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Belly dancing, vintage vinyl and a Turkish spa: it’s Camberwell’s best bits

Posted at 10:30 am, July 20, 2014 in Arts & Entertainment, Food & Drink, Music & Nightlife
Kazakh kyrgyz Restaurant

Revel in the oddities of this underrated corner of the south-east.

Why go there?
For eccentric pubs and restaurants, plus our nation’s most beloved A&E department at King’s College Hospital (as popularised by ‘24 Hours in A&E’).

What’s the vibe?
A kind of demi-gentrification: despite its herbal wares being made notorious by cult classic film ‘Withnail & I’ and its legendary Camberwell Carrot, the area was probably never quite as rough as folklore would have it. There are some beautiful old houses (squint, and Love Walk could be a country lane), and there’s been palpable investment of late, with £8m poured into the improvement of the now ultra-sleek Burgess Park.

Angels and Gypsies

Where’s a good place for a special meal?
Angels & Gypsies on Church Street: one of the best tapas bars in London, and the finest restaurant in these parts (though the local branch of Nando’s is genuinely one of the nicest in London).

What about a really special meal?
You asked for it: the Pasha Hotel on Camberwell Road is fucking nuts. Behind its unassuming, narrow frontage hides a building that seems to be about a mile long, housing a Turkish spa and hammam, and the joyously odd Kyrgyz Kazakh Restaurant, a Kyrgyzstani eatery in which the hearty Central Asian cuisine plays second fiddle to the sheer theatre of being in a room festooned with floor cushions, belly dancers, musicians and an actual stream that you have to cross by a bridge.

communion bar

I need a stiff drink after all that.
Camberwell has loads of decent pubs, from the gastro-y Crooked Well on Grove Lane to the delightful Phoenix at Denmark Hill station. The new star in town is Communion Bar, a cocktail bar sister to Angels & Gypsies with a dementedly eclectic drinks list.

blue elephant theatre

Enough food and booze! Any other culture?
The South London Gallery on Peckham Road was the cradle of the YBAs, and remains a vital, forward-thinking space. Bethwin Road’s Blue Elephant Theatre is a cute, fringe venue. And if you’re on the hunt for vintage vinyl, check out Rat Records on Camberwell New Road.

Hermit's cave

And if I only do one thing?
Hole up in the Hermit’s Cave. This Church Street boozer is for those who prefer atmosphere over fancy furnishings, and boasts a gargantuan array of ciders and eccentric old-fashioned drinks. Pint of grog, anyone?

By Andrzej Lukowski, who hasn’t appeared on ’24 Hours in A&E’ (yet).

For more of London’s best bits, take a look at our guides to Hackney Wick to PeckhamHighbury to Brixton.

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