The Elephant Is Waking Up: Lyvly's Guide to Elephant and Castle
Elephant & Castle has long been one of South London’s best kept secrets, boasting a rich culture, unique atmosphere and an awesome nightlife scene. But with a new wave of investment flooding in, everyone is waking up to The Elephant’s charms.
The area has long suffered from some bad PR, largely due to a tricky traffic system, some big overpasses and an unloved shopping centre. Look behind the outdated headlines however and you’ll find a prime Zone 1 location with easy travel, loads of things to do (including stellar club scene) and boatloads of culture.
Key to the character of the area is its demographic makeup. Elephant & Castle plays host to two universities – London College of Communication and Southbank University – as well as buzzing South American and Caribbean communities.
Properties range from Georgian and early Victorian terraces in the West Square conservation area to newer developments like Metro Central Heights and Strata. There are plans to build another 3,000 new homes in the area by 2025.
The Elephant is an area in transition, which means now is the time to jump onboard. Lyvly makes finding your dream home simpler than ever, with stylish properties, simplified bills and awesome community in an area that’s finally getting the spotlight it deserves.
What’s the story?
Fittingly for a transport hub, Elephant & Castle has always been a junction. Originally sitting between two villages – Newington and Walworth – it became a commuter base in Georgian times. By the 20th Century, it was known as the “Piccadilly of the South”, but got hit hard by bombing during World War Two.
When it came time to rebuild, new estates sprang up, followed by the infamous Pink Elephant Shopping Centre in the 1960s, which was the first of its kind in Europe.
After some years of neglect, the area is now the target of a major £3 billion regeneration scheme. The goal is to reorganise the maze of roads to make it more pedestrian friendly while adding a new high street, a town centre and a landscaped new park.
You’ve probably passed through Elephant & Castle before without really thinking about it. That’s because it’s one of South London’s main bus hubs – you can get buses from there to pretty much everywhere in London. And if you’re feeling active then Southwark, London Bridge and South Bank are all just 15 minutes walk away.
You can also jump on the Bakerloo and Northern Lines, getting to Bank in 5 minutes, Southwark and Canary Wharf in 15 minutes, Shoreditch and London Bridge in 25.
The world opens up if you make the 15 minute walk to Waterloo, from which you can head west out of London and beyond.
What’s it going to cost me?
The Elephant is on the rise but prices are more affordable than most Zone 1 locations for now, depending on the type of homes you are moving to.
If you're looking for the kind of luxury apartments that Lyvly has to offer in the area, the price can rise quite dramatically. One bed flats in One The Elephant, for instance, are going for more than £2100 per month.
Council tax has been rising, though not as steeply as some areas, going up about 3% in the last year. The big one to watch out for is climbing rents and rates as development continues.
Rooms in Lyvly's homes in the area start from around £1350 per month, and we make everything simple by rolling your rent, council tax and bills into one monthly payment, which will never rise throughout your time with us.
There’s no surprises, no shopping around for suppliers and no stress. You focus on living your life and making the most of the area as part of Lyvly’s community of like-minded people.
What is there to do in Elephant & Castle?
Let’s get one thing out of the way - the Pink Elephant shopping centre is not for everyone. But while it may not match Westfield in the looks department, it’s got loads of character, stores and restaurants you won’t find anywhere else and is, frankly, a bit of a hidden gem.
To us at least.
It’s due to be torn down as part of the area regeneration, but it’s still home to a rich variety of world restaurants that you should really check out. It’s also got one of the biggest bingo halls in the UK, seating 2,000 keen players since way before it was cool.
If you’re looking for some more refined entertainment then the Imperial War museum digs into Britain’s complicated military history. You can check out the The Cinema Museum which also functions as an actual cinema, showing classic films in retro surroundings and there’s also the Southwark Playhouse, where they put on a range of contemporary drama, comedy and events.
As we all know, no neighbourhood is complete without an outdoor foodie hub. The Elephant’s is Mercato Metropolitano, an Italian market and eatery that also hosts yoga classes and a cookery school.
Although you might not think of it in the same breath as Shoreditch and Soho, Elephant & Castle has a surprisingly robust nightlife scene. For a start, there is the iconic Ministry of Sound, which also now includes Ministry of Fitness, billed as “London's first fitness nightclub” (finally!). More recently, there is Corsica Studios, a back-to-basics club featuring a range of local DJs who are just there to keep you dancing.
If you need somewhere quiet to wind down after all that, Elephant & Castle also includes Burgess Park, a gorgeous green space of fields, flowers and lakes.
Lyvly's Insider Guide
We spoke to not one but two of our Elephant and Castle founding members. George, a key part of our membership committee, and Michaela, his flatmate (and part of the team at Lyvly HQ) give their take on what's best around SE1.
Where insiders eat
On a weekend morning, George makes the pilgrimage to Borough Market to browse the brunch options, but Michaela warns against missing out on Caravan Bankside and its baked eggs in spicy chickpea ragu. For a more traditional English fry up, the Table Cafe and Terry’s Cafe are local institutions that you should definitely check out.
If you are a fan of Vietnamese food, Michaela also recommends the Rao deli. Next to their Banh Mi and Noodle salad, their Pho is an all time favourite amongst locals.
Where insiders go to unwind on the weekend
Michaela keeps it cultural with a stroll to Bankside and a visit at the Tate Modern. Check out the art, claim to understand it all and then go and share your deep opinions with your mates over a roast at The White Hart or the Ship pub. Or skip the art talk and dive into their range of board games.
Meanwhile you can find George toasting the sunset from his Lyvly balcony, gin and tonic in hand.
Where insiders work out
George likes to enjoy the great outdoors, running down the South Bank and enjoying the river views. For those of an indoor inclination, join Michaela at Gymbox on New Kent Road or Snap Fitness Elephant & Castle.
Where insiders cut loose
Showing there’s something for everyone, both Michaela and George swear by Mercato Metropolitano. Not only is it one of London’s best street food markets, but it pairs it with an impressive menu of Gin and Tonics, Cocktails and tasty (German) beer. It’s open all the time with a cosy inside zone and atmospheric garden area. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch some awesome local musicians on their pop up stages too.
Another hidden gem is the Palace SuperBowl on the top floor of the shopping centre. What it lacks in luxury, it makes up for in fun.
Go there with friends and order one of their big food platters, which gives you everything your heart could wish for. It’s a solid night out, which most of the time ends in Corsica Studios around the corner if you’re Michaela, or at The Secret Comedy Club in Soho if you’re George.
If you’re looking for an area to make your own, Elephant & Castle offers unique experiences in an easy-to-reach location that is seriously going places. This is your chance to get in early and discover it for yourself.
Our Elephant and Castle community are incredibly close-knit and are a real example of Lyvly's mission to create London's first (and best) shared living experience. Check out our homes in the area here.