Welcome to the capital’s newest neighbourhood. Stretching between the south London districts of Battersea and Vauxhall, a vast area of the South Bank of the River Thames is undergoing a revolutionary transformation as one of Europe’s largest regeneration programmes. Called Nine Elms – simply after a row of trees that once bordered the road – a booming cultural, leisure, residential and business quarter is rapidly developing alongside the River Thames. At its heart stand some of London’s most iconic sights – the Grade II-listed landmark Battersea Power Station, New Covent Garden Market (the largest fresh produce market in the country) and the ultra-modern new US Embassy. There’s so much planned for this unique London quarter that it’s set to become a must-see destination on any trip to the city; here’s why.
1. A lively food quarter
A new food district is gradually emerging during the first phase of regeneration. Named Circus West Village, both British and international restaurants with riverside views and outdoor terraces have already claimed their spots here. Enjoy a spot of breakfast or lunch created from fresh, seasonal, and locally sourced produce at The CoffeeWorks Project. Dine at the latest outpost of oyster and shellfish specialists the Wright Brothers, where the menu uses ingredients brought in to their business in London’s famous Billingsgate Fish Market. If you’re more in the mood for huge bowls of ramen, stacks of gyoza and a wide selection of Japanese whiskies and sake, try out Tonkotsu. Craving Italian cuisine? Head to Fiume for classic Italian food from Calabria, created by one of the world’s top Italian chefs, Francesco Mazzei.
In fact, top chefs from around the world are fast-taking notice of the area as a destination to do business in; legendary Indian chef Vishnu Natarajan has chosen Nine Elms to launch his first overseas restaurant, Chokhi Dhani London.
2. A cool bar scene
Cocktails while enjoying views over the impressive colossus that is Battersea Power Station? Yes please! The bar scene at Nine Elms is already picking up pace; Vagabond, an independent wine shop and bar, has opened in the area, offering more than 100 wines by the glass, as well as a seasonal food menu and wide range of craft beers… and it’s pièce de résistance is a fully operational winery on site, should you want to explore the intricacies of the wine-making process. Elsewhere on the banks of the Thames is the Nine Elms Tavern, a stylish bar where interior décor combines full-length glass panels – so great views all round – with upcycled materials for furnishings. And head to the river terrace of No.29 Power Station West, a relaxed neighbourhood eaterie and bar for even more of those glorious views.
3. A contemporary shopping experience
With the area very much being developed as a leisure and cultural destination, as well as a residential and business district, get ready for some special attractions to launch. Battersea Power Station will reopen as a retail and leisure destination in 2020, creating the third largest retail destination in central London. Think high-end and contemporary shopping experiences in a jaw-droppingly awesome location. International brands will be stocked in stores throughout the Power Station’s two historic turbine halls; Turbine Hall A – a gorgeous Art Deco creation built in the 1930s – will house the Premium Collection, while contemporary, cutting-edge brands will find their home in Turbine Hall B, a building completed in the 1950s. And, when you’ve finished this state-of-the-art shopping experience, you’ll also be able to tour intriguing elements of the Power Station itself; ride the chimney lift for incredible London views and visit the fascinating A and B Control Rooms of the former power station.
4. Green space galore
London is world famous for its array of parks and green spaces – the Mayor of London wants to make it the first National Park City, with a target of making half the city green by 2050 – and Nine Elms is shaping up to be one of the greenest districts in London. Plans for Nine Elms Park include the creation of a green corridor extending through the district from Battersea Power Station to Vauxhall Cross, with open spaces, public squares and gardens, which, in the future, will also be used for outdoor events and attractions. It will offer a new pedestrian and cycle route through the centre of Nine Elms and will connect to the Thames River Path, which will eventually run the whole length of Nine Elms and be a focal point for arts and culture.
5. Cultural attractions
You can visit Nine Elms now for unique cultural experiences. Here lies a special National Trust site, one of only three National Trust properties in central London; 575 Wandsworth Road. The Georgian terraced house belonged to Kenyan poet, philosopher and novelist Khadambi Asalache, who turned his home into a work of art – the entire house is adorned in hand-carved, hand-painted woodwork. This is a hot ticket too; visitor numbers are limited to just 2,000 a year and tours need to be pre-arranged.
Looking for a contemporary art fix? The Hayward Gallery – which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year – will bring London’s largest free contemporary arts festival, Art Night, to Nine Elms, Battersea and Vauxhall this July, with an art trail running along the Thames in iconic and off-the-beaten-track venues. Or check out exhibitions of work from Damien Hirst’s art collection at the Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall. A good dose of culture can also be found along at the Battersea Arts Centre – its programme is packed with avant-garde theatre, creative sessions, cutting-edge comedy and spoken word.
6. The great outdoors
The area already has outdoor space to enjoy. Visit the New Covent Garden Market for a spectacle of floral blooms that will take your breath away. Or enjoy outdoor escapades at Battersea Park, from Go Ape treetop adventures to boating on the lake, walks in the pretty gardens to an entertaining afternoon at its Children’s Zoo.
7. Interesting places to stay
While Nine Elms is very much within easy reach of central London, the Battersea and Vauxhall area boast a full range of accommodation options.
Already located on the banks of the Thames in Battersea is eco-friendly, five-star boutique Hotel Rafayel, that takes its eco-friendly policies seriously. Here you’ll find a hotel-wide no plastics policy, recycled leather furnishings, energy efficiency initiatives and rainwater harvesting technology, while its spa and restaurants use organic produce. Panoramic views come as standard at the four-star Crowne Plaza London Battersea, which offers a serene, adults-only spa. Alternatively, there are some great nearby budget-friendly options, such as the Holiday Inn Express London Vauxhall Nine Elms.
With so many new residents, workers and visitors expected to the area, the London Underground’s Northern Line is undergoing an extension, which will provide two new tube stops, at Nine Elms on Wandsworth Road and another at Battersea Power station. The new stations are due to be up and running by 2020.
Until then, the area is a short ten to 15-minute walk from the well-connected Queenstown Road, Battersea Park, Vauxhall and Victoria train stations. The area is also served frequently by buses and the MBNA Thames Clippers River Bus service stops at a new state-of-the-art pier that has opened at the foot of the Power Station, a 15-minute journey to Embankment Pier for the West End or 20 minutes into the City.
For more information contact:
VisitBritain Media Teampressandpr@visitbritain.com