Clapham: Your Local Guide

Clapham: Where chilled out green spaces coexist with busy nightlife. Eugh, let’s cut the trite: basically, there’s a lot to do. And that obvs includes a massive park. And bars. Lots of them. Let’s get to it…

Short on time? Jump to: Highlights, Eating, Drinking, Where to Stay, One Day Itinerary

Exterior of buildings in Old Town, Clapham

The Highlights


One Place

The Common, obvs

As one of the largest open spaces in South London, it’s the perfect spot to meander, relax, sunbathe, have a picnic – you get the gist.

Flowers in Clapham
Bandstand at Clapham

One Café

Common Espresso Bar

A proper espresso bar where you’ll be welcomed like it’s your hundredth visit. The coffee is spot on and the toasties are a must.

Interior of Common Espresso
Coffee and banana bread on a table

ONE BAR

Drop

What every neighbourhood wine bar and bottle shop should be. Incredible team, service and wine selection. Oh, and the cheese.

Table inside Drop Wine Shop
4 magnum bottles of wine with a can of olives

ONE Restaurant

Willows

Probably the most unique restaurant in Clapham, and that’s all down to its menu. Smorgasbord through and through. Sign me up.

Roasted veg in hummus
Food at Willows including charcuterie, cheese, nuts, and other small plates

ONE OVERRATED THING

The Clocktower

Dare we say it: if you’ve seen one, you’ve most certainly seen this one. It’s not bad, it’s just an okay thing to look at. Have a fleeting look as you leave the station.

Clapham Clocktower
Clocktower

Things To Do


Visit Clapham Common, naturally

No decent Clapham area guide will omit the Common, and like the sheep we are, neither will we. As amazing as London is, it can be a concrete jungle. Sitting at 89 hectares (equivalent to 137 football pitches), Clapham Common offers plenty of respite. It’s the green lung of the borough; the ideal spot to sit back, relax and soak in the sun’s golden rays. Heading outside of summer? A wholesome spring walk. Not spring? A crisp walk, then.

If you’ve got kids, there are two playgrounds, four ponds, cafés in and around the park, and public toilets for when needs must.

Long story short: Clapham Common is where you go to while away the hours in uncharacteristically fresh London air.


Venn Street Market

A community food market championing local produce, Venn Street Market is well worth a visit if you’re in the Clapham area on a Saturday. We won’t paint a picture with words, you know what an artisan food market looks like. What we will say, however, is that it isn’t as chaotic as most other markets.

Expect plenty of fantastic food options, including bagels, pastries, cakes, meats, fresh fruit and veg, and that’s just touching the surface. A proper community affair.

Open every Saturday from 10am to 4pm.


Charity Shop Hunting

If this sort of thing tickles your fancy, be sure to allocate a couple of hours to hunting charitable treasure. From designer gear to lesser-known brands, Clapham has many charity shops ready for you to rummage through, and chances are you’ll find some ‘gold’. Let us know how you get on.


Studio Voltaire

Studio Voltaire is a non-profit gallery and artist studio. They champion under-represented artists via exhibitions and live events that challenge your thought process and, dare we say it, the status quo.

Side note: many gallery cafés are pretty dire; an afterthought. Not here. Studio Voltaire recently had Juliet’s as their café resident to much acclaim. They’re in the process of onboarding their new resident – one to look out for.


Clapham Old Town

The Old Town feels more like a wee village than anything else. Essentially a small network of streets with a tree-lined piazza at its core, it’s the perfect spot for meandering and contemplating thinking about thinking.


Bar Hopping

We’re in Clapham, after all. From cocktails and craft brews to relaxed wine bars and more, there’s enough to please even the moaner of your group (don’t worry, we all have one).

Where To Eat


Clapham is renowned for its brunch options, but there’s far more to the area than avo on toast. Here are some of our favourite spots for all things food…

For Brunch:

Bobo & Wild

Born out of Lockdown, Bobo & Wild’s vision was to become a brunch destination and, although only a few years into opening, it has well and truly achieved this accolade.

Just a few minutes from Clapham Common station, this is our favourite spot in the Clapham area for a proper brunch: eggs galore, lamb shawarma, sweetcorn and lime fritters, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Oh, and the coffee is roasted in-house. Lovely stuff.

18 Clapham Common South Side, SW4 7AB; Bobo & Wild

For Value Eats

Willows

Willows isn’t so much a budget eat spot, it’s just damn good value. Taking inspo from their nordic travels, Willows has introduced smorgasbord dining to Clapham’s brunch and dinner scene.

Grab a menu and choose from a variety of small plates. Brunch? Your categories are bakery, dairy, protein and greens. Dinner? Hot, cold, greens and sweet. I genuinely thought it would be a gimmick – I was wrong. It works. And the food is delightful (the pappardelle pasta is gorge).

11 The Polygon, SW4 0JG; Willows

For Fine Dining

Trinity

We’re not including this just because it’s got a Michelin Star – after all, awards aren’t everything – but there’s a reason it’s got one. Trinity opened in 2006 and has become a proper Clapham institution. You come to Trinity for an experience. For special treatment, if you will.

It’s not a fine-dining restaurant that makes you feel like you don’t belong; the staff make you feel quite the opposite. As for the food? Well, divine. It’s not your classic Michelin-star small plates – lunch and dinner menus are 4 courses and fill you up. So if you’re after a special evening with carefully crafted flavours, Clapham’s Trinity is the place to go.

