10 reasons to visit Lower Marsh, SE1

Bustling street market in the heart of Waterloo

You’d be forgiven for never having heard of Lower Marsh before. I had never heard of it myself until we moved to the area in 2004. Indeed, most people who do come to Waterloo might head towards the lively and culturally stimulating Southbank Centre or BFI or maybe just cross the road over to the Old Vic.

Blink and you’ll miss this pleasant street which still retains an atmosphere of ‘local community’ despite the more recent changes (out with non descript shops, in with pizza chains, out with historic model bookshop, in with fancy dentistry).

Even reading a Time Out piece from 2016 feels like something from the distant past, many of the outlets mentioned long gone.

So is there still any reason to visit Lower Marsh? Sure there is! Let a local (yours truly) guide you through the Marsh’s best places to check out and the more recent arrivals.

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Visit Lower Marsh

  • Coleman Coffee Roasters 🐾

Thankfully still going strong, Coleman’s coffee shop survived the long pandemic by doing take away window and coffee beans pick up point. We never stopped going by and their flat white is as good as always. One of the best coffee in London without a doubt. Get a bag of their beans for around £8 and receive a free coffee!

  • Greensmith’s

On the corner with Frazier street right in the middle of the Marsh is greengrocer / deli Greensmith‘s. The pandemic caused the owner to shut it down for a few months over the summer to recharge his batteries, and then ended up handing the business over to a group of entrepreneurs who have reopened with a vengeance. Same staff, same coffee (they also sell Coleman’s), but longer opening hours a more selected, researched product offering with some great lunch selections and pastries.

Shopfront of Greensmith
  • Weekdays street food market 🐾

I am in two minds about this, as I very seldom buy take away lunch from the market sellers myself, however the street food market is extremely popular with residents and local workers and the queues during lunch rush are huge! The choice is fantastic too, from korean pancakes to argentinian arepas, from halal middle eastern kebabs to thai curries, there is something for everyone.

Occasionally there are non food vendors and one of the regulars is Johnny Skates Records, selling vinyls – you can’t miss him as he’s playing music all the time!

Market scene
  • Rivers Remedies 🐾

Rebecca has been on the Marsh with her ethical remedies shop for a few years now; the location changed at least three times since it first opened, but not the ethos. The shop is packed to the rafters with British brands and products range from cruelty free make up to refill for household cleaning products, from protein powder to baking essentials.

  • Candiero 🐾

New kids on the block! I was so happy when I spotted ice cream freshly made, even before the girls had their logo painted on the window. They are italian and had opened in the Netherlands before moving to the UK and finding their home in Lower Marsh, in what used to be the local charity shop. Candiero are open in the winter too, with a smaller selection of flavours (classics such as stracciatella and more unusual like Earl Grey); they do coffee and proper italian hot chocolate as well as some cakes (their tiramisu’ is delicious). Expect more flavours in the summer and ad hoc options inspired on local events such as the latin american carnival.

  • Leake Street Arches 🐾

Not technically Lower Marsh but one entrance to this famous graffiti art tunnel is here (the other on the opposite side towards the London Eye). Always a very enjoyable walk (watch out for broken glass if you’re walking the dog!) with ever changing murals and street art and plenty of photo opportunites. The fringe theatre and event space the Vaults is here too.

Street art
  • Ruby Lucy bar

There are now three hotels on the Marsh, which is a little crazy! Ruby Lucy opened a couple of years ago and has a bar on the ground floor, open 24h, which does really nice cocktails and is a very pleasant, relatively quiet place for a drink (at least compared to the rowdy and packed local bars such as Cubana).

Ruby Hotel front
  • Scooter Cafe 🐾

This is pretty much a historic feature of the street, they have been here forever and have featured in many movies too (spot it in one of the Bourne movies). They are licensed and opened most days and evening. The interior is quirky and decorated with plenty of memorabilia and antique and mismatched furniture, and the downstairs is very cosy. The coffee is pretty good and roasted in house and they offer some delicious toasties as well as cakes and pastries.

Cafe front
  • Unwined Waterloo 🐾

Housed in one of the other hotels, Unwined is a wine bar with food (wed-friday). The chefs are Sam and Matt from Klose & Soan and their menu is seasonal and influenced by Mediterranean flavours and spices. It changes every month with some staples such as chickpea panisse, flat breads and chicken wings. The wine selection is fantastic and the service really friendly. They have a back covered terrace which is dog friendly and very relaxed dining.

  • House of Vans / Off the Wall 🐾

I feel lucky this place is so near us. Off the Wall by Vans opened a few years ago in the arches under the railtrack, after the space had been used for some pop up dinners and exhibitions. It is a skaters’ heaven, and while hosting the odd event (secret gigs for example), the main draw is the free use of the indoor bowls and lessons (which get booked up very quickly!). There is an americana style cafe which does breakfasts and burgers too.

Off the Wall - House of Vans entrance

What else?

More outlets will welcome you to Lower Marsh. Here’s a round up:

  • Four Corners 🐾 – another friendly coffee shop with the cheapest quality coffee in the area at £2.70 for a reusable cup flat white
  • Marie’s Cafe – greasy spoon in the morning, thai cafe at lunch and dinner, this is an institution
  • Balance Cafe 🐾 – spacious and open early and at weekends, this cafe does cooked healthy breakfasts, cakes, smoothies and pastries.
  • The Travel Cafe – on the Westminster Bridge Road end of the Marsh, this is a coffee & plant shop; not the cheapest but a cute place to visit.
  • Twice the siren – quirky independent selling greeting cards, objects and jewellery as well as clothes and accessories.
  • Mindset – boutique fitness studio which offers classes and it’s on class pass
  • Honour – established fetish / S&M boutique with a large selection of clothes and accessories, from PVC to leather and rubber.
  • Ryman’s 🐾 – seriously. Because it’s great to have it nearby for any school or craft supplies and the staff in this branch are the loveliest.
  • Tooth – is a modern, clean and friendly dental lab. Because we all need a dentist, don’t we.
🐾 indicates that an outlet is dogfriendly

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