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The bite-sized guide to London Bridge

Planning to visit London Bridge in the near future – or just want to know the area a little better? Our bite-sized guide breaks down the essentials from hotels to bars 

London Bridge

As part of a new series, Square Mile is providing a simple guide to some of London's best-known areas.

Whether a new visitor to the City – welcome! – or simply wish to extend your knowledge of the capital, our Bitesized Guides should offer easy assistance.

First off, London Bridge goes under the microscope.

Read on for a selection of our favourite hotels, restaurants, bars and activities in the London Bridge area.

Every entry includes its own photo gallery so you can take a closer look.

(Please note, these are not intended as exhaustive overviews but, as the title suggests, short guides: so if we've missed off your favourite haunt, apologies, it's still great.)

London Bridge: where to stay

Forget London Bridge: Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard is one of the finest hotels in London, period. (And definitely the highest.) Housed from the 34th to the 52nd floors of the iconic building, Shangri-La offers a range of amenities: enjoy a cocktail at GŎNG bar, dine at TĪNG restaurant, and take a dip in the infinity rooftop pool. Needless to say, the 202 rooms and suites offer breathtaking views, with the Shangri-La Suite being this most opulent of all. Plus even if you’re a newcomer to London, you’re unlikely to lose sight of your hotel when strolling around the city.

31 St Thomas St, SE1 9QU; shangri-la.com/london

Despite being within ten minutes’ walking distance, Native Bankside is a world away from the Shangri-La. Formerly a Victorian tea warehouse, the hotel is situated on Bear Gardens, a tiny cobbled street tucked back from the Thames. This is the heart of Shakespearean London, with the Rose Playhouse and of course the Globe Theatre just a few seconds away. The rooms range from Crash Pad to Two Bedrooms, and salute the heritage of the hotel through polished concrete, exposed brick walls and arched factory windows.

Empire Warehouse, 1 Bear Gardens, SE1 9ED; nativeplaces.com

Arriving in 2017, the 70-room LaLit London is the first hotel from the Lalit Suri Hospitality Group to open outside of India. The 180 year old, Grade II-listed building was previously a grammar school, but don’t worry, conditions are a little more comfortable these days. The two bars, the Teacher’s Room and the Headmaster’s Room, play off this past, although the 70 bedrooms have an Indian theme rather than, say, a novelty blackboard. The boutique has already picked up several awards: stay there and find out why.

181 Tooley St, SE1 2JR; thelalit.com/the-lalit-london

London Bridge: where to eat

“A large, light and airy farm-to-table restaurant where whitewashed brick walls, big windows and swaying branches of dried foliage match the urban-pastoral dishes, and an inventive, modern approach to cooking meets indigenous underdog produce like yarrow, wood pigeon and rose veal. The menu's short, sweet and strictly seasonal (changing according to the day's deliveries), and you can opt for two or three courses or the full six-course tasting experience.” Read the full review here

32 Southwark Street, SE1 1TU; eatnative.co.uk

“The buzzing archway restaurant is a little snug, but that just means there's less space between you and the plates of tacos, piled high with fillings like deliciously soft chipotle- and cumin-spiced chicken and flakey chargrilled stonebass, to name a few. Two tacos per portion means you can order almost the entire menu and divide the offerings up between the table. There's no need for cutlery – it's all about that hands-on, get-stuck-in vibe that feels like it's lifted straight from the street food stalls of Mexico and deposited on the doorstep of London's Borough Market.” Read the full review here

6-7A Stoney St, SE1 9AA; tacoselpastor.co.uk

“Restaurant founder Max Graham has some serious credentials, being from a long line of English port makers in the Douro, and he's teamed up with head chef Tiago Santos for this venture in the new Flat Iron Square development that makes inventive use of space with two long marble bars in a compact room. You're in for small plates as great prices, which means you can do what we did and like something so much you order it twice.” Read the full review here

Arch 35b, Flat Iron Square, Union Street, SE1 1TD; bardouro.co.uk

London Bridge: where to drink

One of the smallest pubs in London but undoubtedly one of the finest. Rake’s speciality is beer: the constantly changing range of labels is split over seven kegs, three cask lines, and dozens of bottles and cans. The walls are covered by scribblings of tribute left by delighted beer devotees. 'No crap on tap’ says the sticker above the bar: don’t you dare go up and order a Stella.

Borough Market, 14A Winchester Walk, SE1 9AG

A veritable veteran of London Bridge, having opened way back in 2007, The Hide Bar is to cocktails what Rake is to beer. The back bar houses more than 500 spirits, all of which can be utilized to create one of the 70-odd cocktails on offer – although the staff are happy to knock up bespoke specifications. There’s also a decent wine and beer selection available. Worth seeking out.

39-45 Bermondsey St, SE1 3XF; thehidebar.com

Nine Lives could be said to be a mixt of Rake and The Hide, in that it’s a small establishment that serves cracking cocktails, but this Victorian basement bar on Holyrood Street has a style all of its own. The quicky interior is part warehouse, part Club Tropicana: it certainly makes a lovely setting to run through the bespoke cocktail menu. There’s a party every Saturday if you fancy letting off a little steam.

8 Holyrood St, SE1 2EL; ninelivesbar.com

London Bridge: what to do

A London institution since 1599 – give or take the odd 350-year hiatus – Shakespeare’s Globe is probably the most famous theatre in history. Watch some of the greatest plays ever written (and Timon of Athens) performed in their natural setting. Unmissable. shakespearesglobe.com

Another London institution that predates even Shakespeare: a market has stood on the site since at least the 12th century. The current iteration is positively modern, its buildings constructed in the 1850s. A foodie’s mecca. boroughmarket.org.uk

One of the kids, although that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy yourself. Venture aboard the full-sized replica of Sir Francis Drake’s famous galleon that fought off the Spanish Armada way back in the 16th century. Fully sailable, apparently (we dare you). goldenhind.co.uk

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