Though it’s roughly a mile-long stretch of central-ish London, with Kennington Park at one end and Lambeth North tube at the other, Kennington Road still feels overlooked. Most Londoners haven’t yet cottoned on to the area’s low-key community vibe and growing array of cool things to do.
Take a closer look and you’ll find Kennington Road is studded with appealing places to hang out – and steeped in history too. Vincent van Gogh once lived in a cottage here and the house where Charlie Chaplin spent some of his childhood, 287 Kennington Road, is marked by a plaque. More recently, the area was home to the late William Tallon: the Queen Mother’s favourite servant, better known as Backstairs Billy.
The best shops and restaurants here are spread across three distinct parades, separated by elegant Georgian houses, modern blocks, and the imposing Imperial War Museum. The busiest cluster is at Kennington Cross, the intersection with Kennington Lane. But Kennington Road is best experienced by walking from one end to the other and taking in the disparate mix of buildings, people and drinking spots along the way. It’s a somewhat random sprawl often dotted with brilliance – a microcosm of London itself.
Something crafty at The Tankard, a smart pub with an excellent roof terrace.
A pint of real ale or a glass of malbec at bright and airy trad pub The Ship.
A frozen daiquiri at The Cock Tavern, a recently renovated bar with a largely LGBT+ clientele and a well-stocked jukebox.
Great-value Japanese food at Hikari Sushi & Noodle Bar, a comfortable and unpretentious pub conversion.
A superior Sunday roast or wood-fired pizza at The Three Stags, the best gastropub in Kennington. Ask to sit in ‘Chaplin’s Corner’, where Charlie’s horrible dad used to drink.
Lamb chops with chilli, herbs and rose petals, or a veggie kebab, from Doost Persian Grill.
Check out some hot new conceptual art at Brocket Gallery.
Take a selfie outside The Black Prince, the cute south London boozer used in ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’. It’s down Black Prince Road but you’ll easily spot it from the main drag.
Have a game of boules in nearby Cleaver Square: one of the area’s most picturesque spots. The bustling Kennington Village Fête is held here every summer.
Sharpen up with a short-back-and-sides at the old-school Waterloo Barber Shop.
Some holiday reading from Vanilla Black Coffee & Books, which has an intriguing selection of new and second-hand reads.
Cute house plants and fresh flowers from the Tomorrow’s People stall outside St Anselm’s Church.
Fancy jams and condiments from Sally White, a classy café-deli which has excellent cakes and pastries if you’re peckish.
And if you only do one thing…
Lose a few hours among the tanks, planes, cannons and trenches of the Imperial War Museum. Since its major refurb in 2014, it’s one of London’s great museums again.
What are your favourite local spots? Vote for them now in the Time Out Love London Awards 2018.