The South Bank Cafe Guide

In honor of Time For A Cuppa Day 2013 we have created a cafe guide, giving you the low down on the best spots on South Bank for teas, coffees, smoothies, a glass of tap water, whatever you like. Read our recommendations then try them for yourselves! 


Afternoon Tea at Marriott County Hall: Served in the Library Lounge, you will be surrounded by beautiful, hand carved book cases. Sit amongst the hundreds of books and gaze out of the window, taking in the spectacular vista, across the river to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Choose from a variety of teas, sandwiches and delicate homemade cakes to compliment what will be an unforgettable afternoon, served by the impeccable Marriott staff. Increase the luxury-factor by adding a glass of Champagne!

Click here for more info

Not Afternoon Tea at OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar, and Brasserie: Sample the exquisite delicacies of ‘Not Afternoon Tea’ at OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar, and Brasserie. Their cakes and pastries are like works of art – a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Based around themes such as ‘Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’ and ‘Hot & Sticky,’ there are four luxurious menus to choose from. The added perk? Each menu comes with a free cocktail!

Click here for more info


Gabriel’s Wharf: This little plaza, just metres from the riverfront, is like another world – you could almost forget you were in central London. Nestled amongst the independent and unique retailers, there are some hidden cafe-gems, run by locals and supplying gastro treats such as crépes, pies, and Greek specialities – not all on one plate of course! Lose yourself in this enclave of crowd-free calm.

Click here for more info


The Cut Bar at the Young Vic: As much a local hang-out spot as it is a pre-performance pit stop, The Cut Bar at the Young Vic is an oasis of casual cool minus the usual clusters of intimidatingly-fashionable cool kids (ok there are a couple of them)! With a mix of urban and rustic features (think wooden counter tops, exposed brickwork, lampshade-less light bulbs, and flower pots on the tables) you can feel at the heart of London’s cultural quarter, and in a Scandinavian-cool coffeehouse all at the same time.

Click here for more info 

Benugo at BFI Southbank: With buckets more character than your local pick ‘n’ mix strewn multiplex foyer, Benugo at BFI Southbank is another chilled out cafe-come-bar. In a similar style to the Young Vic, it has a scattering of miss-matched (in a good way) furniture and low level lighting creating an atmosphere that is both chic and relaxed – the way all film venue foyers should be, right?  

Click here for more info


Festival Terrace at Southbank Centre: They call it London’s living room, and you can see why. Grab a spot amongst the families with their picnics, students and freelancers with their laptops, people watchers and concert goers, all going about their business or admiring the view across the Thames. The Royal Festival Hall is a space where everyone and anyone is welcome. Best of all, every Friday afternoon there is free live music in the foyer spaces, for all the revelers to enjoy.

Click here for more info 

National Theatre: Both the Olivier and Lyttleton theatres have their own cafes, perfect for a pre-performance tipple, a relaxing coffee watching the world go by, and light meals – prices as cheap as £6.50, what a bargain! The Olivier Cafe even has a balcony so you can take in a panoramic view of the South Bank. Our top tip – watch out for The Prop Store, the National Theatre’s summertime pop-up bar. 

Click here for more info

For more info on all the cafes, restaurants, and bars on South Bank head to our website www.southbanklondon.com



London Fashion Week is in full swing with shows from Burberry and Vivienne Westwood wowing the crowds in the West End. Just South of the river, we are having our on celebration of fashion and even the Riverside Walk is becoming a catwalk. 

We have a whole host of unique design and fashion boutiques at OXO Tower Wharf, and Gabriel’s Wharf. If you want an alternative view of the London fashion scene and want to meet designers and shop-owners who are Londoners through and through, then head to South Bank. 

Check out these images from fashion blog, Fash ‘n’ Chips www.fash-n-chips.com

OXO Tower Wharf



Imagine festival at Southbank Centre enters its second week and is now in full swing with more events than you can shake a stick at. Whether your kids are tots or teens there’s something to entertain everyone this half term, and lots of it is FREE! Here are our top picks for the coming week. 

