This small corner restaurant doesn’t take bookings and is always packed, but they will try and squeeze you in.
Another option is Casse-Croute for authentic French classics. But be warned you’ll need to book. This is the place where you want to settle in for the evening for good food, fine wine and great conversation!
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Disclaimer: This post is a collaboration with Hotels.com, the spending money was gifted by Hotels.com all views are my own.