AD | Exploring London Bridge
“I’m standing in an absent-minded fog by the German sausage stall in Borough Market, under London Bridge. I can hear the trains rumbling overhead”
Ruth Mancini – Swimming Home
My office is located near London Bridge, and so my association of the area is a busy train station and a lot of people walking quickly to where they need to be. I’ve frequented the coffee shop chains, visited a couple of the pubs and I’ve been to Borough Market before, but I’ve never really explored the area – mainly as I didn’t think there was much to discover. So, when Hotels.com challenged me to explore London Bridge, I was really excited.
I live in Surrey, so the trip into London Bridge isn’t too bad – I actually walked there from Waterloo (at six months pregnant, I’m taking any excuse to avoid the busy tubes!) and it was a beautiful day. If you’re coming from further afield though, and planning an overnight stay, there are some great London Bridge hotels, so you’ll be right in the heart of things.
Everywhere you look in London Bridge, there is somewhere to get food. Whether you want a quick bite to eat on-the-go, or you want a sit-down meal, you are seriously spoilt for choice. Here are a few of my favourite spots in the area…
If you’re a fan of seafood, I cannot recommend BOB’s Lobster more highly. Amazing flavours and a great atmosphere, the service is brilliant and you can see how much thought and passion has gone into the restaurant. I’d really recommend the Lobster Mac’n’Cheese (£16)
St Thomas Street
London SE1 3QX
If you have a special occasion coming up, afternoon tea at The Shard could be the perfect treat. Although I didn’t visit The Shard on this occasion, I’ve previously treated my Mum to afternoon tea at TING Restaurant and Lounge at the Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard. I cannot fault the views, the service or the food – and the selection of teas is incredibly impressive.
Prices from £60 per person.
Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard
31 St Thomas Street
London SE1 9QU
My lovely friend Abbey came to meet me in London Bridge, and we decided to head to London Grind for lunch. It’s a great spot for brunch, lunch and after-work cocktails, and we were really impressed by the food. We decided to share some of the smaller plates, and enjoyed Padron peppers (£4.50), hummus and flatbread (£7), pak choi, aubergine and courgette salad (£8) and a side of baby patatas bravas (£4.50).
2 London Bridge
London SE1 9RA
I can’t talk about food in London Bridge without mentioning Borough Market. Located on Southwark Street and Borough High Street, it is one of the largest and oldest food markets in London, dating back to at least the 12th century.
Nowadays, it mainly sells food to the public. From meat, seafood, fruit and veg, to spices, condiments and vinegars, you can easily spend hours deciding what to buy. The selection of baked goods is impressive too, from incredible doughnuts (like these ones we got from Bread Ahead – £3 each) to homemade fudge, vegan treats and mouth-watering cakes and brownies, you will be spoilt for choice.
London Bridge isn’t really a retail hub, but there are a few good shops if you know where to look.
This is the main retail space in London Bridge. It was most famous for its tea imports until it was damaged during the Second World War. It was redeveloped in the 1980s, modelled on the Galleria on the Piazza del Duomo in Milan. As well as a few of the obvious shops – Boots, Next, Accessorize, there is a brilliant bookshop called The Riverside Bookshop, which I had to visit.
The Riverside Bookshop
Unit 15, 57 Tooley Street
London SE1 2 HD
Culture and museums
There are a surprising amount of museums and galleries in London Bridge – I was really impressed when I was doing my research before my trip as I wasn’t expecting there to be so much to do!
Clink Prison Museum
Built upon the original site of the Clink Prison, which was probably the oldest prison in England, The Clink Prison Museum offers archaeological artefacts, interactive features (I’d love to take Dougie when he’s a bit older) and a lot of information about the history of the prison. It’s not a big museum, so possibly a little expensive for what it is. It brings to life a lot of pretty grim, miserable topics very well, though I thought afterwards that it was a bit like it couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be a historical, informative place to learn about the horrors of the prison, or a light-hearted tourist attraction.
The Clink Prison Museum
1 Clink Street
London SE1 9DG
Fashion and Textile Museum
The Fashion and Textile Museum is a really lovely museum. I went a few years ago to see an exhibition which was brilliant. It doesn’t have a permanent display, but it showcases a temporary exhibition every three months. The museum was closed while they install the next exhibition: Zandra Rhodes: 50 Years of Fabulous, but it reopens on Friday 27 September.
Fashion and Textile Museum
83 Bermondsey Street
London SE1 3XF
Located within the Guy’s Campus of King’s College London. It opened a year ago after a few pop-up events in locations around the city. It’s free to visit, and the current exhibition is: On Edge: Living in an Age of Anxiety.
Science Gallery London
Great Maze Pond
London SE1 9GU
While it is a busy commuter spot and can get pretty crowded, if you head across the bridge, away from the station, you can some pretty incredible views. Walking across the bridge gives you the chance to take in some amazing sites over the river, and we got lucky with the glorious sunshine. If you head down past the Clink Prison Museum you reach the riverside, which has a few restaurants, a couple of pubs and some lovely riverside spots for sitting and watching the world go by.
*The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own.