BEASTIE - until 20 Feb

Kids take charge as they create their own stories and explore their surroundings hand-in-hand with a very special new friend. The result is a playful, active and engaging experience for small groups of children - and one big surprise for adults!

MEGA - until 22 Feb

This is a coming-of-age tale of one hot summer, schoolgirl dreams and those moments in life when the magnificent becomes the mundane. Bryony invites you to become her nine-year-old self, pull on a shell suit, grab a walkman and embark on a trip down memory lane. 


Pop along and try out some new dance moves and Beatbox skills in these free workshops, led by streetdance youth group Jukebox Juniors and 17-year-old beatboxer Baddaboom Tee.


Calling all future musicals singers, jazz and reggae stars! Come for a day full of songs and be part of our free Imagine Big Sing workshops. Choose your favourite singing style or stay for all three Big Sings to learn and perform songs from much-loved musicals, jazz and reggae. 


Have you seen Spot? Come and join in the fun with this storytelling session featuring games and dancing, plus a chance to meet the world’s most lovable puppy! 

LIGHT BITES - until 21 Feb

Enjoy Light Show at your leisure and you may come across our pop-up Light Bites, created and delivered by participants of our Kids’ Takeover and the Hayward Huddle as part of Imagine Children’s Festival.

Hear what the kids themselves have to say by watch the trailer. Click here to view.






The Last Day of the BFI’s Future Film Festival


So Saturday and Sunday have been and gone to huge success and many may be feeling a bit of a Monday morning lull. Fear not film fans, it’s half term, and the Future Film Festival continues for one more day to kick start the week for any of you lucky enough to be on school holidays and alleviate the start-of-the-week blues for workers and students alike. Today BFI are exploring documentary, so whether you see yourself as David Attenborough, Werner Herzog, or Michael Moore, head down to BFI Southbank for all the latest tips for capturing real life through a lense. 




With the internet allowing us information at our fingertips, do we still need documentaries to teach us about the world beyond our front door? This discussion with FILMCLUB will explore why documentaries still matter to society. They will explain how decisions are made and tested in the production process, and how to maintain integrity in such a competative marketplace.

Like the sound of this? You’ll love: How to Get Ahead In Docs, 2pm


Not only is information at our fingertips, it’s in our hand on the go. Nowadays, cameras on phones can have as many pixels as a digital camera for twice the price so no wonder the use of mobiles to film what’s going on around you is on the rise. Iyare Igiehon will show you how to get the best out of your smart phone as well as explaining what added extras are available to make your mobile doc even better.

Like the sound of this? You’ll love: Becoming YouTube Q&A, 4pm


Have you always wanted to be a Blue Peter presenter, or fancy yourself as the next Parkinson? Well this workshop will teach you how to instigate creative dialogue and use creative editing to ensure the content of your documentary is engaging.

Like the sound of this? You’ll love: Finding Your Story, 12pm



The Real Deal: Afternoon Tea at The Library, London Marriott Hotel County Hall

You can’t beat a good afternoon tea.  Snug in the grand affair of the London Marriott Hotel County Hall is an age old library with books that date back to the 20th century. It’s in here that you can experience afternoon tea as only Marriott know how.

I took two friends to afternoon tea at The Library. We were greeted by very smiley and willing waitresses who encouraged us to have a glass of champagne (or 5), and gave us the menu. The menu is fixed but they asked us for dietary requirements quite early on, and give the impression that they would move heaven and earth to get us a gluten free cake or a vegan sandwich.

The table was laid out with china, and we were brought a impressive looking box of teas in small jars. We were encouraged to smell each of the tea varieties to help us choose, some were fruity, some sour, but fear not, earl grey and traditional English are still on the menu for those not quite as adventurous.  The tea is delivered in large tea pots, too big for the table, but we found a ledge to help juggle all our crockery.

The food comes out on a silver cake stand. The bottom layer is a mix of british sandwiches such as duck egg and mayonnaise, and ham and mustard, all with crusts off, just how my grandma used to make them.  The middle layer is scones wrapped in a napkin to keep warm; savoury cheese scones with cream cheese and chive, and raisin and orange scones with clotted cream and jam. This is the part where (what appears as) a delicate cake stand of food, started to defeat us.

