The south London borough of Croydon may not be on everyone’s hit list of places to go, but visitors to the area may be pleasantly surprised – there’s a lot going on in the Borough of Culture 2023.

A sprawling metropolis, Croydon is made up of residential towers hulking over Art and Craft style houses and Victorian terraces, and  green spaces which break up the concrete jungle.

Verdant countryside and the Surrey Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are a short drive away, and so Croydon is fringed with old leafy trees and green boulevards.

On ground level, you’ll find a diverse community and a busy neighbourhood buzzing with life, as well as some gems you would perhaps not realise are there.

I spent a weekend in Croydon, sampling restaurants, bars and pubs, and generally seeing what the neighbourhood had to offer - and yes, I did really enjoy myself. Here’s what I discovered.


Things to do


This Is Local London: Croydon hosted the Liberty Festival the weekend I visitedCroydon hosted the Liberty Festival the weekend I visited (Image: Liberty/Borough of Culture 2023)

Croydon Minster

An imposing, regal church that offers a moment of quiet reflection or even just time out, away from the Croydon ongoing outside. Whether you’re religious or not, it’s well worth sticking your head in for a look to admire the stained-glass windows and the minster’s general impressiveness.

Address: Church Street, CR0 1RN


The Queen’s Garden

Attached to a collection of residential towers, the Queen’s Garden is great for little children. Well-manicured lawns surround a well-built playground that has children climbing, swinging and running all over it.

Address: Park Lane, CR0 1YJ

Park Hill Park

Join the picnickers and sunbathers in Park Hill Park for a lay around under the sun when the weather is good. Also take a look at the Park Hill Walled Garden, once a garden providing produce for the Horniman family’s Coombe Cliff house, now a charming community garden growing fruit and veg. You can even join a gardening session on Saturdays, 10am-12pm.

Address: Arthur Court, 2 Fairfield PathCR0 5PB

Surrey Street Market

Similar to Dalston’s Riddley Road Market, the market stalls running along Surrey Street reflect Croydon’s multiculturalism and are laden with all sorts of goodies and wares, from fresh fruit and veg to sea moss gels. Pop into the Asian supermarket to stock up on ramen noodles, kim chi and dried seaweed snacks.

London Borough of Culture 2023

Until the end of the year at least, Croydon is the designated Borough of Culture, and so look out for cultural happenings big and small. On the weekend I visited, I spotted colourful giraffes as part of art trail Croydon Stands Tall, took a look at some of the free events at the Liberty Festival and walked through the Breathing Room by Anna Berry, a moving installation made up of 28,000 cones created by local artists and a structure made out of repurposed bike parts.


Fairfield Halls

Want more culture? Fairfield Halls, a delightfully 70s concrete construction and theatre, has a packed programme of performing arts, year in year out. The programming covers orchestral music, comedy, family stuff, music and theatre. Head up to the mezzanine to for a great spot to catch the sun set over Croydon.

Address: Park Lane, CR0 1JD





This Is Local London: Find Fern at street level of the Ten Degrees buildingFind Fern at street level of the Ten Degrees building (Image: Fern)

Mr Fox Restaurant

A little-bit-nice but still casual enough restaurant on Surrey Street that does a hip hop and RnB bottomless brunch on the weekends. Come here for burgers, Flat Iron steak and good pub grub-esque food, or a cocktail or two at the bar. Good to know, the outdoor dining section is a sun trap.

Address: 34 Surrey Street, CR0 1RJ



Opposite Box Park at street level of one of the swanky new apartment blocks popping up around Croydon, Fern is an all-day dining restaurant that comes with a little bit of glam. A spot to have in your back pocket for date nights or brunch with the girls, the small plates menu is hearty and the cocktail list is equally meaty. A huge chandelier adds razzle dazzle to an otherwise chilled interior scheme.  

Address: Ten Degrees,100a George Street, CR0 1GP


The Store Croydon

Another venue emblematic of new Croydon, The Store gives off industrial chic vibes. Come along in the evening for small plates or wine and cheese, or go a bottomless brunch  and feast on the likes of pineapple waffle or salmon crumpet at the weekend. Th Store also puts on a roast on Sundays.

