Forest Hill and Honor Oak area guide

Keep busy in SE23 with Time Out's guide to Forest Hill and Honor Oak's best restaurants, bars, pubs and things to do

Forest Hill benefits not only from direct Overground links to Shoreditch and Dalston, but also from its proximity to Sydenham, Lordship Lane and achingly trendy Peckham. However, it's also way more than just a transport hub in a good location. Like nearby Brockley, the area is popular with artists and actors. Then there's also those defecting from East London in search of the capital's next hot location, which could very well be Dartmouth Road, the half-mile stretch linking Forest Hill proper to the fringes of neighbouring Sydenham.

Still, it's managed to retain its genteel heart. Families benefit from one of London’s most eccentric and child-friendly museums, the Horniman (its gardens have some of the best views across London and a bijou farmers' market), and a fairly recently refurbished swimming pool and leisure centre 

Neighbouring Honor Oak – named after a tree in the nearby woods – is overall quieter, but it too has seen a smattering of restaurants and independent shops cropping up. 

Recommended: London by area

Things to do in Forest Hill and Honor Oak

Horniman Museum
Things to do

Horniman Museum

An anthropological museum set in 16 acres of landscaped gardens, which provides extensive facilities for families. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Sydenham Gardens
Attractions

Sydenham Gardens

A community garden that hosts regular events and helps individuals recover from mental and physical ill-health.

Stag & Bow
Shopping

Stag & Bow

This relaxed craft store and workshop offers classes including crochet, needle felting, embroidery and more. 

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Leaf and Groove
Shopping

Leaf and Groove

A second hand book and record shop whose profits provide a sustainable income for Forest Hill Library.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Bars and pubs in Forest Hill and Honor Oak

Sylvan Post
Bars and pubs

Sylvan Post

With retro and recycling being the flavours of the moment, how very on-trend of the Antic pub company to convert a former 1960s post office into their latest bar. Interesting spaces abound in this building, with back offices converted into a variety of kitsch snugs – my favourite being the one with the metal strong room door (presumably where bags of cash were stashed for paying out pensions and benefits). The main room has a European-beer-hall-meets-working-man’s-club vibe: cosy, low-lit banquette nooks to the side, while centre stage it’s all cheap formica tables and industrial-strength lino. A generous wooden bar emulates the original post office counter – albeit without the attack-resistant payment windows. A lively and mixed clientele seemed to be enjoying the great ska/indie soundtrack and excellent beers, from the likes of Meantime and Moor Beer Company. Sadly, the wine was uninspiring, and the food the wrong kind of retro: think school dinners circa 1970, that is, all lumpy mash, watery soup and chewy calf’s liver. The offer was marginally boosted by a half-decent burger and a surprisingly good pear and peach crumble, but we’d say this bar’s strictly for the beer drinkers.

Time Out says
2 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Signal
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Signal

When much-loved Devonshire Road pub The Hob closed down earlier this year, it left a bit of a hole in Forest Hill – and not just among those with a thing for cheap lager. Though unremarkable as a pub, its comedy nights were among the best in southeast London, regularly pulling in A-list gagsmiths for intimate warm-up gigs. In an all-too-familiar story, the people behind the comedy nights have been pushed out to The Star in Plumstead, and The Hob has been replaced by The Signal, where humour isn’t the only thing in short supply.  Presumably in an attempt to keep the former regulars onside, the beer selection is conservative. There were two local cask ales (Brixton’s Effra Ale and Kinsale bitter from Peckham’s Brick Brewery) when we visited, but few interesting options on keg or in the fridge. Decor feels calculatedly inoffensive, as does the soundtrack of Britpop bangers. Even the bar service was cold and seemed uninterested. Overall, it feels a bit like an over-achieving, middle-class Wetherspoons.  Of course, how much you warm to The Signal depends a lot on who you are. Hungover couples will appreciate full brunch and Sunday lunch menus. Parents will appreciate the family friendly vibe and small, covered patio (though perhaps not the huge roaring fire, if their kids have a habit of wandering off). People with oddly specific ethical concerns will appreciate that rotisserie chickens (served in a more formal dining area upstairs) are reared on a walnut-tree farm and roasted o

Time Out says
2 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Book online
Herne Tavern
Bars and pubs

Herne Tavern

The Herne has one of the largest, loveliest and most child-friendly beer gardens in south London, and consequently any mildly clement day will see it packed with local families. Inside, the bar ticks all the ‘fantasy pub’ boxes: real ale, decent wine list, posh crisps, wood panelling, leather sofas, real fire, discreet TV (big events get shown in the garden barn), loyal regulars, live music, a pub quiz… you name it.  The Herne closed for a major refurbishment in 2013, and one thing that got refurbed along with it is the food. All the major bases of pub grub are covered – but there are also streaks of flair uch as broccoli tempura and Oxford Blue brûlée with toasted sourdough. Food highlight of the week for many customers is the hugely popular Sunday roast, a selection of five including fishcakes, all extravagantly garnish with spuds and veg. Brunch food isn't a huge range but it includes some very hearty cooking. The wine list is succinct and fairly priced, but the star on the bar is the changing selection of well-kep cask ales.  