The final top layer was a personal favourite.  Four delicious types of cake including a soft chocolate and nut cake and a mango and coconut tart.  We have a chat with a waiter about other afternoon teas in the area, and find out that everything is made freshly on site, a change from some other options in London.

Oh I nearly forgot to mention the view of the Thames and Westminster – which is pretty iconic, and a USP for Marriott’s Afternoon Tea experience.

Many people live with the impression that hotel resturants, spa’s and bars are just for guests. I’d advise you to get rid of this stigma as you may lose out.  There are a few Marriott stamps on this experience, mainly the exemplary customer service (the hotel staff are dedicated to making everyone feel like a VIP, and they are pretty good at it), but ultimately you won’t notice you are in a hotel  - until you are asked for the room number for your bill….

See you soon,

Rebecca, South Bank London


Sunday at the BFI’s Future Film Festival

Day 2 of the BFI Future Film Festival sees us delving into the mind-boggling world of animation. From Claymation to Anime, 3D to VFX, get the low down on how to bring your imagination to life. With guest speakers from Double Negative, Simon of ‘Simon’s Cat,’  and talks by the brains behind Underwire Festival and Animate Projects (plus many more), the British Film Institute have rounded up the cream of the animation crop  and presented you with more workshops, screening and talks than your could shake a Photoshop 5.0 start-up pack at.  What follows are our top tips for the Sunday of this year’s festival. 



What better way to kick off a day of film indulgence than having a chat with an award-winning director? This touching comedy explores the story of a young boy, Norman, who can talk to the dead, but no one believes him. When a witch’s curse wakens the ghosts and ghouls of the town’s past, Norman might be the only one who can save them. Filled with comic references to classic monster and horror films, it’s no wonder this film has won a massive 16 awards, has been nominated for a further 20, as well as a prestigious Academy Award. Post-screening, pose your questions to director, Sam Fell, and try to deduce how one film can be quite so phenomenonally successful.

Like the sound of this this? You’ll love: BAFTA Animated Shorts, 2pm


Are you the kind of person who is constantly doodling on every available surface? Were you the friend who was always drawing silly cartoons on the faces of the people in the French textbook? We’re guessing a career in animation would be perfect for you. In this session, the guys and gals from Animate Projects tell you how they got into the industry and answer your questions on the best path to follow: How do I work commercially but still continue with personal projects? How do you even start getting your films out there? All will be revealed my friend.

Like the sound of this? You’ll love: I am Legend – How to sell yourself in a competitive industry, 4pm


In this digital age, it’s easy to forget how long it took to turn celluloid into a finished product in the good-old-days. Those of you at the upper end of the FutureFilmFest’s 15 - 25 age range will be old enough to remember the thrill of the disposable camera. The excitement of seeing your prints for the first time (remember when every supermarket had a photo lab?), days, maybe even weeks, after you pressed the shutter release is hard to beat. Those of you at the lower end of the age range may have never taken an analogue photo in your lifetime. Whether you are a first-timer or a nineties-nostalgic, this Super-8 workshop is for you. Shoot a roll of black and white Super 8 film, then mix a nice cup of coffee, Vitamin C and washing soda to develop the it. Once dry the film will be projected, warts, mistakes, focus issues and all. This is as hands on, direct, dirty and quick as working with analogue film gets and has to be seen to be believed.

Like the sound of this? You’ll love: Brickin’ It: The YouTube phenomenon of Lego Animation, 12pm



A Review of ‘Feast’ at the Young Vic

Feast, which has been in development at the Royal Court for two years, is a passionate and honest journey through black history via the religious and cultural implementations of Yoruba. Three sisters, literally separated at a cross-road in 18th century Africa, journey across the globe and through three hundred years of history, facing the plights and struggles set upon the African community along the way.