4 The Polygon, SW4 0JG; Trinity

Special shoutout

Bababoom

Not your typical food recommendation but we’re sending one out to these kebab maestros. Forget the 3am grubby kebabs that plague the country, Bababoom are masters of pillowy chargrilled flatbreads, with creative fillings that’ll have you back for seconds. We’re talking beef brisket, chargrilled cauliflower, crispy halloumi and more.

Oh, and you can power up for £15. The power bestowed upon you? Unlimited frozen margaritas. Bababoom is so deserving of this shoutout.

30 Battersea Rise, SW11 1EE; Bababoom


Clapham – Food Scene

Where To Drink


For Pints:

Clapham Tap

With over 21 draughts and casks, The Clapham Tap is your best bet for a pint of the good stuff. Craft beer is their bread and butter, and with a curated selection that constantly changes, chances are this won’t be a quick one. There’s also a great beer garden suited for round-the-clock tipples.

128 Clapham Manor St, SW4 6ED; The Clapham Tap

For Wine

Drop on the Common

Drop is everything you could want from a neighbourhood wine bar & bottle shop. The team are extremely passionate about all things wine and best of all, they’re not afraid to let you into their world. In simpler terms, it’s a place without pretence.

They have a selection of iconic wines and those that you probably haven’t heard of. Oh, and they serve cheese. We had Brillat-Savarin on our most recent visit: our favourite cheese (yes, really) with a glass of red recommended by the Drop team. Glorious. At the time of writing, they’ve over 5 locations in London, so they must be doing something right.

10A The Polygon, SW4 0JG; Drop on the Common

For Cocktails

Havana Coco

Havana Coco is one of the newest additions to Clapham’s bar scene and without blowing too much smoke, it’s here to stay.

Inspired by travel and a time when the sharing of cocktails was a real occasion, Havana Coco offers a little oasis to get your drink on. The service is outstanding and the Latin-inspired concoctions are, dare we say it, a little too easy to drink. You might be unfamiliar with Latin cocktails – we were too, but we bloody love them now.

10 Clapham Common South Side, SW4 7AA; Havana Coco

For Coffee

Lane Eight Coffee

Lane Eight is your coffee spot’s favourite spot. A small, minimalist space that champions the slow lane, it’s the place to take a breather from life’s mania. Coffee-wise, the menu is intentional; a no-fluff, all-filler sort of thing.

The coffee is banging, and my Aussie coffee-obsessed friend swears by their flat whites. I can’t say much more than that.

Fancy some light grub? Lane Eight won’t scratch that itch – head to The Common Espresso Bar instead.

6 The Pavement, SW4 0HY; Lane Eight Coffee


Where To Stay


Hotel

The Windmill

A hotel with a pub or a pub with rooms? Whatever it is, The Windmill is always our first recommendation when looking for a place to stay in the Clapham area.

Boutique rooms with four-poster beds, roll-top baths, coffee machines, and views of The Common, sat above a welcoming dog-friendly pub with many a beer on draft and bottles of wine at your mercy, The Windmill is a winner. Oh, and it’s such good value, particularly given its location. Avg room cost for the summer months: ~£160 with breakfast.

Clapham Common South Side, SW4 9DE; The Windmill

Our recommendation

Airbnb it

Though it may appear to be, we promise this isn’t a cop-out. There are a tonne of fantastic Airbnbs in the Clapham area that far outweigh the benefits of getting a hotel – better location, more flexibility and generally cheaper, particularly in the summer months.

So if The Windmill is full or just isn’t your vibe, open up Airbnb.

If you’ve only got a day…


Morning
First of all, pray the weather is decent. Let’s assume it is. Have yourself a lazy morning stroll around Clapham Common and greet the many dogs doing their thing (walking, that is). As one of the largest green spaces in South London, there are plenty of things to keep you occupied. Grab a pastry from Common Café if you get peckish en route.

Afternoon
Walk done? Many a pond passed? After working up an appetite, take a short stroll to Bobo & Wild and indulge in a hearty brunch. The lamb shawarma is a banging choice for the meat eaters among you. Veggie? We’d recommend the creamy field mushrooms on sourdough.

You can’t have a hearty brunch without walking it off. If it’s a Saturday, get yourself to Venn Street Market. If not, we recommend a couple of things depending on your taste: first, meander around the Old Town and wider Clapham area, paying visits to its many shops. You’ll find plenty of boutique stores selling everything and anything. Oh, and don’t forget Clapham is a hub for charity shops. Second, if you fancy yourself as an appreciator of all things art, make your way to Studio Voltaire. They put on plenty of exhibitions from emerging artists that’ll no doubt scratch your creative itch.

Evening
Right, dinner: get yourself to Willows. Smorgasbord-style dining replete with carefully crafted small plates. Beautiful stuff. After that, well, the world’s your proverbial oyster. Clapham is known for its nightlife and genuinely caters to all tastes. Want a chilled wine bar? head to Drop. Pub? The Clapham Tap. Cocktails? Havana Coco. Late-night café? The Common shuts around 10pm on weekends. In other words, don’t worry about after-dinner activities, there’ll be something up your alley.

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(written by residents)

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