While almost every tourist attraction and popular area in London is north of the Thames, there’s a whole other half of the city to explore. Yes, I’m talking about South London: home to Borough Market (arguably London’s best market), the London Eye (a must-do!), and one of the city’s two hometown football teams (Go Chelsea!). So there are things worth crossing the river for, but what about accommodation? In this post, I’ll cover where to stay in South London – to show you why that too is a great option.
When it comes to choosing where to stay in London, there are a lot of choices. Most people stay in Central London, but some are willing to strike out to other parts of the city, to see and stay somewhere else. South London is a great option if you’re looking to experience pockets of “local” London life – think residential areas mixed in with some of the tourist hotspots – or want to strike off the beaten path and potentially score a budget-friendlier hotel. Some of the best areas to stay in London are in the south!
One of my favorite London musical artists, Tom Misch, has a song called “South of the River” that perfectly encapsulates my feelings about South London. When I lived there and in my subsequent trips, I’ve never really considered housing or hotels there; now South London has become a place I’d love to explore more, and plan to stay on an upcoming trip.
If you’re planning a trip of your own and curious about staying ‘South of the River,’ here are the best neighborhoods to stay in South London plus a few to skip.
The 8 Best Neighborhoods in South London
As you’ll see in a minute, South London offers tons of excellent neighborhoods you can call home while visiting! Each neighborhood has a unique personality, much like travelers who visit London. So, make sure you pick one that suits you!
Would you believe me if I told you that Bermondsey, one of the top options for where to stay in South London, was once a rundown neighborhood with a tumultuous history?
Thankfully, Bermondsey’s dark days are long gone. Today, the neighborhood is known for its cool warehouse conversions, amazing artisan street food, and inviting gastropubs. Its streets are flooded with hipsters shopping in the trendiest shops, eating in the most exotic restaurants, and living in stylish apartments.
While there aren’t many hotels in Bermondsey, you can still find a few rental options scattered around the neighborhood. Being in Zone 1, Bermondsey has great public transport options, and it is also possible to access many parts of the city on foot. For example, you can walk to London Bridge Station in less than 30 minutes from most parts of Bermondsey.
Buzzing Brixton is located just four miles from central London; just an eleven-minute jaunt on the Victoria line will take you from Victoria to Brixton.
The birthplace of famous Brits like David Bowie and John Major, Brixton is a multicultural melting pot famous for its nightlife, music, and cultural scene. Foodies will love staying in Brixton, as it is one of the neighborhoods in South London that boasts a unique gastronomic scene. In this foodie’s paradise, you’ll find restaurants from every imaginable corner of the world and at every price.
If you choose to stay in Brixton on your next trip to London, the good news is that this neighborhood has a generous portfolio of hotels and rentals for tourists. Brixton also is incredibly well-connected. In fact, the Victoria line begins at Brixton’s underground station.
Greenwich used to be a favorite getaway of British royals, and today, it is one of the most coveted places for where to stay in South London.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many hotels or rentals options in Greenwich. Nevertheless, if you’re one of the lucky travelers who found a nice place in Greenwich, you’ll never run out of things to do.
Right on your doorstep, you’ll find museums, antique markets, river views, boats, and more. As for highlights, I suggest visiting Greenwich Meantime and the Royal Palaces. At night, there’s an abundance of trendy hangouts where you can grab a bite or a drink.
(If you don’t stay in Greenwich, you can definitely take a day trip there instead!)
Lambeth is one of the recommended places to stay in South London, being part of London’s relatively youthful boroughs. You’ll notice the pace of this neighborhood is pretty dynamic, and most of the people who call Lambeth home are young, thriving professionals.
Lambeth has a vibrant mix of vintage markets and a cosmopolitan social scene when it comes to entertainment. Again, foodies will have a lot of choices when it comes to the gastronomic scene. Lambeth is home to an extensive mix of eateries– for the cream of the crop, visit Garden Café at the Garden Museum, Maximo Italian Bistrot, and lively Beany Green – Southbank.
Lambeth is in Zone 1, which means you’ll find an impressive array of transport options to get by the city. You can even be in the heart of Westminster within 20 minutes on foot.
Peckham is your best choice if you’re looking for a place with lots of charisma.
