Made famous by an actual palace, home to a well known football team and absolutely brimming with great little boutique shops, bars and restaurants, Crystal Palace is a district on the up. Follow our Crystal Palace taxi driver’s guide to uncover the very best this area has to offer. Here’s an interesting fact for you – which borough of London do you think Crystal Palace is in? In actual fact, on one roundabout next to Crystal Palace Park you’ll find a junction between Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth and Southwark. Skip half a mile further down the road and you’re suddenly in Lewisham. We’d love to tell you this is what gives Crystal Palace such a cosmopolitan and varied demographic but in truth, it’s probably got nothing to do with it. Still though, it’s a good piece of pub quiz knowledge. What makes Crystal Palace truly famous is – or rather was – its palace. Built in 1851 in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition, this giant of iron and glass was then relocated three years later to a park known as Penge Place in south London. Over the next twenty years it went on to become one of Europe’s most popular attractions. Welcoming over 2m visitors each year. And by the time it fell foul of a tragic fire in 1936 it had grown to include a dinosaur park (which has recently been refurbished), a maze, a boating lake and numerous other exciting attractions. Of course, there was a ‘Crystal Palace’ (the place) before the actual palace landed and although it helped bring in new business, it wasn’t the be all and end all of the area. Once better known as Sydenham Hill – which, when you visit, makes a whole lot more sense as it’s one of the highest points in all of London – this towering part of the city has always peered up and over the capital with a certain distinguished provenance. Which is probably why, when you head to the centre of Crystal Palace today you’ll find it so alive with great little bars, restaurants and cafes. Not to mention some really stylish boutique shops. As with anywhere though, Crystal Palace taxi fares can prove expensive. Black cabs cost an arm and a leg, and so many firms now charge ‘surge fares’ when they’re busy. Not so with Addison Lee. We’ve been getting Londoners where they need to go for over thirty years now. Always providing a service that’s reliable, comfortable and safe. Not to mention one that’s 30% cheaper than most Crystal Palace taxi services. Check out our guide to the area for hints and tips on what to do while you’re here, then book through our website or app – it’s that simple.
South of the river and easy to reach, Crystal Palace is one of London’s hidden gems. A picturesque district with plenty of things to do; from bookstores and vintage shops to independent foodie hotspots and gorgeous green spaces to relax and take some time-out from the big smoke.
Take in the city views from Westow Hill, or roam around the Victorian park and witness the oldest life-size dinosaur sculptures in the world. Indulge in a foodie paradise and head over to Crystal Palace triangle where you’ll find a delightful selection of delicious eateries such as family run Sardinian restaurant Mediterranea, or hit up Bloom Café for a sweet treat or spot of brunch.
Explore the area and discover a variety of fabulous shops, where you will find independent bookstore The Bookseller Crow. Well known as a hub for vintage shopping, Crystal Palace is an antique lover’s paradise. Discover all the treasures at Haynes Lane Market, or rummage through four floors of vintage homeware at Crystal Palace Antiques.
This South London district has lots to offer and if you’re looking to end your visit with a refreshment, stop off for a tipple at the Cocktail Embassy!
While you’re there, explore the surrounding areas and take a 10-minute ride through the buzzing streets of Brixton.
WHERE TO DRINK
A real spit and sawdust pub with nothing but great craft ales and some truly decent burgers to its name. Beer Rebellion started life as a small, independent brewery. Shopping out beer its beer to anyone who would listen. Today they have three bars across south London and ship their delicious ale to any number of their favourite pubs and off licences. Beer Rebellion pride themselves on making great drinks as well as a terrific atmosphere and it’s never more evident than in this, their flagship pub.
129 Queen’s Rd, SE15 2ND
Taking pride of place on the famous Crystal Palace Triangle is Westow House. As probably one of the most inviting pubs in all of south London, it’s no surprise that this place is already incredibly popular with the locals. They have eight beers on tap at any one time (always changing), an amazing wine list, Sunday roast to die for (not to mention a weekday menu that’s equally delicious) as well as a pinball machine and foosball table. The interior is fitted out with Chesterfield sofas and battered old furniture, and they’ll even allow you to call ahead to choose the cut of meat you prefer for your roast. Now, that’s service.
