Welcome to Peckham Rye, one of London’s coolest neighbourhoods

23 September 2022

With its rooftop bars, quirky coffee shops, and art galleries, Peckham has fast become one of London’s coolest neighbourhoods.

While districts like Shoreditch, Soho, and Brixton used to steal the limelight as London’s most trendy areas, there seems to be no stopping Peckham! With Goldsmiths on one side and Camberwell Art School on the other, Peckham’s a hit with students, and the last few years in particular have welcomed an explosion of activity.

The introduction of the Peckham Overground station may be one of the reasons for the neighbourhood’s influx of new residents and visitors, keeping the area well-connected with the rest of London. 

Whether you’re new to Peckham, a seasoned visitor, or a resident, there are tons of restaurants, cafes, bars, and other venues to explore, and I’m here to share my favourites.

Peckhamplex Cinema

It may not look like much on the outside (or the inside, actually), but hear me out. The independent cinema Peckhamplex has been around since 1994 and has become an iconic part of the district’s community.

Tickets are just £4.99 each, making it one of the most affordable cinemas in the capital. Morning, noon, or night, you can head over to catch one of the last films at a bargain price. Now and then, the cinema hosts special film events such as back-to-back series screenings and Q&As with industry professionals.

Yes, it may feature no-fuss interiors that look like the cinema hasn’t been refurbished in a while, but that just adds to Peckhamplex’s old-school charm.

Why not make an evening of it with a bargain movie screening followed by dinner at one of Peckham’s delicious restaurants – one of which I’ll get on to next.

The Begging Bowl

Snug on a corner of Bellenden Road (affectionately known by some locals as ‘Bellenden Village’), The Begging Bowl often ranks highly in magazines and newspapers as one of London’s best Thai restaurants.

The restaurant is inspired by Buddhist traditions and the provinces of Thailand, dishing up a short but exciting menu of sharing plates. The food is varied, delectable, and unique – you won’t find these recipes elsewhere.

Enjoy the likes of deep-fried whole sea bass with physalis, green mango, roasted rice, tamarind, chilli dressing and banana blossom with white asparagus, enoki, peanut, and chilli jam dressing. Sounds intriguing, right?

For desserts, you’re looking at condensed milk ice cream, warm cashew cake, and coconut panna cotta. Mmm…

Frank’s Café

Frank’s Café is actually a rooftop bar and another venue that’s been around in Peckham for a while. For many, Frank’s is why they head down south and visit the area: it’s a London summer highlight.

Sitting ten floors up on top of Peckham’s multi-storey car park, you can enjoy some of the best views across London. Let’s just say the sunsets are epic.

Stroll up Frank’s iconic pink stairs, and you’ll first be greeted with art installations courtesy of Bold Tendencies. Grab an Aperol spritz from the bar and settle in – you’re sure to stay a while and there’s great grub on offer too.

Pop up in the summer months, as Frank’s remains closed during the chillier winter season.

Peckham Rye Park

Another key part of the local community is Peckham Rye Park and Common. Consisting of 113 acres of grassland, the Victorian park features a lake, woodlands, a play area for the little ones and sports pitches.

Stroll through the tranquil green space, and you’ll find people walking their dogs, playing sports, or going for a run. There are plenty of different routes to try out, and the ‘Green Gym’ is an excellent way to stay fit and healthy outdoors, with various equipment and bars available for free.

Peckham Levels

Peckham Levels is a former car park transformed into a trendy space that includes bars, restaurants, shops, yoga studios, and more. There’s even a hair salon and live music studio – this space pretty much has it all, and you could spend the whole day (or more) there.

To reach Peckham Levels, follow the bright neon signs from Rye Lane and head up into the multi-coloured corridor. Inside, take your pick from foodie joints, sit-down restaurants, cocktail bars, and more.

Prince of Peckham

The Prince of Peckham is a classic British pub with a twist. Retreat inside and sink into the cosy armchairs with a towering pint or soak up the rare summer sunshine outdoors in the beer garden.

The menu features Caribbean-British food if you’re looking for something tasty to munch on while you drink and socialise with your friends or make new ones.

This Peckham favourite also hosts a jam-packed schedule of events during the week, including open mic nights, pub quizzes, stand-up comedy, and dance classes. Head over during a weekend night, and the pub comes alive with music and dancing.

Bussey Building

The Bussey Building is otherwise known as the CLF Art Café. It’s a 120-year-old warehouse that hosts all kinds of events, including those in music, theatre, film, art, comedy and more.

Like Peckham Levels, the Bussey Building is teeming with things to do. Whether you want to dance all night to different DJs, catch a flick on the roof, or pick up some vinyl, you’ll have more than enough to keep you occupied at the Bussey building.

Brick Brewery

Ok – Peckham sure has a lot of hip bars! The craft beer microbrewery, Brick Brewery, is one of them, offering a varied selection of tasty beers.

Established from a garden shed in 2013, this hotspot has since become a popular hang-out for beer lovers and social butterflies. Set in one of the old railway arches behind Peckham Rye station, the ambience is pretty great, and the bar is often brimming with people.

Sample one of Brick Brewery’s foundation range beers, like the Peckham IPA or Peckham Pale. Prefer avoiding the crowds but love to try local beers? Enjoy Brick Brewery’s beers from the comfort of your own home by ordering via the online shop or local delivery service.

Phew, after a list like that, there’s no denying that Peckham is one of London’s coolest neighbourhoods! There’s no shortage of hip bars, scrumptious restaurants, and exciting events to visit.

Next time you visit London, venture out from the centre and check out this lively, local neighbourhood.