Lean, green, and not that mean – Clapham is mostly quite civilised.
Why go there?
For great restaurants, cafés, bars, gyms and one of London’s biggest green spaces.
What’s the vibe?
Spanning three tube stations, Clapham proper is always go-go-go. Clapham Common bustles from dawn until dusk with joggers and people doing strange fitness regimes and sports – tag rugby, Aussie Rules football, Rugbytots; it’s got a lot of balls. Away from the common there’s a lot of quiet residential housing, much of it Audi-lined Victorian-terraced brick.
I’m hungry just thinking about all that exercise. What’s on the menu?
On the common itself is the excellent new Fields park café, serving a hip menu and great coffee. Head towards the villagey Abbeville Road for artisanal shops selling meat, booze and pastries, and for eateries such as Bistro Union. Or plunge into the heart of the beast, Clapham Old Town, to be overwhelmed by choice: too many pubs to mention, the fine-dining Trinity (The Polygon), French patisserie Madeleine, wine bar The Dairy (both The Pavement). If you’re looking for something really special, British bistro The Manor (Clapham Manor Street) recently earned a five-star review from Time Out.
What about those gyms for the January penance?
There’s more than a score to choose from, between the beautifully refurbished Clapham Leisure Centre and that favourite of local muscle marys, Soho Gyms. It’s also home to one of London’s best yoga studios, Yogahaven, which attracts many top teachers and a friendly (if sweaty) crowd of devoted hot yogis.
I need to rehydrate.
Walk down Clapham High Street on Friday or Saturday night at closing time and you’ll be confronted by revellers en route to cheesy disco Infernos, so avoid this peak spillage time. For more civilised quaffing, head into the side streets: The Craft Beer Company (Clapham Manor Street), subterranean wine bar WC, or The Rookery (both Clapham Common South Side) are all exemplary.
And if I only do one thing?
Venn Street on a Saturday bustles with a street market where you can buy beautiful flowers, unusual fruit and veg and lots of interesting street food. Then head to excellent repertory cinema Clapham Picturehouse. Settle into one of their comfy seats and you’ll never want to leave Clapham.
By Guy Dimond, who finds Clapham most uncommon.