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Welcome to a world of travel, entertainment and culture, curated from a global collective of writers, photojournalists and artists. Each article of our award-winning magazine is sure to inspire, no matter which of our destinations you call home.
            Back to Open Skies

Peckham, London

20 August 2015

Words: Gareth Rees / Images: Rebecca Rees

Until recently most British people would have associated Peckham in south-east London with its most famous fictional resident, David Jason’s exuberant market trader Del Boy Trotter, star of John Sullivan’s long-running BBC sit-com Only Fools and Horses.

But over the last decade or so the district has benefitted from a concerted regeneration effort, embodied in the Will Aslop-designed Stirling Award-winning Peckham Library, which opened in 2000 and now attracts more than half a million visitors a year.

Walk out of Peckham Rye railway station onto the main shopping thoroughfare, Rye Lane, and you will still be greeted with the bustle and clamour of what has long been one of London’s most ethnically diverse localities, but nearby you will find signs of Peckham’s recent transformation into a creative hotspot: Frank’s Café, a multi-storey car park turned bar, restaurant and gallery; and the Bussey Building, a 19th century warehouse reimagined as a performing arts venue. Peckham is buzzing. You would be a fool not to visit.


CLF (Chronic Love Foundation) Art Café occupies the multi-level Bussey Building, a 120-year-old warehouse and former cricket bat factory on Peckham’s main shopping street, Rye Lane. The building gained protected status in 2011, becoming part of the Peckham Conservation Area. It is Peckham’s main cultural crowd-puller, luring people from across London with it’s packed events schedule, which encompasses an array of attractions including top DJs, film nights, dance, comedy and performances by leading theatre companies such as the Royal Court Theatre.

The middle floors are sandwiched between the Bussey Building’s 5,000sqft rooftop, which offers an unobstructed view of London in all directions, and Rye Wax, a basement event space, café, bar and shop selling vinyl, CDs, comics and graphic novels.

133 Rye Lane
+44 20 7732 5275


Named for the elephant-headed god Ganesh (known in southern India as Ganapati), Ganapati Restaurant, located on the corner of Holly Grove and Peckham’s well-known Bellenden Road, specialises in southern Indian dishes inspired by the street food of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Head chef Aboobacker Pallithodi Koya’s and his team offer and extensive main menu as well as a smaller lunch menu, and two can eat a delicious evening meal for around US$60. Rightly lauded by London critics, Ganapati is extremely popular with both Peckham locals and visitors, and it can be tough to secure a table for dinner, but on a Tuesday lunchtime we strolled in off the street without a reservation and ate a remarkable lunch of vegetable thali and kingfish curry.

38 Holly Grove
Tel: +44 20 7277 2928


Opened in 2005, Review is a small but well-loved independent bookshop on Peckham’s Bellenden Road. Owned by long-time Peckham resident and founder of the Peckham Literary Festival Roz Simpson, Review is run with the help of writer Evie Wyld, a former entry on Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists list, and manager Katia Wengraf.

Review stocks mainly literary fiction, but also has a selection of cookery books, art books, children’s books and independent magazines, as well as wrapping paper, greeting cards, stationary and appropriate knickknacks. The shop also hosts book launches and has a small outdoor garden area with seating, where customers can thumb through the latest additions to their libraries with a takeaway coffee from one of the fine local cafés.

131 Bellenden Road
Tel: (+44) 20 7639 7400


Despite this compact Thai restaurant’s popularity, we only waited 15 minutes in a local bar before receiving a call notifying us that our table was ready. It’s no surprise that The Begging Bowl is one of the first restaurants most Peckham residents will recommend to visitors; there is indoor and outdoor seating and the food would have been worth a much longer wait.

The dinner menu features 16 dishes, colour coded to indicate prices ranging from US$10 to US$23, and sharing is recommended. Five or six dishes with a side of jasmine rice are enough for two people. The menu changes regularly, but the green curry of rabbit and the fish cakes with sweet chilli sauce we ordered were delicious.

168 Bellenden Road
Tel: (+44) 20 7635 2627


This independent boutique was opened by former head teacher Sally Hindle on Bellenden Road in 2012. Bias is one of those great stores that really covers all the bases, and stocks a carefully curated selection of clothing, ranging from Ben Sherman shirts to jeans by British label MiH and womenswear from Danish label Baum und Pferdgarten, as well as homeware, beauty products and jewellery and accessories from brands such as Copenhagen’s Beck Sondergaard and Denmark’s Pernille Corydon.

You will also find a selection of locally produced products illustrating Hindle’s commitment to supporting Peckham designers. Bias caters to both men and women, but ladies will find they have more to choice than the gents.

143 Bellenden Road
Tel: (+44) 7798 927 638


A good cup of coffee is not hard to find in Peckham. Choumert Road’s stylish Café Viva sources its beans from South London small batch roastery Volcano Coffee Works; Old Spike Roastery, near Peckham Rye Park and Common, roasts its own beans, serves coffee and provides homeless people with barista training, housing and a job; and there are plenty of other places to keep your caffeine levels high.

But Petitou, opened in 2003 in a former butcher’s shop, provides not only decent coffee but also a respectable selection of breakfast dishes, salads and snacks and a cornucopia of cakes and baked goods, including cookies from The Cinnamon Tree Bakery on Peckham High Street. Order the first-class scrambled eggs and enjoy breakfast amidst the greenery on the terrace.

63 Choumert Road
Tel: (+44) 20 7639 2613


Just across the street from the beautiful modern butcher’s shop Flock & Herd, which local food blogger The Skint Foodie rightly praises as a “top, top butchers”, General Store also aims to transport local food lovers back to a time before supermarkets. Run by young owners Merlin and Genevieve, who live above the shop, General Store is a contemporary interpretation of what a grocer’s shop would have looked like in the halcyon days of the independent high street.

It has been handsomely realised, its wooden shelves lined with a meticulously ordered array of store cupboard comestibles, artisan coffee, craft beers, devotedly sourced cheese, freshly-baked bread and fine wine. On the pavement outside, crates stacked with mounds of bright seasonal fruit and veg act as bait for passing epicures.

174 Bellenden Road
Tel: (+44) 20 642 2129 generalsto.re


Commissioned by not-for-profit organisation Bold Tendencies and designed by the acclaimed young architects Paloma Gormley and Lettice Drake of Practice Architecture, rooftop bar and restaurant Frank’s Café was opened by bartender Frank Boxer and chef Michael Davies in 2008.

A basic wooden structure built by volunteers from scaffolding boards with a red fabric roof, it is Frank’s Café’s location, on the 10th floor of Peckham Multi-Storey Car Park, that brings the hordes who fill its wooden picnic benches and stools during the summer months. The view, which encompasses iconic buildings such as Peckham Library, The Shard and the The Gherkin, is worth the visit alone. Take the stairs and enjoy the art installations during your ascent through the lower levels of the car park.

10th Floor
Peckham Multi-Storey Car Park
Rye Lane



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