There are touching and thoughtful nods to the Amistad and the Little Rock nine throughout Feast, but what sets this play apart from other dramas which explore these difficult themes is the strength and originality of the characters and the moral dilemmas which drive each of the play’s historically charged vignettes. In 1800’s Brazil, where slavery has just been abolished, one of the sisters worries about the mental wellbeing of her now bankrupt master and fears for her own safety and prosperity in a land where she is reeling without purpose. Feast makes the bold and brave move to not vilify or canonise either side in these social commentaries. Both the master and the slave are innocent victims of the surroundings which they inhabit – the enormity of time and the earth becoming characters, within themselves, which influence the action. This means that, above all else, Feast is about the people and, although there are lessons to be learnt from each sub-narrative, it does not rely on or fall too heavily into the comfortable groove of pseudo-philosophical teachings.

Abreast to the character driven thematic content of Feast is the seamless blend of countless theatrical disciplines and modes of performance utilised to bring this epic to life. Be it soliloquies, naturalistic two-handers, physical theatre, music, song, video projection or dance (dances which are mostly performed by an offensively attractive and scantily clad young man and woman, much to pleasure of the audience) Feast always delivers the goods to a staggeringly high quality. The use of the aforementioned projections provides some of the most memorable moments in the show with the performers influencing the video and vice versa. They sink through and appear out of the beaded back drop which serves as the screen and create a sense of fluidity and unity between them and the staging, thus complimenting the theme of being an influential and intelligible produce of your physical environment.

The Young Vic and The Royal Court have scored in producing a play with an apt eponymous quality. Feast is exactly what its namesake states, a feast. It is lavish and varied and full of heart and the only way to enjoy such a thing is to sit back and indulge in it fully.  


Review by Andy Currums, guest blogger. 




The 6th BFI Future Film Festival starts this time next week. With plenty of workshops, master-classes, screenings and networking opportunities, the festival is the ideal opportunity for young people aged 15 -25 to come and explore the inner workings of the film industry. Get immediate access to advice, from industry professionals, on how to develop your own path into this exciting but competitive sector.

If you are looking for that little bit extra, then maybe being able to pose your burning film-focussed questions to award-winning directors will satisfy your filmthirst. Amongst this year’s guest speakers are directors Sally El Hosaini (My Brother the Devil), Penny Woolcock (One Mile Away), Rob Savage (Strings), and Sam Fell (Paranorman). 


The British Film Institute’s ‘Future Film Festival’ is three days long, and each day focuses on a particular genre of the industry. This year it is fictional story telling, animation, and documentary.  Kicking off on Saturday the 16th of February, we have handpicked our personal highlights and must-sees on the first day of the festival:



Feel like you are probably the next Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen or Robert Benton? This workshop, hosted by training agency The Script Factor, will help you decide if your creative writing is fit for the director’s chair or the cutting room floor. Screenwriting is a fine art and a developed craft, this workshop will advise you on structuring your screenplay, the re-writing process, and how you actually go about putting pen to paper and getting your ideas on the page.

Like the sound of this session? You’ll love: The Writer’s Couch Pitching Experience, 2pm.


We all know that times are hard, and one of the groups hardest hit by credit-crunch bi-products, such as unemployment, are the 18 – 25 year olds amongst us. Now more than ever, it’s important to know what you want to and how to do it.  In this discussion with members of the organisation ‘Women in TV and Film’ put your quizzical skills to the test in an elimination process that will help you explore the weird and wonderful roles available in the film industry, and decide what would suit you.

Like the sound of this session? You’ll love: The Actor/Director Relationship with RADA, 4pm.


This film by Welsh-Egyptian director, Sally El Hosaini, follows Rashid, the boxer come drug runner, as he navigates his Hackney gangland. Rashid’s little brother Mo idolises him and tries to emulate his every move. The fast-paced life they live on the streets is balanced out by their home-life with their traditional Egyptian parents, a relative oasis of calm. The boys continue living this double life, until a pair of stolen trainers, a kiss, and a gang death disrupt the London-Egypt equilibrium. The best part about it? Pose your burning questions to the director straight after the screening.

Like the sound of this? You’ll love: Preview: E4 presents new drama, ‘Youngers,’ 2pm.


For more info click here.



