Don’t let the chain stores put you off: Kingston is a rough diamond.
Why go there?
With recent headline-grabbers including the discovery of the world’s biggest ‘fatberg’ in its sewers, Kingston hasn’t always had the best press. But look past this and you’ll find a fantastic old market town which has been invigorated by a huge influx of students and the regeneration of the riverside.
Any decent shopping to be done?
Totally. Outside of the cavernous Bentalls Centre and John Lewis (both Wood Street), there are some great independent places. On Fife Road, Natterjacks has been supplying Kingston with streetwear for over two decades, while Pie 3 looks after the older punters. Banquet Records (Eden Street) is one of London’s most successful independent music stores, and Cass Art (Clarence Street) is there for all your creative needs.
Once I’ve worked up an appetite?
The recently redeveloped market has numerous artisan food stalls jostling with the old-school costermongers. The Terrace Eatery (Apple Market) does the best sandwiches, while Mino (Eden Street) is a good Japanese. Back on Fife Road, there’s the insanely good – but busy – Turkish restaurant Cappadocia, and The Cereal Bar, which serves crisp sandwiches alongside bowls of Frosties and the like.
And for a pint?
The sixteenth-century Druid’s Head (Market Place) is one of the oldest pubs in the area; The Ram (High Street) has a beer garden which opens on to the river; Woody’s (Ram Passage) does everything from good coffee to science talks. Great little boozers in the residential streets include The Canbury Arms (Canbury Park Road) and The Spring Grove (Bloomfield Road).
Plenty. There’s the Rose Theatre (High Street), the comedy club at The Fighting Cocks (Old London Road), classical concerts at All Saints Church (Market Place), several theatres and galleries located within Kingston University (Penrhyn Road), and The Kingston Museum (Wheatfield Way).
And if we’re going on later?
There’s a handful of big clubs, including Hippodrome (St James Road), Pryzm (Clarence Street) and the newly opened Viper Rooms (Riverside Walk). The odd-one out is no-frills basement club Bacchus (Union Street).
And if I do just one thing?
Walk along the towpath from Teddington Lock into the town – it’s a beautiful stretch of the Thames.
By Justin Quirk, an unashamed crisp sandwich lover.
Fancy a change of scene? Take a look at the best bits of Haggerston.