Vauxhall area guide

Keep busy south of the river with our guide to Vauxhall's restaurants, bars, pubs and things to do

Love London Awards South Lambeth

You'll know Vauxhall by its gigantic roundabout and under-threat giant steel bus station that occupies what was once the site of the Georgian Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. All that remains of that is a small park of the same name. Join the Thames Path below the looming MI6 to walk along the river to the South Bank; the other direction is a bit of a building site as the Battersea Power Station development, set to open in 2020, transforms the area. 

Damien Hirst opened a gallery here in 2015, spear-heading a new mini arts scene. But Vauxhall is probably best known as one of London’s gay centres, and still proves a lively clubbing and after-party haunt, despite several bars and clubs closing in recent years. Thankfully, the legendary Royal Vauxhall Tavern saw off property developers and remains a LGBT beacon. After something calmer? Seek out the lush, secluded gardens of the bohemian Bonnington Square

The best bits of Vauxhall

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So you've never been to… Royal Vauxhall Tavern?

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Restaurants in Vauxhall

Brunswick House Café
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Brunswick House Café

This Georgian mansion, a tiny beacon of classic calm amid the high-rise apartments and noisy chaos of Vauxhall Cross, has no trouble packing in a young, high-spending, professional clientele. Some are simply stopping by for a cocktail while perusing the desirable bric-a-brac on offer from architectural salvage company Lassco, but most are here to meet, drink, eat and generally enjoy the place’s markedly non-corporate hospitality. It’s an appealing combination of boho-chic comfort, fluctuating lighting (of an evening) and minimalist menu presentation, along with a brilliantly tended bar and extensive lounge. Cocktails are prepared with panache and are good value; the food perhaps less so – following a punchy Pimm’s, an appealing-sounding summery starter of ‘asparagus, peas and berkswell’ disappointed by occasioning a needle-in-a-haystack search beneath a mound of rocket. A main course of grey mullet would have worked better as a starter: both the potato accompaniment and sea greens turned out to be cold salads, and explained why the waitress pressed us to order vegetable side dishes (at extra charge). Bread – chunky and pleasing sourdough – also costs extra after the first slice. Puddings proved a curate’s egg: excellent, crunchy brown bread ice-cream and strawberry ‘tart’ with thin, soft pastry and a slippery cheesecake filling.  

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
3 out of 5 stars
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Counter Vauxhall Arches
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Counter Vauxhall Arches

Like King’s Cross before it, dingy, dirty Vauxhall has long been a hub you pass through via tube, train or bus en route to somewhere better. But things are ever-so-slowly changing, as the railway arches and its surrounds become populated with restaurants of serious aspiration, alongside the area's numerous clubs. Counter is the smartest addition yet – a beautifully designed space with echoes of art-deco whose mirror-adorned walls and comfortable booths are picked out in grey, with warm yellow lighting creating a cosy vibe despite the industrial surrounds. Its premises span the entire length of one arch, but it’s been cleverly divided into two dining rooms so as not to feel cavernous. With the main entrance just yards from the tube and train exits, lots of punters are likely to be frustrated commuters who’ve missed their connection – and that’s what the long, four-sided bar is for, its upbeat cocktail menu peppered with local references, such as the Vauxhall Vesper. Once ensconced, there is much on the French/US brasserie-style menu to tempt you to stay longer. Everything we ate was commendable and well-meaning without blowing our socks off. A bulbous deep-fried duck egg with frisée, beetroot cubes and crunchy croûtons was a little overcooked on the inside, a little undercooked on the outside, while a small fillet of mackerel, though expertly cured in gin and lime, lacked flavour despite a scattergun salad of almonds, chard, cucumber and pear. A main course of beautifully t

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Bonnington Café
Restaurants

Bonnington Café

This cooperatively run vegetarian and vegan restaurant was initially set up back in the '80s to serve the local community – many of whom were squatting nearby. Today it retains the community feel, with a collective of cooks keeping the pans hot. The clientele tends to comprise locals and regulars, too.  Menus are dictated by the chef, and usually by that chef's homeland. Expect, then, dishes influenced by Japan, Italy, France, America and Portugal, all with a vegetarian or vegan bent. And if you really like what you were served on a given day? You can check online who did the cooking and make a beeline for their next shift.  It's also worth noting that Bonnington Café is BYO, and cash-only.  Visit more community cafes in London

