South East London stretches from SE1 down to SE20, encompassing the London boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lewisham and Southwark. Such a huge slice of the capital naturally has lots of different guises and offerings – from out-of-this-world dining scenes to riverside living and everything in between.
Areas like Lambeth and Elephant & Castle have seen much in the way of regeneration. Ultra-modern residential developments are now peppered along the Thames here, packed with apartments and penthouses that come with a bird’s-eye view of the city. Both districts are now firmly seated in the ‘up-and-coming’ category, with new bars and restaurants opening up practically weekly. For celebrated old-time icons, meanwhile, Lambeth plays host to famous attractions like the National Theatre, the Tate Modern, and the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, so this is a real cultural big-hitter.
South East London’s gastronomy
SE1’s Borough is one of London’s most reputable foodie hotspots. You’ll find its lifeblood, Borough Market, next to London Bridge on Southwark Street. London’s biggest and best food market, it’s said to have been in operation since the 11th century, and its cornucopia of stalls feature everything from delicate French pastries to net-fresh seafood. Open Monday to Saturday, it attracts locals, tourists and top chefs looking for the finest produce.
Nearby Bermondsey also draws some big crowds for its gastronomic scene. Once a largely abandoned area full of run-down warehouses, today it’s a bohemian wonderland, with rainbow-coloured house fronts, quality bars and pubs and the street food extravaganza that is Maltby Street Market. Lots of the old warehouses have been converted into new-build apartments.
Historical riverside neighbourhoods
Move east to the likes of Rotherhithe and Surrey Quays and you’ll find 17th-century pubs that tell tales of days gone by, hidden down Victorian streets among swish riverfront apartment buildings. This slither of South East London offers a number of peaceful nature areas and a watersports centre, perfect for taking a breather away from the fast-paced city day-to-day. Canary Wharf and City workers, in particular, are drawn to the area, and can commute by riverbus for a more scenic route to work.
In nearby Greenwich the historical sites come thick and fast. Greenwich has a fascinating maritime history, and this leafy Thames-front stretch can feel a million miles from the city. It’s a World Heritage Site, home to the Royal Observatory, the National Maritime Museum and the world’s most famous ship – The Cutty Sark. Property in these parts includes range from pricey waterfront apartments to smart Victorian terraces.
Edgy South East London
Neighbouring Lewisham offers an edgier lifestyle with a strong community spirit. It’s got a handful of decent markets, bars and brunch spots to rival Shoreditch and an electric after-dark offering. The Deptford neighbourhood (part of which spills into the London Borough of Greenwich) has a burgeoning art scene. As such, property developers are moving in to transform the area’s residential face with cutting-edge new apartments that appeal to the area’s multiplying creatives. Deptford High Street is packed with quirky independent stores and eateries serving Vietnamese fare. There’s also a beautiful Baroque church to explore.