Located in an area of the city someway off the tourist trail, the Church Street Hotel still remains a fine place to stay if you’re interested in exploring a slightly grittier, hipster London vibe. It may be located on what looks like a fairly nondescript road in Camberwell but Church Street is home to a broad array of independent bars, cafes and restaurants, as well as being a short walk from the nightlife of Peckham, a place we’ll clumsily label London’s Williamsburg–if you squint at it.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Camberwell is a neighborhood on the rise, so alongside all those nice restaurants, bars and cafes that creative types have established, there are also some not so nice aspects to the area. But there’s a definite buzz here that shows a side of London where its regular inhabitants live, work, and socialize.
A strong Spanish-South American inspiration punctuates the rooms with bold colors, Aztec prints, vintage Mexican film posters and some beautiful furniture elevating the simple spaces into something a little more exciting. Not at all what you’d expect to find in the heart of Camberwell, this will suit those with an appreciation for craftsmanship.
Tiled in Mexicana patterned prints, the bathrooms are as colorful as the rooms. The busy Spanish colonial decor is a special look and there’ll be no let up on the eyes when making use of the dual bathtub shower.
Ascend the flight of stairs and you’ll reach the lounge from where you’ll be directed to your room. Who needs a lobby?
A 24-hour honesty lounge bar is good for a quiet drink but there are plenty of bars nearby for a livelier atmosphere. Breakfast is served here in the lounge.
Someway south of the Thames, where the Tube system is limited, buses are the most convenient form of public transport. However, taxis are plentiful and trains offer another option, with Denmark Hill Overground Station connecting to East London or Elephant and Castle and Oval representing the closest Tube stations. Exploring Camberwell on foot, long walks can take you to Peckham Rye and Brixton if you don’t mind a spot of urban hiking.
The incredible Silk Road (1-minute walk) is one of London’s finest Chinese restaurants. The regional cuisine in this simple, no frills spot would be worth travelling for even if your hotel was located on the other side of the city. Yep, that good. Also, rub shoulders with the young and hip at Theo’s (1-minute walk), a sourdough pizzeria with good cocktails.
The lively Stormbird (1-minute walk) has a huge selection of craft beer on tap and by the can/bottle but make sure to bring cash, since a card machine is still the one thing missing from this bar for some unfathomable reason. The Peckham Pelican (11-minute walk) is an arty, DIY space with live music, spoken word and film nights with a good daily happy hour from 5-7pm. If you head for Peckham, go straight to Rye Lane and start with arcade bar Four Quarters (25-minute walk), and bar crawl from there.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Fun and full of personality, this family-run hotel shows that you don’t have to spend a fortune to find a quirky, homely bolthole in a cool neighborhood. Sure, it’s basic, the area is a little rough around the edges and it’s not close to any major sights, but the value for money and the vibrant locale make it somewhere to consider if you want to see the Londoners’ London.