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
The Chandos
Bars and pubs

The Chandos

Venue says: “Local craft beer, delicious thin-crust pizza and the best in sports TV. Monday to Friday lunchtime: any pizza for just £5, noon-3pm.”

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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Restaurants in Forest Hill and Honor Oak

Bona Sourdough
Restaurants

Bona Sourdough

A sourdough pizza joint that does cheese-less and tomato-less (bianca) versions too.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Babur
Restaurants Book online

Babur

This popular Indian restaurant has been thrilling locals with its creative cooking since 1985. 

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Book online
No.41 Coffee & Kitchen
Restaurants

No.41 Coffee & Kitchen

Freshly ground Monmouth coffee fills the cups here, while the food menu takes on a Mediterranean influence. 

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Franklins
Restaurants Book online

Franklins

While actually in East Dulwich, this local asset and it's commitment to careful sourcing is worth a visit.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Book online
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Hotels near Forest Hill and Honor Oak

The Station Hotel
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The Station Hotel

Hotel and pub that serves food all day, starting with breakfast.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Book online
Crystal Palace B&B

Crystal Palace B&B

Crystal Palace B&B is located in zone 3 in London, 600 metres from Crystal Palace Park. Free WiFi is provided and free private parking is available on site.The suite of rooms includes a private lounge with a sofa, table and chairs, and a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. There is a private roof terrace with views of London and the property's garden. For your comfort, you will find free toiletries and a hairdryer.Central London is 7 miles from Crystal Palace B&B. Crystal Palace and its restaurants, shops and bars is 2 minutes' walk from the property. Gatwick Airport is 22 miles from the property.

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Best Western London Peckham Hotel

Best Western London Peckham Hotel

Best Western London Peckham Hotel offers modern accommodation with air conditioning and free WiFi. Buses stop outside the hotel and reach central London in 20 minutes.Refurbished in 2016, all colourful rooms are en suite and offer a flat-screen TV and a hairdryer.The hotel offers a 24-hour reception, and has a garden.A 10-minute train journey from nearby Peckham Rye Station will take you to London Bridge Station. Oval cricket ground is 2 miles from Best Western London Peckham Hotel, and guests can visit Greenwich National Maritime Museum within 35 minutes via public transport.

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The Lilac Door

The Lilac Door

Located in London, The Lilac Door is a family-run bed and breakfast located 1 km from Dulwich Picture Gallery and 2.6 km from Crystal Palace Park. The property is set 5 km from Battersea.All units in the bed and breakfast are fitted with a flat-screen TV. Rooms are complete with a private bathroom equipped with free toiletries, while certain rooms will provide you with a seating area. Chocolates, water and a tea/coffee tray are provided.A Vegetarian, Gluten-free or Full English breakfast can be enjoyed in the breakfast area.Cycling is among the activities that guests can enjoy near The Lilac Door.Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey can be reached in less than 15 minutes by train from the property. London City Airport is 12 km away.

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The perfect weekend in Forest Hill and Honor Oak

Explore: Horniman Museum
Things to do

Explore: Horniman Museum

Go and visit the overstuffed walrus and explore the other treats at this anthropological museum. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Shop: Sugar Mountain
Shopping

Shop: Sugar Mountain

Treat yourself over the weekend with a visit to this retro sweetshop-cum-ice-cream-parlour.  

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Eat: Bona Sourdough
Restaurants

Eat: Bona Sourdough

Fluffy sourdough pizzas with some big flavour toppings that are totally worth experimenting with. 

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Drink: Sylvan Post
Bars and pubs

Drink: Sylvan Post

Grab a G&T and relax in one of the original vaults in this converted 1960s post office. 

Time Out says
2 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars

Comments

3 comments
D T

You can find lots more information about Forest Hill and Honor Oak on the official SE23 Forum at https://www.SE23.com

Georgie Tastemaker

My best friend has an obsession with One Tree Hill (the TV show), so for her birthday we took her to London's very own OTH down by Honor Oak so she could say she was IN One Tree Hill...

She didn't quite realise that is is actually a hill, so didn't wear appropriate footwear, but once we were at the top the foot pain subsided, we caught our breath back (it's actually quite steep and we are super unfit!) as we gazed at the London skyline which is outstanding! This is the Primrose Hill of the South, but with less people and a less convenient public transport service... but I loved it none the less. It might be my go-to picnic spot in the Summer!