A Guide to Student Living in the Southbank

A Guide to Student Living in the Southbank

London’s Southbank - situated, as the name implies, on the southern side of the Thames - has long been renowned as one of the capital’s leading cultural hubs. With a seemingly endless choice of cool pubs and bars, quirky shops and all sorts of other attractions, the Southbank is a particularly exciting place to be for students living in London.

Stretching from Blackfriars Bridge in the east to Westminster Bridge in the west, the Southbank is near some of London’s main university campuses: namely King’s College London, University of Westminster and the London School of Economics, all of which are easily reachable either by public transport or on foot. Also close by is St Thomas’ Hospital, a leading teaching hospital affiliated with KCL.

At CBRE Residential, we have a range of Southbank student accommodation, as well as properties in nearby locations such as Soho, Covent Garden and Holborn. Some of our student rental properties in the area offer amazing views over the river, as well as other great features and amenities such as fitted wardrobes, spacious living areas, fully-equipped kitchens, and even gyms and saunas.

It’s difficult to top student living in the Southbank, especially if you’re a bit of a culture vulture. Not only do you have theatre, arthouse cinema and concerts large and small to choose from right on your doorstep, but you’re also within easy reach of some of London’s other culture and entertainment hotspots – including Westminster, the City and Northbank.


                                  Things to do in the Southbank:


Being one of London’s top cultural and nightlife destinations, there’s lots of interesting and fun stuff going on in the Southbank all year round. Whether you’re looking to take in a film, a play or a gig, or you’re looking for an awesome club night to enjoy, you’ll find plenty to enjoy. Here are some of the must-see venues in and around the Southbank area:

Southbank Centre:

Looming large on the Southbank is the famous and architecturally distinctive Southbank Centre. Comprised of three theatres – the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Hayward Gallery – the Southbank Centre regularly plays host to a huge array of shows, covering music, theatre, dance and more.


Southbank Centre Book Market:

Don’t forget to check out the Southbank Centre Book Market (it’s easy to miss!). You can find it open daily until 7pm on Queen’s Walk, just under Waterloo Bridge. Here you’ll find everything from contemporary titles to long-forgotten classics and comics, and much more besides. A must-see for bookworms.

BFI Southbank:

Just beside the Southbank Centre (though not part of it), you’ll find BFI Southbank. Not only are there four screens showing contemporary and classic films from around the world, but there’s lots of other stuff to explore here – including the BFI Reuben Library featuring a huge collection of books and other publications about film and TV, as well as bars and restaurants.

National Theatre:

Also adjacent to the Southbank Centre is the National Theatre, which hosts an eclectic programme ranging from Shakespeare productions and other classic dramas to contemporary works.

Globe Theatre:

For the Shakespeare fans among you, a visit to the Globe Theatre is absolutely essential. The modern-day Globe is a replica of the original theatre, designed to approximate the original theatre (built in 1599, destroyed by fire in 1613) and the rebuilt 1614 venue. It plays host to diverse interpretations of Shakespeare’s works, as well as an exhibit on the playwright’s life and work.


Tate Modern:

Close to the Globe at Bankside is the world-renowned Tate Modern, famous for its extensive collection of modern and contemporary art from a whole host of internationally-famous artists.


Bankside Gallery:

Next door to the Tate Modern is Bankside Gallery, an art gallery hosting a fascinating selection of contemporary watercolours and printed artworks.


Oxo Tower Wharf:

A Southbank landmark since the 1930s, the old Oxo building has more recently been redeveloped into Oxo Tower Wharf, which houses a wide variety of cafes, bars and restaurants as well as exhibition spaces featuring works from world-renowned artists.


Gabriel’s Wharf:

If you’re looking for a quirky retail experience, look no further than Southbank’s Gabriel’s Wharf. Here’s where you’ll find a tremendous selection of intriguing independent shops as well as big-name brand outets, and bars and restaurants, with impressive views over the river.

House of Vans:

A skate park, gig venue and cinema all rolled into one, House of Vans is a living embodiment of street culture.


Coin Street Community Centre:

One of the main social cultural hubs of the local community in Southbank is Coin Street Community Centre, which regularly hosts exhibitions, film screenings and interesting discussion among a host of other events.


Alternatively, if you fancy doing the tourist thing (a rite of passage for everyone who’s new to living in London) then the Southbank is also close to some of London’s top tourist attractions, including the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament.


Southbank student discounts

There are various concessions and discounts available to students and young people in the Southbank area, so it’s always worth keeping an eye out. Two offers you might find particularly useful are the BFI’s 25 & Under discount scheme and the Southbank Centre’s offers for under-30s. All enrolled full-time students in London are eligible for the 18+ Student Oyster card scheme, offering substantial savings on the cost of using public transport.


Southbank bars and pubs

The Southbank is also home to an outstanding variety of bars, pubs and restaurants – so it’s safe to say you’ll never be struggling to find places to socialise. Here’s a quick run-down of just a few of the best Southbank pubs and bars.

  • Spiritland: Located on the ground floor of the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, Spiritland offers a selection of sharing plates from around the world and plays host to guest DJs on Thursday to Saturday nights.
  • The Hop Locker: Also at the Southbank Centre is the Hop Locker, a seasonal pub open from May to September and renowned for its ever-changing selection of local, national and international beers.
  • Primo Bar: As well as sumptuous cocktails and free live music, the Southbank’s Primo Bar also provides a tasty range of sharing plates and bar food.
  • The Understudy: For the craft beer fans among you, The Understudy is sure to become your home away from home. Located in the National Theatre, it also provides a charming riverside vantage point looking over the Thames.
  • BFI Riverbank: Take in stunning views of the river and Waterloo Bridge at BFI Riverbank. There’s also a delicious menu on offer, including homemade pastas and stonebaked pizzas as well as ice cream for afters.



Transport links in the Southbank

Being in the heart of London, the Southbank enjoys excellent public transport links as you’d expect. It’s close to four major mainline railway stations – Waterloo, located on the Southbank itself, and three others all easily reachable by Underground: Charing Cross, Blackfriars and London Bridge.

There are also several Underground stations in the general vicinity of the Southbank – these include Waterloo, Blackfriars, Westminster, Embankment, Temple, Southwark and Lambeth North. From these you can reach London’s other mainline railway hubs – including Paddington, Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross – and catch services to destinations across the country and to the continent.

Bus services operate to and from various areas around the Southbank, connecting student accommodation in Southbank with various local university campuses and other associated facilities. You can find information about bus routes, timetables and fares via Transport for London.

Alternatively, there’s also the Thames Clipper boat service, which connects the Southbank to the City and Westminster, and Putney and Vauxhall. Boats run from London Eye Pier, Festival Pier and Bankside Pier.

This is just a brief sample of the attractions and amenities you’ll have on your doorstep as a student living in the Southbank.

There’s so much to see and do, all we can really do here is scratch the surface – once you’re there, you’ll soon see for yourself just what’s on offer in the area. Suffice to say, the Southbank really is one of the most exciting parts of a hugely exciting city, and it could be just the place for you if you’re planning on studying in the capital.