The Church Street Hotel

Camberwell, London, United Kingdom Book from

Mexico meets south London: a funky, friendly bolthole with great rates
It’s not often you bump into Frida Kahlo in Camberwell. But there she is, gazing down from a wall in our glorious margarita-green room at The Church Street Hotel. Camberwell is in downtown south London - we feel like we're in Guadalajara. Actually, the intricate tiles in our bathroom are from there, and all about are other Mexican treasures, from beaded crosses to señorita dolls. Spanish brothers Jose and Mel have taken 3 old townhouses and merged them into a boho city casita, where walls are the colour of a tequila sunrise and the receptionist sits behind a church altar. A boring beige Kensington boutique this ain't.

But that's what we loved about Church Street - it’s quirky and fun, perfect for young (or young at heart) independent types who've been to London before and want to dig deeper than the main tourist sights. Camberwell may be gritty but it's not dangerous and it makes a good base. You can be in central London in 30 minutes, or stay local to explore Brockwell Park, art galleries and Brixton's markets, pubs and live music scene. Or simply relax: siesta, drink cocktails in the Communion Bar and feast on divine tapas at Angels & Gypsies.

Highs

  • Bright Mex-chic design, with stained glass artistry
  • Kind, helpful staff
  • We revisited in 2015 and loved the food: Iberico chorizo in Basque cider, and lavender-rubbed lamb cutlets
  • A range of room types for every budget, with L'Occitane toiletries and luxe linen; all excellent value for Zone 2
  • An easy walk from Denmark Hill station, with fast trains into Victoria and Blackfriars for the South Bank

Lows

  • Set in a busy urban neighbourhood that may seem overwhelming at first
  • Rooms aren't big but they're super-clean and loaded with charm (welcome notes and Green & Blacks chocolate)
  • Easy to get lost in - corridors twist and turn
  • Surprisingly quiet thanks to triple glazing but bring earplugs if low-key noise bothers you

Best time to go

London is an all-year city, but Church Street is busiest in autumn and early spring.

Our top tips

Foodies could lose themselves for hours at Borough Market (20 minutes' walk from the hotel; open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays). It's one of the largest food markets in London, with a labyrinth of stalls brimming with fish, meat, fruit and veg, cheese, bread, cakes, coffee and ciders from all over the UK. On Thursdays the market's demonstration chef is around to dish out tips and advice.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Foodie
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 27
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

Spread over 3 floors, rooms are cosy but bright gems of colour, from cobalt blue to red pepper. Our Deluxe King was a vivid lime green, offset with a white French Provençal wardrobe and desk. Beds are solid wrought-iron, dressed in crisp white linens and a striped Mexican blanket.

Reclining on the bed, we looked up to a trio of lit alcoves cut into the wall, holding a cross, a doll and a bottle of vintage Havana rum. Along with retro Spanish film posters and Romanian stained glass, it’s these quirky displays that make the Church Street décor unique. Bathrooms are gleaming shells, with multi-coloured ceramic tiles shipped from Guadalajara. Even the sinks are tiled (ours was a sunny yellow and blue), and the floors are terracotta stone.

Generous extras are a welcome surprise. In every room, you'll find complimentary Green & Black chocolates, L'Occitane toiletries, and a small pot of hot sauce 'a la casa'. There are cool books to browse, and linens are top quality.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cd player
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

An organic Continental breakfast includes homemade bread, free-range boiled eggs (delicious with the hotel's hot sauce), orange-blossom honey and Neale's Yard yoghurt. We'd recommend paying extra for the cooked options, too; our veggie breakfast was sublime, with halloumi, homemade baked beans, vast mushrooms and plantain.

Lunch and dinner are also served at Angels & Gypsies, the terrific tapas restaurant. The brothers are passionate about using high-quality seasonal ingredients, creating Spanish classics with an imaginative twist. There wasn't a duff dish amongst our selection: melt-in-the-mouth cod with peas, chorizo in Basque cider, a delicious fresh fennel salad, and patatas pobres with sweet peppers and rosemary.

After our meal, we drank cocktails in the Communion Bar (wonderfully kitsch, with communion wafers and shots of wine). The stained-glass artistry is stunning, bettered only by amazing, home-blended cocktails. After selfless testing for review purposes, we'd recommend the 'Cracked Sky' (Chartrouse Green, black spiced rum, grenadine ginger beer served with pickled ginger and licorice) or the 'Grind & Bubble' (prosecco, Punt E Mes, vanilla & orange flower infused vodka, limoncello and fresh ortanique).

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Walk up The Grove (past beautiful houses) to Denmark Hill train station, and jump on a fast train to Blackfriars on the South Bank. From here, wander along past street art, buskers The Oxo Tower, Gabriel's Wharf and the National Theatre, to the London Eye, then train it back from Waterloo (via Clapham Junction)
  • The Number 12 bus (opposite the hotel) goes to Oxford Street's shops, via Big Ben and Picadilly Circus; a great-value tour of the sights!
  • Back in Camberwell, The South London Gallery has progressive exhibitions (including Gilbert & George and other Turner Prize winners); the GX Gallery is a smart showplace for paintings
  • On sunny days, jump on a bus (10 mins) to leafy Brockwell Park and watch swimmers from the cafe in the Lido or walk and enjoy panoramic city views from the top of the hill
  • Head to Brixton for lively open-air markets (including a farmers' market on Sundays, and a rotating monthly vintage clothes, flea, craft and bakers), international eateries, a film at The Ritzy, famous Electric Avenue, or live music at the famous Academy
  • Drink cocktails and listen to live music in the hotel's basement 'Communion Bar'. There's a daily Blessed Hour from 5-8pm

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping / markets

Kids

Children are welcome and we stayed with our baby daughter but bear in mind this is a city hotel on a busy street and there are no family facilities.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

There's a Triple Room or families can take the double and single rooms that share a bathroom (ask on enquiry). King rooms can fit a baby cot and some have a bath.

Baby listening:

Our monitor reception stretched down to the restaurant so we could 'dine out', but you're best to bring one that can sit on your table; ours was a plug in, so we had to have it behind the bar, with kind staff keeping an eye on it.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
8/
Value
9/
Overall

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Rates for The Church Street Hotel