From a simple stroll through narrow arcades to a panoramic view of London from the rooftops, it's not hard to fill a weekend in Peckham
Planning a weekend away in Peckham? Frankly, anyone who looks puzzled and refers to Del Boy and Rodney must have been living under a stone for the last few years. The south-east London neighbourhood has well and truly shaken off its downtrodden rep.
With its vibrant dining scene, street art-filled alleyways and industrial spaces given a new lease of life, it’s arguably London’s hippest destination. One that really comes into its own in summer when rooftops open, cafes and bars spill on to the pavements and festival beats fill the air. Here’s how to spend a weekend enjoying this cool pocket of south-east London…
Go for a wander
Gentrified in parts, gritty in others, Peckham is a mishmash of scenes, cultures and architecture. As soon as you emerge from Peckham Rye Station (currently having a major makeover) you’re immersed in its bustling diversity.
Next to Levan (a restaurant which serves natural wine and modern European food inspired by their love of Paris) and fire-cooked meats at Coal Rooms, there are traditional barber shops, butchers with hanging carcasses, narrow arcades lined with handbags and street-side stalls piled high with saltfish, yams and scotch bonnets.
"Peckham is a mishmash of scenes, cultures and architecture"
You can buy giant land snails from buckets then head into Market Place Peckham for bubble tea and dumplings.
Savour Peckham's diverse flavours
Follow the road south towards Peckham Rye, a gorgeous sprawling green space, for cocktails at plant-filled Zapoi then play retro arcade games at Four Quarters. You could tuck into Baja fish tacos at laid-back Taco Queen or Taiwanese treats at buzzy Mr Bao. Over the road home-style Vietnamese cooking awaits at bánh bánh, great sharing plates at buzzy bistro Good Neighbour and creative cocktails at super-cute Funkidory.
Or stroll north and around the corner to Peckham High Street. Here you’ll find lip-smacking jerk chicken at JB’s Soul Food, pie and mash at M Manze (here since 1927) and middle eastern delights at Persepolis. This saffron-yellow corner shop of dreams is stuffed to the rafters with Persian ingredients with a BYOB restaurant serving great value dishes.
Get up high
Summer pop-up Frank’s Café was the trailblazer for under-rated Peckham’s revival when it opened on the top of a multi-storey car park mooted for demolition. Follow its bubblegum-pink stairs, near beloved cinema Peckhamplex, up to the breezy bar. It’s open from May until late September luring crowds for drinks, delicious plates, sunset views and art. It is host to annual summertime art event Bold Tendencies, a programme of playful artworks and live performances.
Peckham is home to a whole host of rooftop bars with panoramic views of London
The car park’s lower levels are home to Peckham Levels, a multi-use space with studios, salons, bars, and restaurants. It often has free kids film clubs at weekends, leaving parents to enjoy heaving bowls of Indian deliciousness at Boxwallah, Korean street food at Green Choy and West African flavours at Plantain Kitchen.
A crop of other rooftop bars followed Frank’s: Forza Wine with its winning formula of fab wines (many by the glass) and small plates; CLF Art Lounge and Roof Garden; Skylight Peckham and Bussey Rooftop. The latter is an oasis on the top of a huge Victorian-era cricket bat factory re-purposed as a creative hub. In the summer, Yogarise takes its classes to the Bussey Building’s rooftop astro turf, also the setting for an outdoor cinema.
Hang out in Peckham's industrial estate
In summer, the bars and restaurants next to Copeland Park come to life
At the back of the Bussey, Copeland Park hums in summer with its colourful murals, gym, and more bars and restaurants. It is home to evangelical churches, studios and galleries too, and hosts vintage flea markets and community events. From July a farmers’ market starts up on Sundays while the annual Peckham Festival (14-16 September) celebrates community creativity.
"Copeland Park hums in summer with its colourful murals, gym, and more bars and restaurants"
After drinks on Copeland Social’s patio, get a table at titchy Oi Spaghetti (if you can). Its wee wooden cabin has just four tables and an equally bijou menu of spaghettis and tiramisu. Or sip sake cocktails and craft beers at Kanpai London Sake Brewery & Taproom—order takoyaki, gyoza and okonomiyaki to go with it. It hosts brewery tours with tastings, too.
Discover Queens Road Peckham
While most “out of towners” head to Peckham Rye station, get off the train one stop before (or after) and discover Queens Road Peckham. Right under the tracks in an arch is Smokey Kudu. It’d be rude not to go in for a South London Paloma or Queen's Road Sour served with South African snacks (Kalahari spiced biltong, braaibroodjie choux buns).
This sexy grown-up space is part of the family-run Kudu Collective group, owned by South African chefs Patrick Williams and Amy Corbin. Their celebrated first restaurant Kudu is just around the corner and their latest, Kudu Grill, can be found in an old Truman’s pub on nearby Nunhead Lane. A dark and seriously debonair space, it’s all about open-fire braai cooking there.
Shop and stay in "Posh Peckham"
A handsome boozer and boutique hotel on the corner of Bellenden and Montpellier Roads, The Victoria first opened in 1878 but its 15 stylish rooms opened in 2016. This pretty village-like enclave (AKA Posh Peckham) has fab independent boutiques D.A.Y and Form SE15, bookstore Review, artisan butcher Flock and Herd (pick up a bottle of Peckham Hot Sauce Co’s fiery fermented sauces) and fancy grocer the General Store.
There are more brilliant neighbourhood dining spots too—Ganapati is the place for sensational south Indian food, rustic Italian has earnt Artusi a loyal crowd while the Thai street food at Begging Bowl is top-notch.
Read more: East London: A different side to London
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