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Hot Stuff
Restaurants

Hot Stuff

Twentysomethings, with digs in the locality, love this no-frills venue on snug little Wilcox Road, bringing a hip vibe that’s accentuated by the deep purple walls, mosaic framed mirrors, and fairy lights in the windows. The no-corkage BYO policy is a big draw (there’s an off-licence next door), but so is the food – freshly prepared in the open kitchen at the rear. There’s a brief menu of standard North Indian dishes, as well as daily specials. Expect complimentary popadums with decent chutneys to start. Highlights include sag chicken (bursting with the flavour of spinach) and piping hot chana dahl, but parties of ‘leave it to the chef’ diners fare best, with a wider variety of dishes conveyed to their tables (such as tandoori chicken wings). Our bill, like theirs, was £15 a head.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Things to do in Vauxhall

Newport Street Gallery
Art

Newport Street Gallery

Damien Hirst's gallery space features work from his art collection in a renovated Victorian scenery-painting studio

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Vauxhall City Farm
Attractions

Vauxhall City Farm

This compact farm just off the busy main Vauxhall junction packs in a range of animals, a duck pond and ecology garden

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Royal Vauxhall Tavern
Nightlife

Royal Vauxhall Tavern

Standing firm and proud, the RVT dates from 1863, and remains true to its century-old tradition as a cabaret venue

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Whistle Punks
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Whistle Punks

Venue says: “Whistle Punks is the UK's first urban axe throwing venue. Come along to sling axes, get bulls-eyes and get ultimate glory. Let's do this!”

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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Bars and pubs in Vauxhall

Mother Kelly’s
Bars and pubs

Mother Kelly’s

If the recipe works, why change it? So the thinking seems to go at Mother Kelly’s, where the owners have taken the stripped-back, railway-arch aesthetics applied at their Bethnal Green flagship and recreated them in Vauxhall. 

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
The Black Dog
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The Black Dog

A historic Vauxhall pub and dining room offering seasonal food alongside a drinks selection boasting real ales, continental beers and wines cherry-picked from across the globe. 

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Tamesis Dock
Music

Tamesis Dock

A beautiful 1930s green and yellow Dutch barge moored between Lambeth and Vauxhall bridge. 

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Vauxhall Griffin
Bars and pubs

Vauxhall Griffin

Recently refurbished, the Griffin is a ‘straight’ pub that’s very gay-friendly.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Hotels around Vauxhall

Artist Residence London

Artist Residence London

Set above a welcoming all-day restaurant are ten rooms that are a study in laid-back chic

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
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DoubleTree by Hilton London - Westminster

DoubleTree by Hilton London - Westminster

Overlooking the River Thames, DoubleTree is a 15-minute walk from Buckingham Palace

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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Nightlife in Vauxhall

Clubs

Fire

A non-stop clash of house and techno

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Things to do

Bloc South

The newest of Bloc's late-night, men-only venues

Clubs

Lightbox

An LED-lined club in Vauxhall's railway arches

Users say
2 out of 5 stars
Nightlife

Union

Open six or seven nights a week, for non-stop partying

More clubs in Vauxhall

The perfect weekend in Vauxhall

Visit: Vauxhall Park
Attractions

Visit: Vauxhall Park

Self-contained but prettily landscaped, Vauxhall park is a pleasant oasis.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
See: Newport Street Gallery
Art

See: Newport Street Gallery

Damien Hirst's gallery displays works from his collections in a renovated Victorian scenery-painting studio. 

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Relax: Floatworks
Health and beauty

Relax: Floatworks

Floating is the hot new wellbeing craze, offering stress relief, reduction in anxiety and pain. 

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Eat: Brunswick House
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Eat: Brunswick House

This antique-stuffed Georgian mansion hovers on the edge of a roundabout.

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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