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Negronis, indoor climbing and doughnuts: it's the best bits of Bermondsey

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Time Out London contributor

Beer, markets and foodie delights: Bermondsey is buzzing.

What’s the vibe?

Once a slum area and the backdrop for Dickens’s 'Oliver Twist', today Bermondsey has been transformed into a post-industrial dream, boasting more galleries, restaurants and pubs than you could ever need.

Sounds delicious, where do I start?

Bermondsey Street is the main artery and you’re spoilt for choice. For sandwiches and sweet things pop into B Street Deli and ogle at the rows of salami and heaps of pongy cheeses. Further along you’ll find tiny French eatery Casse-Croûte with its menu of Gallic classics. Other hits include Zucca for elegant Italian fare, and rustic Spanish bar-eaterie José (set up by José Pizarro).

How about a drink?

The area has become synonymous with craft beer. Connoisseurs of all things hoppy have been flocking to London’s new brewing heartland around Druid Street, where six microbreweries have made the railway arches their home. If you’re so inclined you can visit each - Kernel, Fourpure, Brew by Numbers, Partizan, Anspach & Hobday and Southwark - on a Saturday. Want a more traditional drinking spot? The Angel (Bermondsey Wall) offers beer with a view, where you can enjoy a bevvy with the Thames flowing beneath your feet. Alternatively there’s The Royal Oak (Tabard Street), a quiet Victorian watering hole that’s just the right mix of scruffy and charming. 

Enough of drinking. Where can I go for some culture?

White Cube opened its expansive exhibition space on Bermondsey Street in 2011, showing incredible work by art world stars like Tracey Emin, Anselm Kiefer and Gilbert & George. Only last month they had a full record pressing plant in there, recording performances by Christian Marclay. Even if the art doesn’t take your fancy, the sparse gleaming white and steel architecture will still impress. There’s also the Fashion and Textile Museum on Bermondsey Street that acknowledges the area’s links to the leather trade (many of the buildings in the vicinity were tanneries during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries). You can’t miss it - it’s bright pink.

James O'Neil

And how about some exercise?

You can get a decent workout at Arch Climbing (Clements Road), one of the capital’s trendiest centres for bouldering (that’s climbing without the use of ropes).

And if I only do one thing?

It’s got to be Maltby Street Market (Ropewalk). On a Saturday, this stretch of railway arches is a bustling, foodie delight. Grab doughnuts from St John’s Bakery, pick up London’s best smoked salmon from Hansen & Lydersen and order a negroni from Little Bird’s gin popup. It’s what London Saturday mornings were made for. 

By Gail Tolley, who tried to get a spray tan at a tannery.

Fancy a change of scene? Take a look at the best bits of Penge.

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