The top spots in one handy guide…
London has long been the place people go to be where the magic happens. And, in our opinion, it really is a magical place. London is a loud-voiced, brightly coloured cultural melting pot – filled with excitement and innovation and vibrant characters. Around 37% of London’s population was born outside of the UK – which makes it one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world. And this diversity is exactly what makes London so gloriously chaotic. Ahead of the grand opening of our new Lewisham Exchange building, we’re on a mission to help you understand that there’s more to living in the capital than Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and bad weather. Every London borough is different, and we think ours deserves the spotlight.
Our new building, opening September 2021, makes student accommodation into something more than just a place to live. We’ve got 35 floors that will soon hold nearly 800 amazing residents – with breathtaking views across the city, and a prime spot 30 seconds’ walk from travel links that will transport you into the heart of the action in twelve minutes flat.
You don’t have to take our word for it, though. We’ve curated a list here of some of the top spots to visit that are a stone’s throw from our new doorstep, as well as showing you how easy it is to get from Lewisham to all the traditional London tourist destinations.
First thing’s first – how to get around London
Getting around London is easy once you know how. For our residents, the Lewisham train station is two minutes’ walk away. From the station, you can be in the centre of the city in around twelve minutes, and get trains to London Bridge, Waterloo East, Charing Cross, and Cannon Street. The majority of trains coming into the city from South East London run through our stop, so you’re never kept waiting long. Our students are also less than a minute’s walk to the DLR stop (the Docklands Light Railway) – meaning they can get from our front door to places like Greenwich in less than six minutes.
Locals love their student oyster cards – you can pay for your train, tube, and bus journeys and save 30% whilst you’re at it.
Sometimes it’s nice to take your time
If you’re looking for a way of getting around that lets you soak up the scenery, London’s iconic red buses are your best bet. They move a little slower than the trains, so if you keep your eyes peeled you might just spot one of the many hidden gems this wonderful city has to offer. Perhaps you’ll even be the ones to discover the hottest new bar or the freshest Insta-worthy city vista.
The city has so much to offer that you’re sure to be a public transport pro in no time, and then you can concentrate not just on how to get around, but on where it is you want to go!
The best Lewisham spots to eat and drink
One of the things that makes Lewisham the perfect student spot is the pace of the place. The town is a hive of activity, full of hip bars and good food – a bustling borough with entertainment to suit any taste.
We adore all the foodie fare you can get at the Model Market – a legendary spot for late-night eating. It’s built on the site of an abandoned 1950s marketplace that’s been transformed into a tropical paradise. There’s loads of outdoor seating, with some of the most delicious street food and cocktails we’ve ever had. Best of all, the evenings here are soundtracked by live DJs, who are busy keeping everybody dancing until one in the morning.
Get up above the crowd
If you’re looking for food with a view, check out Frank’s Café in Peckham. It’s a rooftop bar run by non-profit arts superstars Bold Tendencies.
Frank’s Café is the perfect brunch spot, which they serve up every weekend. Get your hands on one of their signature Campari cocktails and chill the afternoon away.
Markets with more
If you’d rather cook your own feast, you can get your mitts on super-fresh local produce over at Brockley Market. It’s a lovely spot to wander around, where you can pick up anything from bubbling sourdough starters to totally organic, sometimes even wild-grown, fruit and veg. The market shines a spotlight on locally sourced products, supporting artisan vendors and providing the very best in seasonal goods. It also boasts a selection of fantastic street food vendors if you get peckish whilst you’re out. It’s open Saturdays, 10am to 2pm, and you can check out their Twitter feed for updates.
We also have Deptford Market Yard just 14 minutes away from us. The market is a collection of independent shops built into the beautiful, and historic, railway arches next to Deptford train station. It’s a thriving community of boutiques that take a whole day to properly explore. If you’ve still got energy afterwards, stick around for the evening and make the most of hip cocktail bars and trendy restaurants galore!
Locals love Little Nan’s Bar. Fantastic live music and cocktails in teapots – what’s not to love?
