20 July 2016 by Lizzie Greenway
In Brixton there is an energy that transcends the streets, there is a buzz to the area, it is a unique spot in south London with a thriving sense of community. There is a vibrancy and culture, which is unrivalled in most other areas of London; it is easy to see why you can lose a weekend in the streets of Brixton.
In the 18th C Brixton was a wealthy area known for its countryside and windmills, during the late 20th C Brixton was plagued with riots but this is albeit now a distant memory. Today Brixton is a multicultural hub, with a large Afro-Caribbean community, originating in the 1940’s; the West Indian culture is prominent here. Home to the first department store Bon Marche and Electric Lane, the first street to be lit by electricity and the birthplace of the late David Bowie, Brixton has a compelling history.
It is easy to get to Brixton due to the number of transport links that connect to the area; there are buses, trains and tubes. Brixton tube station is on the Victoria line passing through Oxford Circus, from Brixton Train Station you can reach Victoria in several minutes. Brixton is only 25-minutes from the London Eye; it is 70-minutes from Heathrow, and 15-minutes away from Kings Cross.
Wine and Dine
Brixton is bursting with eateries; there are cafes, bistros and restaurants in abundance, an endless array of choice. The food scene is continually evolving with Brixton boasting complex and contrasting cuisine from across the globe.
In the morning head to San Marino, the oldest family run café in Brixton, it is perfect for a hearty full breakfast and a coffee. Breakfast is served all day here, it is noisy and bustling and open seven-days a week, situated on Brixton Road it also has an outdoor area so you can bask in the sunshine. The Lounge is another favourite café in Brixton, it is the perfect place to begin a lazy Sunday, and you can’t beat a brunch here whilst relaxing on one of their sofas.
Brixton Village and Market Row are the two independent markets situated in Brixton and are the home of a great number of street food stalls, including delicious Chinese, Mexican, Caribbean and a number of Pizzerias. Whilst here head to the ‘Champagne plus Fromage Bar’ in Granville Avenue, open 11am to 11pm it is a cosy little café and bar with a myriad of champagne on offer and delicious cheese and charcuterie boards, or Franco Manca. Franco Manca is situated in Unit 4, Market Row, the pizza here is made from slow-rising sourdough, baked in a wood-burning oven, this place is renowned for its pizza across the city.
You have a number of options of an evening, there is Wild Caper, which serves delicious Eastern Mediterranean food, with hot and cold meze’s on offer; it also serves a great Bloody Mary. If you like Spanish food then head to Brindisa, or if you prefer Caribbean food there is Negril. After food there are an array of drinking establishments, try the Prince Albert, the Trinity and the Effra, for music lovers there are often live gigs held at Kaff, there is also Brixton O2 Academy and Plan B nightclub. Be sure to keep an eye out for new bars opening in the area; in the past year Barrio Brixton and Blues Kitchen have both opened here.
Take a walk in Brockwell Park or swim in the lido here. Brockwell Park is 84 acres of green serenity south of Brixton. It is the perfect place to enjoy the first, hazy days of summer. The park is host to a number of areas all of which are interesting and diverse in their own right, there are football pitches close to Dulwich Road if you fancy a kick around. The park opened in 1891, prior to this it was the grounds of the private mansion Brockwell Hall, today you can enjoy tea and cake in this listed building. Brockwell Park playground is impressive; there are sandpits, aerial slides and a paddling pool if you have kids in tow. If you are visiting in summertime Zippo’s Circus may be in residence, or you may be lucky enough to catch a concert or show, or you may be able to enjoy one of the summer fetes often held here.
There are a number of art murals on the streets of Brixton, commissioned after the riots of 1981, once synonymous with Brixton they have now become a distant memory, but the murals remain. The murals convey a range of themes including community, ideas and political themes, you’ll find two on Bellefields Road and by Brixton Station, as well as a dedication to the late David Bowie. Brixton Art Gallery regularly exhibits contemporary and modern art, situated on Brixton Station Road.
The independent cinema the iconic The Ritzy is located in Brixton; this art house showcases a mixture of independent and blockbuster films. The Ritzy cinema is one of the oldest picture houses in south London, it opened its doors in 1911, with five screens, with late night shows, two bars and some lovely café food it is well worth stopping off here to watch a film or for a quick drink.
Pop Brixton is a series of pop up shipping containers down Brixton Station Road, central to Pop Brixton is the idea of community space, helping local businesses and enterprise, there are food and drinks businesses, arts and crafts and event spaces to be explored here. Head to Bookmongers on Coldharbour Lane, it is the ultimate bookshop with a mixture of secondhand books, not only can you purchase some great independent books, you can also have a cuddle from their resident dog ‘Rosa.’ Brixton Village and Market Row is home to in excess of one hundred independent, local businesses, these covered walkways are host to an Aladdin’s cave of cuisine, clothes, art and music; perfect for picking up a unique gift.
Where to Stay
Stay in nearby Camberwell, a short distance away at Church Street Hotel. The hotel describes itself as ‘a Spanish Americana Oasis’, featuring hand-painted Mexican tiles in all the rooms, The Havana Lounge is open 24-hours. The hotel is fun, individual and unique, it brings Latin-American to south London and whilst been funky offers excellent service, a hospitable welcome and comfortable, Mexican art inspired rooms, prices begin from £90.00 for a standard single room with an en-suite.
Brixton has undergone significant transformation, it has been gentrified, whilst maintaining its culture and crass.
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