Clubbing mecca and traffic black spot? Sure, but there’s so much more.
Why go there?
For the pleasure of lingering by the Thames while avoiding the thronging crowds along the South Bank.
What’s the vibe?
Gay. Portuguese. Late-night clubbing. MI6. (Not always mutually exclusive.) A hideous gyratory system that obscures plenty of community pleasantness.
What’s that smell?
Last week: the many public urinals. This week: a new street-food garden (South Lambeth Place, weekdays) that’s suitably unpolished. Vendors include Love Smile Jerk and Seven Bridges Deli, who sling stacked pastrami sandwiches.
Any local delicacies?
Italo deli in the leafy utopia of Bonnington Square has glorious sandwiches and lunchtime lasagne. Not just another pretty enclave, all the Georgian houses here were squatted in the ’80s and are now managed by a housing co-op, so the atmosphere is more right-on than rich.
Now I need a drink.
Brunswick House, set in the Georgian splendour of architectural salvage firm Lassco (Wandsworth Road), does excellent cocktails. The Black Dog (Vauxhall Walk) has a reliable selection of ales, and Zeitgeist (Black Prince Road) is good for continental lagers. Gay pub-venue the Royal Vauxhall Tavern (Kennington Lane) is fun and friendly no matter where you fall on the Kinsey scale.
Any celebs about?
Jeffrey Archer in the penthouse and Peter Stringfellow just below, in a building that overlooks the Thames and is inexplicably called Peninsula Heights.
Where’s the party at?
The Hoist men-only rubber club? The dubious roller disco? No, no, you want to go to Casa Madeira: late into the night this Portuguese restaurant on Albert Embankment spills over with families, from toddlers to octogenarians, singing along to synth-heavy pop ballads.
How about a nice sit-down then?
The Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, a den of iniquity since the seventeenth century, is no longer just for clubbers sleeping rough. Relax on the grass near the flirty city-farm alpacas. Or sip Russian Caravan at bougie Tea House Theatre.
And if I only do one thing?
Take in the stupefying banality of the St George Wharf Tower, a fancy new skyline-bruising apartment building that looks like a Clipper lighter.
By Ananda Pellerin, who’s always up for some late-night Portuguese karaoke.