There are peaceful places in London if you know where to look
London life is fast-paced. In our opinion, it’s one of the most wonderful things about living here. Change comes galloping around every bend in the road, saturating the city with the surprising. New trends are constantly appearing, their level of success ebbing and flowing with the social media tides that govern what’s hot. Occasionally, though, we all need to take a step away from the bustle.
For the times that our residents need to take their foot off the accelerator and take in the tranquillity, there are places like the Horniman Museum & Gardens less than half an hour down the road. It’s a beautifully ornate building, and is the perfect place to unwind from the stresses of university life. Soak in the serenity wandering around 16 acres of gardens, or head inside the museum and check out the free exhibits. Don’t forget to stop by the famous overstuffed walrus, who has been on display for over a century. (He even has his own Twitter account: @hornimanwalrus)
If that isn’t enough peaceful tranquillity for you, there’s also Beckenham Place Park half an hour away. Get lost amongst the ancient woodland and bring yourself back to nature. Maybe on the way there, you could stop off at the Lewisham Micro Library. Borrow a book and head to the park for a read, but don’t forget to drop it back at the library when you’re done – heeding the library’s motto: “It’s not what you get, it’s what you leave behind”.
Lewisham has culture on every corner
As well as being a hotspot for food and drink, Lewisham is also full of places you can go to take in London culture. There are museums, gardens and theatres all over, so you’ll never feel too far from the enriching experiences a city like London has to offer.
The Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art is just seven minutes from us. It’s a completely free modern art gallery housed in a Victorian bathhouse, and is home to some of the most interesting exhibitions out there. There are also regular events – with visits from international artists, talks, performances, and film showings.
If visiting Goldsmiths inspires you to make something yourself, you can visit The Lewisham Arthouse, or The Albany, to get to know your own creative side. The Lewisham Arthouse is run by a non-profit artist-led cooperative that offers courses and workshops across a dizzying array of niches – from life drawing and photography to pottery and printing! The Albany is an arts centre that ‘exists to inspire, develop and support creativity’. There are loads of ways you can get involved, from drama programmes to a gardening club. Flex your creative muscles to rediscover the power of play.
If you want to spend your evening at the theatre, but don’t feel like competing with the crowds in the city centre, you can always guarantee an ovation-worthy performance at The Broadway Theatre in Catford. Just twelve minutes travelling to find yourself completely transported.
Top tips for seeing London
Lewisham has such a lot to offer locally, but it’s also just fifteen minutes from the centre of London! Hang on a moment, though, and take your hands off that folding tourist’s map! Here are five tips that will help you leave the hop-on-hop-off bus behind and find the London locals love.
1. Comfort is key
We’d recommend leaving behind those stylish heels and donning your walking shoes. To get the best out of London, put your best foot forward and hit these streets. Surprises are hiding around every corner, so keep your eyes peeled and your mind open – you never know what you might find!
2. (Some of) the best things in life are free
London is a cultural hub, with a museum for every taste. History or art, vintage video games or high fashion – there’s a free museum out there for whatever tickles your pickle.
3. Public transport is your friend
Black cabs look cool, and our cabbies are definitely the friendliest around, but most of us rely on the tube or the bus to get around the city without breaking the bank. Get yourself a student oyster card and learn to make the most of it! We love apps like City Mapper to help with route planning and to get real-time travel updates.
4. Make the most of street markets
We’ve listed some markets local to Lewisham above, but there are loads more across the city too. Portobello Road is the place for everything vintage. Camden Market is foodie heaven. Columbia Road flower market is where we go for all things growy and green.
5. There’s no need to do it all in one day
Newcomers to the city tend to try and cram too much into every day. There is a lot to see, but if you try to get around everything in a few days you’ll end up spending most of your time standing in a tube carriage and missing out. Take your time, and plan your days geographically to make the most of your time.
Ticking the London tourist spots off your visit list
Finally, we know it’s a rite of passage for everyone who moves here to tick off all the top tourist spots. We’re talking Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the London Eye, Madame Tussauds – the whole works. All these places, and many more, are accessible in less than fifteen minutes from the DLR stop less than a minutes’ walk from our front door. So when you’re ready to brave the crowd, we’re in the perfect position to put you directly into the thick of it. After all, the best way to get to know London is simply to get out and see it!