London neighbourhood guide: Clapham

So, you’re considering living in leafy, sociable and family-friendly Clapham? Flatshares in Clapham and spare rooms to let in the area are among the most popular on our site – no wonder, considering the southwest London destination offers plenty of local cafes, pubs, shops and bars, as well as classic Victorian architecture. Not to mention that famous Common…

Find the newest rooms available in Clapham here

A brief history lesson:

The present-day bustling Clapham High Street was once a Roman military road that ran from London to Chichester. Clapham began life as a Saxon village called ‘Clopp Ham,’ meaning the village by the short hill. After a period of growth and an abundance of new settlers in the 17th century, by the late 18th century Clapham had established itself as a desirable place for the wealthy to live since it combined a more rural setting with London’s convenient amenities. The area suffered devastating bombing during WWII and three air raid shelters (at Clapham North, Clapham Common and Clapham South tubes) still exist.

St johns hill city guide

Who lives there now:

Recent graduates, young professionals and families all call Clapham home thanks to a lively restaurant and bar scene, easy transport links and all of that gorgeous green space. The expression ‘the man on the Clapham omnibus’ – coined in a legal case in the 1930s to describe ‘the ordinary man on the street,’ is still apt to describe this neighbourhood enjoyed by lots of different people. The easygoing attitude remains, although the neighbourhood has become more dynamic in recent years with a spate of new eateries and bars, as well as a vibrant gay scene.

Places to eat, drink and be merry:

Venn Street is a popular destination with a weekly food market on Saturdays and French, Spanish and Lebanese eateries lining the block. Venn Street Records is the young person’s go-to for drinks, food and live music, while around the corner next to Clapham Common tube station, a former public toilet has been turned into the charmingly named WC, a subterranean wine bar with outside drinking terrace.


Over on Clapham Manor Street, The Craft Beer Company is a pub that hand-crafted pale ale, weissbier and bitter aficionados will enjoy checking out, with around 30 varieties on tap (and countless more available bottled). And don’t forget Tsunami for the tastiest sushi around – they also deliver.

Abbeville Road is known for its village-y feel and is a popular dining destination, with hotspots including French bistro La Bonne Heure, Abbeville Kitchen and Bistro Union for British classics. Head to Abbeville Road on Sunday mornings to stock up on fresh produce at the weekly market.

Further south, Northcote Road is dotted with boutiques, cafes and bars, and is worth a trip for the baked goods alone – Gail’s Artisan Bakery goodies like almond and chocolate croissants and pecan cinnamon crumb cake are worth every penny (and calorie), while food stall The Breadstall serves up Monmouth Coffee and Brick Lane bagels at the weekends. For a delicious meal, try the chorizo folded eggs at Brew and The Bolingbroke for a cosy pub atmosphere with great food.

Patisserie and sandwich shop on The Pavement, Clapham, London

 Shopping and culture:

From Sainsbury’s to Snappy Snaps, Clapham High Street has all of your basics covered. Clapham Old Town has more of a village ambience, with a local butcher’s and small boutiques like gift shops Oliver Bonas and Sass & Belle. Venn Street is home to the popular Clapham Picturehouse, which shows all of the latest blockbusters as well as independent fare.

Clapham Debenhams

Hit Abbeville Road to stock up on terrines and chutneys at The Ginger Pig and wines at independent shop, Bottle Apostle. DIY store Treohans will kit out your home to perfection.

At Clapham Junction, you’ll find many of your high street favourites for clothing and more, including department stores like Debenhams and TK Maxx as well as Argos, The Body Shop, JD Sports and M&S.

Northcote Road has a selection of high-end high street retailers, including Whistles, Jigsaw, Cath Kidston and L.K. Bennett, as well as independent designer boutiques like Question Air and Iris. For pampering and gifts, look no further than Kiehl’s, Neil’s Yard or The Hive Honey Shop, which offers homeopathic remedies, candles, cosmetics, gourmet honey and beekeeping advice.

Parks and recreation:

Clapham Common offers 220 acres of green space in the middle of London, complete with tennis courts, football and cricket pitches, playgrounds, ponds and a paddling pool. One of London’s largest open spaces, it plays host to summer festivals like Get Loaded in the Park and South West Four as well as events like the Moscow State Circus, frequent funfairs and a November fireworks display.

Summer evening sunshine on Clapham Common Northside, Clapham, London, UK

 Transport links:

The area is known for its good transport links, with the Northern Line servicing three underground stations (Clapham North, Clapham Common and Clapham South). There are two overground lines (Clapham Junction and Clapham High Street) and buses to take you all over London (87 to Aldwych, 37 to Putney or Peckham, 345 to South Kensington, 88 to Camden Town), 137 to Oxford Circus, 35 to Shoreditch, etc). The cycle superhighway alongside Clapham Common can get you to Westminster in about half an hour. 

Cyclists cycling past the bandstand at sunrise, Clapham Common, London UK

Fun fact:

Rebel designer Dame Vivienne Westwood has famously called Clapham her home for decades.

Renting in Clapham:

Since the neighbourhood has become so sought-after in recent years, rental prices have risen accordingly but it is still affordable. You can check out our newest rooms available here

Any downsides? 

Clapham is split between two London boroughs, Lambeth (Clapham North and Clapham Common) and Wandsworth (Clapham South and Clapham Junction) – Lambeth council tax is substantially steeper, with bands starting from roughly £800 and going up to almost £2,500 (Wandsworth council tax for 2014/15 ranged from just under £500 to just under £1,500).

Another potential downside? If you’re a ‘between the commons’ resident living between Clapham South and Clapham Junction stations, you’re likely looking at a 15-minute walk to the tube or train each morning.

Photo credit @Alamy

Don’t miss this video of Jacob explaining why it’s important to find the right flatmates when moving to a new city.

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