Long the haunt of heads-down commuters heading for the station, the area around Waterloo was long for passing through, rather than lingering in. But with the rejuvenation of the entire Southbank, the arrival of Tate Modern and the raising of tourist-magnet London Eye, this has now become a destination worth searching out.
Away from the concrete complex enclosing cultural giants like the Hayward Gallery, National Theatre and Royal Festival Hall are springing up street-food markets, design studios and watering holes for budding thesps around the Young Vic.
The Cut is the kind of rough-and-tumble street where locals have lived for generations, and newcomers come craving the real London experience – for a sample, grab a window seat at the Anchor & Hope, fortified by solid British dishes like pork belly and stuffed goose.
On a weekend, a peep at the quaint Roupell Street sweeps visitors straight into a Georgian drama, though the property prices have nothing antiquated about them (a two-bedroom worker’s cottage here recently hit the £1 million mark).
The river is also a prime attraction, with pop-up bars, book sellers and ubiquitous silver-statue performers lining the bank – look out for the sand artists at Gabriel’s Wharf, turning the heavy deposits of the Thames into statuesque mermaids or other silt statues.
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With the City stretching East and the Houses of Parliament looming to the West, standing in the middle of this span is to be at the centre of all things London.
With 91 million passengers passing through in a year, this is without doubt Britain’s busiest terminus.