What’s the best way to offer our customers great advice on what to do in Croydon we asked ourselves? Talk to the people who know the area best, that’s how. We’ve put together this unique East Croydon taxi driver’s guide so we can guarantee you’ll get where you want faster, more comfortably and always safe and sound. That’s just the Addison Lee way. Croydon’s a funny place. Existing as much as a town in Surrey as it is still a borough of London. To its north you’ll find the more familiar Lambeth; to its south the majestic Surrey Downs. It’s a split that’s come to shape the town in a very unique way. Both as a satellite town and as a thriving part of the capital. Interestingly, a lot of what makes Croydon so unique comes down to its train service. When East Croydon station was first built in 1841 it immediately made this part of south London a major point of access to both London and the south coast. The result was a massive fourteen-fold boost in the local population over the next eighty years. Today there are just over 340,000 people living in Croydon – a lot of whom rely on the train station to take them to work everyday. And like all growing suburbs, the town has been forced to react. Yes, there’s been a certain level of gentrification in the shape of chain bars, restaurants and shops. But there are also plenty of independent merchants still making their way in the region too. Our East Croydon taxi driver’s guide looks to explore some of those local gems to give you a better idea of where to swill, scoff and sightsee in the area. All you need now is an Addison Lee.
Where to drink
Croydon’s a place with any number of decent pubs but we think the two we’ve picked out for you stand head and shoulders above the rest. The Glamorgan describes itself as one of ‘Croydon’s best kept secrets’ – a title we’re sure they’d rather do without. The place is warm and welcoming in that most traditional of ways. And the beer is all suitably cask drawn and well considered. But it’s the food that’s been making a real stir: Seeking out only the very best in game meats, they’ve been known to offer up everything from Crocodile to Wild Boar. All of which is supremely delicious.
81 Cherry Orchard Rd, Croydon CR0 6BE
Save for a couple, there aren’t that many great places to get a cocktail in East Croydon. Which is why Playground is a bit of a godsend. Set up by a former celebrity stylist, the bar seems to stand for everything that’s glam and glitzy. As far as the drinks go, you’d be hard pressed to find anything on the list that doesn’t come in served in an incredibly stylised and inventive manner. Were talking smoking drinks, drinks with sweets in them, even drinks out of spoons! Yes it can be a little naff but at least it owns it and we love it for it.
63 S End, Croydon CR0 1BF
The Oval Tavern
Arguably the most famous place to grab a drink in Croydon, we’ll admit this one’s no trade secret. But factor in how popular the Oval Tavern is with not just the locals but visitors too and you begin to see our reasoning. This is a pub in the most dynamic sense of the word. Exposed brick on its front, comfy and cosy on its inside and sporting a large (and usually busy) beer garden at the back. They even pop the BBQ on when it gets nice and sunny. You can also expect live music, comedy nights and the occasional sporting event on the TV. All in all a great spot for all ages.
131 Oval Rd, Croydon CR0 6BR
Where to eat
Like so many of London’s best restaurants Albert’s Table doesn’t waste time splashing cash on a fancy interior. It chooses instead to focus all its attention on serving up outstanding British cuisine sourced from uniquely local produce. They’ve even got a Market Menu. Since their opening in 2008 they’ve come to be heralded by many as Croydon’s best restaurant. And a place in the Michelin Guide has gone a long way to cement that reputation. Of course the only real way to find out just how good a restaurant it is, is to try it for yourself.
49C S End, Croydon CR0 1BF
Running from 8am – 5pm every Tuesday through Saturday is the rather curious Surrey StrEATery. This place deals in – aside from playful puns – creating a marketplace for some of Croydon’s finest street vendors. From the Mexican delights of La Carreta through to the delicious wraps of Mum’s the Chef, this place is a great stop-off for a quick and slightly different lunch. If you live or are staying locally, then why not get your bread from Plumbuns bakery and sup on a roasting hot cappuccino while you’re at it?
Surrey Street, Croydon CR0 1RG
There are a lot of Indian restaurants in Croydon. Like, a lot. So if you’re in the mood for a taste of the exotic it can be hard to know which ones to trust and which ones are just no good. We’re here to tell you that you can stop your search right now. You need look no further than the outstanding Karnevar. Headed up by chef Manoj Karnavar, this is a restaurant with real pedigree. Having worked at the likes of Claridge’s before, everything he does here is to the highest possible standard. This is not your average curry house, so be prepared to get creative.
62 S End, Croydon CR0 1DP
What to do
Surrey Street Market
This exciting six day market sits right in the heart of Croydon’s central shopping area. So if you’re in the mood for some retail therapy, this is the place to start out. Originally known as “Butchers Row” or perhaps more gruesomely the “Flesh Market”, the area has long been (since 1276) the central spot for locals to pick up their livestock and meats. It’s nothing especially glamorous but if, like us, you enjoy a bit of a stroll and don’t mind a bit of a nosey either then you’ll love Surrey Street Market.
Surrey Street, Croydon, CR0 1RJ
David Lean Cinema
When one of the most famous and celebrated film directors of all time was raised as a local lad, it seems a shame not to celebrate that connection. The David Lean Cinema is all about that celebration. Named after the man who gave us Lawrence of Arabia and Bridge Over the River Kwai, this incredibly cosy little cinema can be found in the Croydon Clocktower. Showing both independent films and bigger blockbusters, the cinema has been hanging on to survive for several years now and can always do with your patronage. Get down there for a unique cinematic experience.
9 Katharine St, Croydon CR9 1
It seems as though if you’re going to come all the way to Croydon, you’d be mad not to enjoy a little bit of the countryside while you’re here. At just over 10mins away in a taxi, Addington Hills offer a quick rural release for anyone hopping off a train at East Croydon. Be warned though, this is no easy stroll, this is the part of London where the topography starts to become a little more erratic. Yes, there really are hills. For those who aren’t put off by a little bit of adventure, we recommend strapping on your boots and setting off. There are some fantastic views to take in and the area is particularly colourful around Autumn time.