20 years ago Peckham was more likely to be associated with Del Boy and Only Fools And Horses rather than cool, quirky London. But today the area’s one of south London’s coolest, helped by the thriving art scene and gentrification. There’s the infamous Franks, a rooftop bar in a car park, the indie store scene around Bellenden Road, endless chic cafes (that do brunch, the true mark of success) and best of all, it feels like a community.
Dalston has been cool for years but it’s not quite dropped out of the other side yet. At weekends the streets are awash with out of town kids going clubbing but the artsy vibe of Dalston is still there, helped by its hook ups on the Overground Line. Get off the main drag of Kingsland Road to discover literary cafes, community gardens and more pop up supper clubs than you can shake a wooden spoon at.
For a neighbourhood that’s somehow avoided all Tube and Overground links, old Stokey persists in being the grown up version of Dalston – it’s where club kids move onto to have their actual kids, helped by indie boozers, posh pizza parlours, underground cocktails bars and some of the best charity shop shopping in London. It even has its own literary festival.
Gone are the all night raves in train yards of King’s Cross. What has replaced them is a hub of galleries, make and do cafes, multinational headquarters for brands like The Guardian and Google and a commitment to open space and community gardens. There’s a natural pond to swim in and you’ve got some of the best transport links anywhere in London.
Once derided as the maligned edge of London, Walthamstow has benefitted from Hackney’s extortionate house prices, as people who need more than a box to live in pick up and move to this creative, trendy neighbourhood. There are community festivals, neon light museum, God’s Own Junkyard, arts festivals and a thriving support network for new artists in the area. You’ve got Epping Forest and Hackney Marshes on your doorstep for when you need a countryside fix but you can be in Oxford St in half an hour.
Where do British pop stars move to when they want leafy streets and big houses but still want to tear up central London? Kensal Rise. In between Ladbroke Grove and Queen’s Park, Kensal Rise does posh north London to a tee but then brings it back down again with punk rock pubs, indie cinemas (The Lexi is thought to be one of London’s best) and celeb friendly bar/club, Paradise by Kensal Green.
You can’t have a cool list of London neighbourhoods without Hackney Wick. The more arty sister to Hackney, the Wick is a burgeoning collection of warehouses strung along Regent’s Canal and the Olympic Park site. Over the last decade, it’s become a hive of craft breweries like Crate, art galleries, club spaces like Shapes, restaurants and home to the slasher generation, for example gin distiller slash actress, or tech guru slash activist. It is, however, one of the nicest areas to spend a summer day – watching the barges chug up and down the canal whilst sipping an East London made gin.