Living and working in London, one of the world’s key cities, can be an immense privilege, and if you know your way around, a pleasure as well. Sure, the weather is often foul, the pollution thick, the trains crowded, but these are small elements of a far greater tapestry. To travel a mile in our capital can transport you not just through history, but through a wealth of different cultures and experiences.
In today’s local area guide, we shine the spotlight on my personal favourite when it comes to enjoying a little lifestyle after the work is done. Our No 1 Paris Garden business centre is in the heart of creative Southwark. A stone’s throw from the river Thames, the street itself, like everything in London comes with its own story, but we will save that for another day. I will tell you that it is so named either as a deviation of Parish Garden, or one 14th century proprietor of the land and manor; Robert de Paris, and that for two hundred years the 100-acre plot was granted to the Knights Templar by Bermondsey Abbey.
Ancient History should not distract from the great range of contemporary attractions that Paris Garden has to offer, for they are some of the best in the entire city. Walk one minute North and you will find yourself by Blackfriars station overlooking the Thames, with a view of St Paul’s Cathedral. Five minutes to the East you will find Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the ever-impressive Tate Modern. Five minutes to the West you land by the grand brutalist structure of the National Theatre, leading on to the BFI, Royal Festival Hall and Hayward Gallery.
If you are a culture lover, you are no doubt familiar with this celebrated stretch of art and entertainment, but perhaps we can enlighten you to a few hidden gems. If you are a Londoner and have never walked down The Cut, you should stop reading this article and get on a tube to Waterloo or Southwark this instant. A beautiful quiet street, every address is a mouth-watering restaurant or bar, and if not, you are probably by either the Young Vic or Old Vic Theatres, which each boast their own fantastic food and drink venues.
I cannot think of The Cut without mentioning the secret paradise of Isabella Street. A leafy pedestrian walkway of bars and eateries in the shadow of a rail bridge. It is reminiscent of a botanical garden for the sheer number of plants which enshrine the narrow path. The perfect place to enjoy some quietude amongst nature, with plenty of free places to sit away from the establishments, and only the occasional rumble of a passing train to disturb your thoughts.
Further back down The Cut, just towards the rear of Waterloo Station you will find a street which may just take the pick for my favourite place in London. A popular gem in the secret Londoner’s guide, Lower Marsh is a natural extension of the artistic and independent Cut. Beyond Boots and an Iceland, you will find no chain stores here. Only unique family run cafés, inspiring craft shops and galleries, and more often than not you will find a pop-up market selling vintage records, as well as fast and fuss-free food.
It is also home to one of London’s most interesting pubs. Vaulty Towers is more reminiscent of a theatrical treehouse than a traditional tavern. Run in collaboration with the Vaults theatre festival, its décor is a retirement home for interesting props and set pieces from the festival’s shows. It’s impossible to miss, with a vibrant painted exterior that will draw you down the street and through the doors of this quirky house of curiosities. The kitchen does a mean choice of burgers with fantastic vegan options.
Alcohol isn’t for everyone and that is why I’m pleased to champion my favourite shop on the entire street. Frozen River, exquisite purveyors of bubble tea. This family-run business is the best in town and if new to the world of the popular Asian beverage I recommend the Oolong with milk, regular ice, regular sugar and tapioca pearls. You are in for a treat!
Saving the best till last, we’re now coming to the final stretch of our riverside sojourn. Lower Marsh provides the gateway to the famous Leake Street arches beneath Waterloo station. Every inch of this long stretch of subterranean tunnel is canvassed with graffiti. Street art is not only legal here, but actively encouraged, and some of London’s finest hands with a spray can be seen at all hours producing work over work, the arts of yesterday painted over in a riotous carousel of changing colours, characters and scenes. Within the arches of Leake Street themselves, you will find yet again, even more venues for music, food and entertainment, with the aforementioned Vaults Theatre Festival making its home here through the Winter months.
Walk from one end of the tunnel to the next and you will emerge beneath the London Eye itself. If you work in Southwark and have an hour spare at lunch, this circuit, a regular of my own, can be completed in under fifty minutes, with both lunch and bubble tea checked off your list in the process. It never fails to get the cogs turning whilst simultaneously allowing you to get inspired, relax, and stretch your legs all at the same time. It’s one of the small things I’ve worked into my routine that puts a little joy in the every day.
If you are interested in living or working around Southwark, I hope this might have shown you a few tricks. When it comes to all things work-space, we at Halkin are the experts and our business centres between 1 and 3 Paris Garden offer every service available for both the entrepreneur on the move and for established companies looking for a permanent home. Whether you are looking for hot-desks, a private serviced office, or even a whole floor of managed space with a bespoke design to settle into and call your own, we are here to help.