79 Westow Hill, SE19 1TX
THE WHITE HART
For a more traditional – but no less impressive – Crystal Palace pub experience, head to the ever popular White Hart. from its big green front (with large stag stencil) to its chequered, chessboard flooring inside, this is a pub with good old fashioned style. These guys like to think of their home as the kind of place you’ll want to come back to over and again. And with their excellent beer and food selection, chances are you will. One of the great things about south London is most pubs have a garden – and this one’s no exception. Head down early on a sunny day to get save your spot in the sunshine.
96 Church Road, SE19 2EZ
WHERE TO EAT
BROWN & GREEN
Full disclosure: there are actually now five separate Brown & Green locations around Crystal Palace, each with their own identity and purpose. We’ve chosen the one on The Triangle for its size and ease of access. Also it’s open til 5.30pm rather than just the morning. But you can just as easily head to the cafe by the park or on Gypsy Hill if you prefer. If you’re in the mood for brunch – this is the place to go. These guys have built a ‘brunch kitchen’ that’s not only incredibly comfortable and appealing, it’s also packed out with unbelievably tasty food and drinks. No better place to brunch in all of south London.
99 Church Rd, SE19 2PR
CRYSTAL PALACE MARKET
From the moment you walk into the Crystal Palace Market you’re presented with a mountain of fresh fish, laid out over ice for your perusal and (hopefully) purchase. It’s a testament to the growing reputation of Crystal Palace as a foodie destination that this place is almost always packed out with ravenous diners making their way through the fresh fish or red meat menu. They serve brunch in the morning and through the day, then by evening it’s all about the grill. Using their mighty Josper they send out great slabs of red meat to their drooling diners in what can only be described as a lively and cosmopolitan atmosphere. The low lighting, clean finish and tiled floors make you feel as though you’re in a flash butchers (they have one of those next door too).
3-7 Church Rd, SE19 2TF
To describe Joanna’s as a an old Crystal Palace faithful would be to do it a massive disservice. For this place has not only been around for a long time, it’s excelled for a long time. Drawing its influences from old-timey San Franciscan flavours, this is a place that prides itself on excellent food and an unwavering attention to service. From its dark mahogany bar and walls to its crisp white linen tablecloths and well turned out waiters, this is probably the fanciest place you’ll ever eat a burger, steak or grill. They serve brunches throughout the week and their Sunday roast is particular sought after. Book ahead to avoid disappointment.
56 Westow Hill, SE19 1RX
WHAT TO DO
CRYSTAL PALACE PARK
We’ve talked about it enough for you to know already that Crystal Palace Park is an integral part of what makes up this and the surrounding areas. But let’s just go into a little more detail as to why you might fancy a stroll in one of south London’s most famous green spaces. Unfortunately no, there’s no longer an actual palace here but you can still visit the remnants. There are the two giant stone sphinxes which once stood at its entrance, there’s a bust to Joseph Paxton (the palace’s designer), there’s even a museum with relics from the great building. But it’s not all about the past, there’s also a maze, a boating park, even a dinosaur park (the world’s first – created just 30 years after the discovery of dinosaurs). Or of course, you can just go for a wander – lovely.
Thicket Rd, SE19 2GA
Even if you’re not a massive fan of football, one trip to Crystal Palace FC’s Selhurst Park will almost certainly convert you. Anyone who lives anywhere in south London will most likely tell you that come match days, the noise of the crowd can be heard for miles around. And when you consider that the ground holds a comparatively small 26,000 people – that’s no mean feat. Crystal Palace have been one of south London’s biggest teams for the past 30 years and are well worth seeing play. It’ll also give you a chance to see their prize mascot – an eagle – fly around the ground. No prizes for guessing the team’s nickname.
Whitehorse Ln, SE25 6PU
CRYSTAL PALACE FOOD MARKET
Definitely not to be confused with the restaurant of (almost) the same name, The Crystal Palace Food Market is an actual market. Running every Saturday from the morning through to the early afternoon, this place is inundated with amazing food stalls. For anyone who thought that hipsterism was a notion confined to east London and Peckham – think again. To hold a stall at Crystal Palace Food market you’ll need to either grow or source your products organically or biodynamically (not sure ourselves). And you’ll have to actively encourage lower carbon emissions as well as strengthening the community’s resilience. Put another way, this stuff’s not just good for you and the environment, it’s also good for Crystal palace itself.
10 Haynes Ln, SE19 3AN