Named after a battle in Belgium, immortalised in a song by four Swedes. Waterloo’s reputation as London’s major travel hub owes a lot to European influence. Fitting then that it’s such a popular point of attraction with visiting tourists. But no matter where you’re from, finding the right Waterloo taxi can always be tricky. Home to the London Eye, the London Dungeons, BFI Imax, The Aquarium (to name but a few) as well as a whole host of bars and restaurants, this little nook on the corner of the Thames is sometimes too busy for even the most accomplished Waterloo taxi driver. With approximately 100 million people passing through it each year, Waterloo train station is the UK’s busiest. A great access point to the South West of England as well as being handily situated on the Bakerloo, Northern and Waterloo & City underground routes. It’s easy to dip in and out of it as you please. Whether you’re visiting the local Southbank on foot or you’re looking to grab a cab to a nearby hotel or restaurant. Waterloo is no longer the scourge of Napoleon. It’s a rather fantastic portal to South London and beyond.
Where to drink
As destination bars go – you can’t do much better than Skylon. Located in the Royal Festival Hall, with views over the river & London Eye. It’s an ideal spot to wind down with a cocktail from their extensive menu. With an outstanding restaurant should you get peckish. It’s just a stone’s throw from the station.
Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX
Train station bars are often high on price and low on quality. Not so in the case of the excellent Cabin. Just a quick hop up the escalator will land you in one of Waterloo Station’s best kept secrets. Built as an old train carriage, it’s draped with lavish Chesterfield armchairs for extra comfort. Oh, and there’s a self-serve wine machine – you ‘eard!
Unit 18 The Balcony, South Bank, Waterloo Station, SE1 7LY
If it’s proper pints, pork scratchings and a little bit of British you’re after. The King’s Arms is just the ticket. A pub in the very traditional sense. It keeps eight real ales on at any time, as well as a decent wine list. And while its location is every bit as genuinely London as its interior. It’s worth getting down early. This one’s no local secret.
25 Roupell St, SE1 8TB
Where to eat
Union Street Cafe
With all the buildup to it opening, this is arguably Gordon Ramsay’s most talked about restaurant. And not without reason either. The low-fi setting in an old warehouse makes for a very modern dining experience. While the seasonal and even daily menus reflect the incredible . fresh produce of nearby Borough market. We recommend you book ahead, it’s unsurprisingly popular.
47-51 Great Suffolk St, SE1 0BS
Anchor & Hope
You’ve got two crowds in Waterloo. Those there for the travel and those there for the theatre. This fine gastropub caters to both. A traditional pub on one side, an unfussy restaurant on the other. Serving modern British food with a brasserie twist. Expect to wait a little bit for a table (they don’t take bookings), but at least you’ll have a decent pint in hand.
36 The Cut, SE1 8LP
One of the most famous buildings on the Thames skyline has to be the Oxo Tower. Famous for sneaking its branding onto the tower face against the Queen’s legislation. It’s also a great spot for some lunch, afternoon tea or dinner. A short taxi ride away from Waterloo Station, it offers unbeatable views over the Thames and St. Paul’s. You simply couldn’t choose a more iconic place to stop for a bite.
Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House St, SE1 9PH
What to do
Towering above London at an impressive 135m, the London Eye is famous for offering unbeatable views of our nation’s capital. Although you can now go higher (at the Shard), there’s no more exciting way to catch a sight of the city from right on the river. They say, on a good day, you can even see Windsor Castle. Which at least saves you a trip to the countryside.
Southbank, SE1 7PB
Young Vic & Old Vic
These two theatres, although located just a stone’s throw away from one another are actually now unconnected. While they once shared patrons, they’ve operate independently for years. Offering some of the most cutting edge theatre in London.They’ve both been home to Sir Laurence Olivier as well as countless other heavyweight actors, directors and playwrights. These theatres are an absolute must visit if you’re in the area.
Young Vic, 66 The Cut, SE1 8LZ Old Vic, The Cut, SE1 8NB
It may seem a bit of a waste to visit the cinema when you’re in London. But the BFI IMAX is such a treat it hardly counts. Located at 1 Charlie Chaplin Walk, you can tell right away this place is a little bit special. Operated by the British Film Institute, it has the largest cinema screen in Britain and shows everything from current releases to Imax films for the kids. Film fans rejoice!
1 Charlie Chaplin Walk, SE1 8XR