Lesser known London: So, you’re living in Camberwell….

Amy Norris - English BA Alumni (Shakespeare Studies MA)

Camberwell is one of my favourite places in London; it’s arty yet unpretentious and offers a strong sense of community whilst still being really close to central London.

Love Walk Café, a favourite of mine in the area, has a reference to Robert Browning printed on its awning: “A young admirer said, ‘There is no romance now except in Italy.’ Browning thought for a moment. ‘Ah well I should like to include Camberwell.’”

Cafe Camberwell

img via nathalielinnea on instagram

It’s difficult not to fall in love with this area of London, and here are my top 10 reasons why it’s got such a special place in my heart:

1. Location
Don’t let ‘Zone 2’ scare you off. Camberwell has actually got one of the best placements in London; right between Peckham and Brixton. This corner of South East London is super community-focused and really multicultural, which makes for an amazing place to live.

2. Travel
Camberwell is really well-connected to the rest of London, and it’s especially easy to get to uni: get one bus from the end of your road straight to Strand campus, or a 10 minute train into London Bridge for Guy’s Campus!

3. Greenery
Tennis camberwell

Who ever said that London wasn’t green? In Camberwell, you’re a walking distance from so many wonderful parks; Ruskin Park, Myatt’s Fields, Lucas Gardens and Brunswick Park to name a few. Burgess Park is my favourite – spread over 140 acres, including tennis courts and cafes.

4. University amenities
You’re spoilt for choice with the Denmark Hill campus, and you’re welcome to take advantage of everything the campus has to offer, even if it’s not where your department is based. For instance, the campus has two libraries (IoPPN Library and Weston Education Centre Library) which I’ve used often to get some studying done as an English student if I didn’t fancy the trip into the Maughan!

Study camberwell

5. Shopping
If we’re talking practicalities: score – you’ve got the big supermarkets all super close. If you’re looking for cheap prices, check out the Morrison’s on Camberwell Green.

If you’re looking for something a little more special, walk over to General Store on the border with Peckham for amazing fresh produce. I dream about their bread selection!

6. Food
If you’re thinking of grabbing a meal out, Camberwell is the home of diverse food  in London. Maloko is possibly one of my favourite places in the world, an off-beat creperie with brilliant smoothies and lots of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Across the street, Silk Road boasts some of the best Sichuan food in the city.

Grab brunch on weekends at Love Walk Café, a student favourite at Denmark Hill, and eat underneath the aforementioned Robert Browning quote. A full English here is half the price of central London and, arguably, twice as good.

7. Incredible coffee
Coffee camberwell

Living in Camberwell, Daily Goods was a daily stop on the way into university for me. I also love Cycle PS; a coffee shop within a bike store.

Lumberjack is a relatively new coffee shop on the high street, and has a mission of helping to target youth unemployment by training up young people and investing their profits back into this scheme. I told you Camberwell was community-focused!

8. Art
Camberwell is one of the centres of up-and-coming art in London. Check out the exhibitions at the South London Gallery and the student shows at Camberwell College of Art. If you’re into more traditional art, the Dulwich Picture Gallery (the oldest purpose-built public art gallery in England) is also super close.

9. Nightlife
Music camberwell As I’ve said before – in Camberwell, you’ve got Peckham and Brixton to choose from which is the best you can hope for in terms of London nightlife. I love Frank’s Café in Peckham; it’s a bar on top of an old multi-story carpark with views of the London skyline. Soul Train nights at CLF Art Café are a must-go too!

10. Music
Located in the basement of CLF, Rye Wax is a record store that hosts live music and DJ sets almost every night. A little closer to home, Rat Records is an amazing second-hand vinyl store just at the bottom of Denmark Hill. For something even more unique, head to the crypt of St. Giles Church for live jazz music every Friday.

Camberwell is real London – you may need to tumble out of bed slightly earlier than 10 minutes before your lecture starts but you gain so much more in exchange! Whether that’s eating your way around the world whilst never straying from one street, or exploring the pubs hidden away down tree-lined side roads, Camberwell has something new to offer every day.


Watch this space for life in Stratford, Denmark Hill and other hot spots for student living in London. In the meantime check out the remainder of the “lesser known London” series, plus the things you can do in London for free or without spending a fortune!

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