Valentine’s Day on South Bank

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching and lots of exciting Valentine’s deals and date ideas appearing on our website, we asked our Twitter and Facebook followers to regale us with their tales of love, dates, break-ups and heartache on South Bank. Earlier this week we were browsing the responses and have decided to share the best and the worst with you!


The Best

Tatyana says: “The best first date I ever had was a concert at the Southbank Centre. That date later grew into the love of my life. I love South Bank.”

South Bank London says: “A cultured man, we like it!”


El says: “I had my best first date ever on South Bank. I was taken to the book maze at Royal Festival Hall during the Festival of the World. We wondered around the maze, eyeing each other over the top of the piles of books. We then settled down on a bean bag with a coffee and a croissant. He’s still the man of my dreams!”

South Bank London says: “Sounds very romantic, flirty eyes over the books. We’re pleased South Bank gave you a bond with the man you’ve always dreamed of.”


David says: “I have fond memories of the South Bank and miss visiting most weekends. I used to come down every other week to meet up with a very special girl. Sadly, that ended a while ago, but I’ll be back on Saturday night to introduce my new special girl to the fantastic South Bank, London.”

South Bank London says: “Wow, glad to hear South Bank is your date location of choice. Sorry that the previous relationship ended but we’re glad it hasn’t tainted South Bank for you – there are plenty more fish in the sea. Or would that be river in our case?”


Alexandra says: “South Bank has always been a special place for me and my Dad, who is a Londoner. We used to meet there, drink there, go to concerts there, always meeting on the 5th floor balcony of the Royal Festival Hall.  South Bank now holds a very special place in my heart. My husband proposed to me on the 5th floor balcony as he knew how much it meant to me. Amazingly romantic, in such a special place. It always makes me happy to go up there, admire the view, our beautiful river and our bustling & vibrant city.”

South Bank London says: “You definitely sound like you have a great connection with the South Bank. How thoughtful of your husband to propose to you in your special spot on the 5th floor. It’s a shame it’s too late for us to let you know Southbank Centre can also be used as a venue for weddings ;) “


The Worst

Harriet says: “I once had to endure a break up on the South Bank. Naturally, I was upset. My gasp-crying-gulping sobs were so loud on the bus ride home that the driver stopped on Waterloo bridge and came to check if I was OK. The fact he bothered to check on me has made me believe in the kindness of strangers again.”

South Bank London says: “Ouch! Sounds like you were put through the ringer. But we are glad the bus driver checked on you. And how nice to encounter a friendly bus driver in London!


Anonymous says: “I was taken on a first date on the South Bank once. I was convinced it had gone so well, but a few days later, when returning for drinks with friends, I saw the guy I went on the date with kissing another girl in front of the London Eye. The cheek!”

South Bank London says: “Oh dear, we think you’re better off without that one!”


Anonymous says: “A couple of years ago I was set up on a blind date on the South Bank. At first I thought the girl was OK, but an hour into our meal at one of the restaurants, all she had talked about was her cats and how she liked to dress them up in different Disney character costumes. At one point she went to the bathroom …….. and I ran out the door before she had the chance to come back. I feel bad leaving her with the bill but I had to get out of there.”

South Bank London says: “Hhhhmmm, we don’t condone the running away and leaving her to foot the bill, but it does sound like she might have been a nightmare.”


Now you’ve heard other people’s tales. Create your own with our hand pick list of the best dates, which can be found here: www.southbanklondon.com/valentines-day-on-south-bank  and for the best Valentine’s Day offers, head here: http://southbanklondon.com/competitions-and-offerswww.southbanklondon.com/valentines-day-on-south-bank  and for the best Valentine’s Day offers, head here: http://southbanklondon.com/competitions-and-offers


We Love Feedback

We love getting lovely feedback about South Bank on our Facebook, Twitter and Trip Advisor, and to our surprise, we recently came across more lovely feedback etched into the wall of the Park Plaza County Hall!






You can hire the Park Plaza County Hall for private parties and conferences, as well as 20 other venues in the area. Visit our South Bank Venues web page and have a browse, and don’t forget to contact us if you want to talk about your options!

Keep the comments coming… :)