Peckham is one of the coolest, if not the coolest, neighborhoods in London. The heart of Peckham is Rye Lane, a colorful lane full of stalls selling fruit, veggies, salt-fish and raw meat, clothes, handbags, and trainers. But the hype about Peckham isn’t due to Rye Lane only. Local hipsters and art enthusiasts love Peckham for its varied art scene, independent businesses and galleries, fashionable bars and restaurants, stunning architecture, and its strong sense of community spirit.
While Peckham has excellent transport links to central London via the main Peckham Rye Overground station, this neighborhood doesn’t have many accommodation options.
Rotherhithe is a historic riverside district, perfect for travelers who’d like to escape the fuzz of city life. Victorian homes converted to flats, apartment complexes, wildlife reserves, marinas, and green spaces on the banks of the Thames make up most of Rotherhithe’s landscape.
While Rotherhithe is calm, there’s a lot to do at night, especially if you’re a foodie– there are a few dozen restaurants here. If bars are more your speed, you’ll have many pubs to choose from, plus cocktail and wine bars.
Thanks to the Overground trains and the Jubilee Line, you can easily get from Rotherhithe to other parts of London. As for accommodation, be quick to book if you find a place to stay as there are not many rental or hotel options here. (For extra tips on riding the tube AND Overground, check out my guide.)
After a complete transformation, Southwark went from being a crumbling industrial district to one of the most expensive neighborhoods of London.
Southwark is home to some of London’s best attractions, so you’ll be pretty busy if you stay there. The Tate Modern, one of the world’s most excellent museums; the Globe, an Elizabethan playhouse for Shakespeare, wrote his plays; and The shard, a towering building, are all here. Besides these must-do attractions, Southwark is also close to the London Eye, Borough Market, and the London bridge.
There’s plenty of accommodation for travelers in Southwark. Thanks to Southwark’s closeness to landmarks and the National Rail and Overground links, getting around is a breeze. You can also find underground stations in locations along the northern edge of the Borough.
Waterloo is the last neighborhood I recommend for where to stay in south London.
Waterloo’s low profile is what makes it such a nice place to stay when you visit London. Home to some lovely little cafes and restaurants in Kennington Road and plenty of pubs and shops in The Cut and Lower Marsh, Waterloo is a perfect combination of urban and suburban. You can also find two world-class theaters outside the West End: the Old Vic and the National Theatre.
For travelers specifically, Waterloo is an excellent location because it is convenient for buses. If you prefer to walk to Central London, you can get to Waterloo station in about 10 minutes, the London Eye in about 15, and Trafalgar Square in just 25 minutes.
Need help starting your research project? Here’s a list of the best cheap and budget-friendly hotels in Waterloo.
5 Neighborhoods Not to Stay in South London
It might be hard to believe, but yes, there are neighborhoods in South London, or London in general, that you should avoid when looking for accommodation options. That’s not to say that these places are unsafe or not worth visiting – but that (as you’ll see) they just aren’t great when it comes to staying there.
There are two main reasons to put Balham in the not-to-stay section: transport crowds and distance.
Balham is entirely outside of London, and, on top of that, the neighborhood’s station, whose networks include the National Rail and the Underground, becomes a sea of people in commuter rush hours. This busy commuter station can have crowds waiting until 10 am and after 4 pm. As you can see, this is a deadly combination for travelers who are trying to make the most of their days in London.
Kennington is a peaceful enclave in South London, and it’s precisely that peacefulness that makes it unsuitable for tourists. Most of Kennington is full of brick houses and pretty squares containing some perfect examples of Georgian architecture. Besides the architecture, there’s not much to do or see here. There aren’t many hotels or rentals to stay in either.
If you want to include a less touristy site in your itinerary, you can visit Kennington Park here.
Lewisham is a very, very big borough of London. However, Lewisham doesn’t have a significant number of rentals and hotels or things to do. Being far away from Central London, Lewisham is also a pretty inconvenient location for tourists as you’ll spend a lot of time going to and from Lewisham.
Wedged in-between Brixton and Clapham in South-West London, locals consider Stockwell as the northernmost part of Brixton. While Stockwell has good transport links, you won’t find many hotels or rentals. Moreover, Stockwell is mainly residential without many things to do or see around.
Walworth is a pretty new neighborhood in London and is in the middle of gentrification. The tourist scene isn’t well-developed yet despite the influx of new development. Naturally, there aren’t many hotels or rentals for tourists here, and transportation options don’t abound either.
Have any questions about these different neighborhoods in South London and where to stay in this part of London? Let me know in the comments!