Address: 73 South End, CR0 1BF



You don’t have to stay at Birch to have dinner at its flagship restaurant. Run by the Michelin-starred chef Lee Westcott (ex-Gordon Ramsay at Claridges, Noma in Copenhagen and Galvin at Windows), Elodie is housed in a Victorian dining room dressed in nostalgic Colonialism and is open to the public and guest alike. The restaurant plates up a superb, reasonably priced six-course tasting menu that tastes like all the good bits of nature and cocktails made with ingredients foraged from Birch’s grounds.

Address: 126 Addington Road, South Croydon CR2 8YA



Bars and pubs


This Is Local London: Art & Craft is a great craft beer bar in the heart of CroydonArt & Craft is a great craft beer bar in the heart of Croydon (Image: Zita Whalley)

Signal Brewery Taproom

While Signal Brewery’s tap room is open throughout the year, it extends its trading hours over summer and the warmer months. Surrounded by all the industrial charm a brewery can have (the courtyard is chalked out with a row of kegs), it’s a great spot for a casual session or a pint or two. Want to try another taproom? Find The Cronx on High Street

Address: Unit 8 Stirling Way, Beddington Farm Road, CR0 4XN


Art & Craft

A great, friendly beer bar right on Surrey Street, Art & Craft has a stack of craft beers on tap and interesting art and stuff to look at on the wall. Have a pint or two in the industrial-chic bar inside, or sit in the no-frills-but-still-cool outside seating section and watch the ongoings of Surrey Street while you try a new brew.

Address: 46 Surrey Street CR0 1RJ


Ruskin House Social Club

With ties to the British Communist Party, Ruskin House comes with a strong left-leaning heritage and the feel and charm of an old diaspora community club. It also has a lovey, old-school beer garden that looks like it hasn’t changed a thing about it since the 80s. Ruskin House hosts regular jazz and folk evenings, as well as open mic sessions and film nights that have more of a socialist twang than a Disney feel.

Address: 23 Coombe Road, CR0 1BD





This Is Local London: Birch Selsdon's art deco lido Birch Selsdon's art deco lido (Image: Birch)

Birch Selsdon

Backing onto 200 acres of rewilded grounds, a stay at Birch Selsdon is like being invited to the posh friend of a friend’s country house for a party where you don’t really know anyone, but you don’t really want to leave.

The second Birch hotel, the Selsdon manor opened in August, and it has all the laidback bucolic, hipster charm as its north London older sibling.

The Victorian country estate is magnificent. It’s retained its majestic bone structure and many original details and has been brought into the present day with a nostalgic, slightly Scandi yet colourful touch, that aims to be more inviting than perfect.

Birch is designed to get you moving around the place, but when you do go back to your room to flop, they are spacious and cheery.  

Two restaurants on site will keep you fed, the hotel’s second restaurant, the light flooded Vervain which looks on to the grounds, is also overseen by the accoladed Lee Westcott. While less formal than Elodie, this  modern British brassiere still takes its ques from nature whatever meal you’re having, including the Sunday roast.  

The whimsically-named Meadow Bar will fuel you throughout the day and into the evening, so you can sip on a cocktail while seeping into a beanbag on the terrace, under the stars, warmed by a fire pit. Meanwhile, Angelica is a bar for the late-night revellers.

The picturesque lido is nestled in a leafy, grassy spot styled out in 1930s chic vibes. Children are allowed during the day, but here’s also plenty of child-free poolside lounging to be had.

Although lounging about is the order of the day at Birch, you can try a host of activities if you fancy. There’s stuff for families, like foraging and wildlife walks in the estate’s immense grounds, or you could try your hand at DJing at a DJ taster session or even make your own ring. If you’re feeling more active, perhaps a yoga, HIIT or spin class is more your style.

The restaurants are open to the public while facilities, including the pool, activities and coworking space and gym are available to guests and members.

Address: 126 Addington Road, South Croydon CR2 8YA