The first mention of Nine Elms can be found as far back as AD 47, when a Roman Settlement was named in the grounds of Lambeth Palace. Originally named after the nine elm trees that lined the main road and the farm that followed, the area has been transformed from a desolate waste ground into one of London’s (and indeed the country’s) most exciting regeneration areas.
What’s In A Name?
A historically wet and marsh-like area, it has been drained several times throughout the years to make way for new and improving settlements. Perhaps one of the more interesting developments in Nine Elms took place in the post-Medieval period when in 1660 the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens were erected and became one of the most important leisure and entertainment complexes in the capital. A huge assortment of acts performed at the gardens including jugglers, monkeys, dogs, ventriloquists, clowns, dancing horses and fire walkers. Visited by royalty, the poet Shelley and many more, the gardens underwent significant refurbishment until 1859 when interest declined and they were eventually closed. This was due in part to the arrival of a major rail route through the area, offering significant links between North and South London.
First opened in 1838, Nine Elms Station was the first major point between London and the South Western Railway. Thames steamboats offered the remaining links from Nine Elms to Vauxhall and London Bridge and after the building of Westminster and Vauxhall Bridge, rapid infrastructure arrived in the area. The rail terminus at Nine Elms was eventually closed in 1948 and demolished after sustaining damage during World War II. Battersea Power Station (1955) and New Covent Garden Flower Market (1974) brought attention back to the area and it has since gone from strength to strength, helped in part by the development of the Power Station, the US Embassy being constructed in Embassy Gardens and key companies such as Apple, DK Publishing and Penguin Books all planning on relocating their head offices to the area.
The recent planting of two more elm trees means there are finally now nine elms lining the riverside. The elms that were there previously struggled with Dutch Elm Rot that arrived in 1970 which blighted the trees that stood prior.
If you’re new to Nine Elms, or you’ve passed it on the train and wondered about it then read on for the complete guide to living, eating and enjoying SW8.
Food and Drink
Despite Nine Elms being a new and developing area, it’s not short of amazing food and drink options. Whether you’re popping out for a quick morning coffee and breakfast to go, mid-week dining or weekend brunching, there’s a place for you. Check out our catalogue of restaurants below and let us know if we’ve missed any off or if you try any of our recommendations!
Rise and Shine
Ah coffee, it’s the thing we reach for on a sleepy Monday, the caffeinated nectar that boosts us mid-week and the silky shot that goes into our Friday night espresso martini. Don’t fear, if you love all things coffee-themed then you’ll enjoy the range of new and exclusive roasting houses that are dotted around the development.
Australians know a lot about café culture – brunches, freshly roasted beans and a general sense of well-being all add up to a pretty great cup of coffee. District Coffee only have two London locations, one in Embassy Gardens and one in Parsons Green, cementing them as a small business that doesn’t skimp on quality. A huge variety of antipodean favourites are on offer, from smashed avocado on toast, Acai bowls, banana bread and smoothies, to seasonal soups, truffle croissants and green eggs. Obviously the star of the show is their delicious coffee selection in a variety of sizes and types and their alternative drinks including Turmeric, Chai and Matcha Lattes and kombucha, coconut water and a variety of teas.
Black Cab Coffee
A stylish choice for coffee, Black Cab Coffee started out of a black cab in Brick Lane in 2013 where they still work to this day. Their aim was to add theatre to the art of coffee making, offering first-class grinder technology, a Lever Pull Pompeii espresso machine and cakes and cocktails.
Now with five cabs and more permanent residences, they are expanding across the Capital. They definitely have a unique selection of coffee including BonBon espresso with condensed milk, Orange and Grapefruit Iced Coffee, Café Vienna, Honey Lattes and Al-Qahwa which is a mix of coffee, cloves, saffron and served with Medjool dates that serves 4 people. Of course, you can get the usual favourites of Cappuccino and Espresso and if you go when the sun goes down you will be greeted by a fantastic selection of cocktails.
Sandwiches, Shakshuka, sourdough toast and pancakes are some of the food options available, alongside smoothies and shakes to grab and go.
The Coffee Works Project
Located in Circus West Village by Battersea Power Station, The CoffeeWorks project has three locations across London (Angel, Blackfriars and Battersea) and was voted as one of London’s Top 20 Coffee Shops by the London Coffee Guide, establishing itself as one of the Capital’s most progressive speciality coffee houses. A family-run business, they don’t skimp on quality, with every batch of coffee hand-checked in their East London roastery before it is delivered to one of their sites.
Dinner is Served…
Lunch and dinner options are plentiful in Nine Elms. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite at lunchtime, or a leisurely post-Boomcycle meal with friends, you can find it in SW8.
Wright Brothers have five restaurants across London, with their Battersea branch located in the vibrant Circus West Village. Specialising in oysters from across the British Isles, France and beyond, they draw on their own wholesale business in Billingsgate Market and Brixham Market. Alongside oysters, they offer seafood platters, seasonal fish and oyster and seafood masterclasses. From 3-6pm every day you can enjoy the freshest oysters for just £1 each, so if you’re new to this fishy delicacy you can try without having to commit to a meal.
Translating as ‘river’ in Italian, this Thameside delight is headed up by Francesco Mazzei who triumphed at Mayfair’s Sartoria. A full range of delicious antipasti, Romana style pizza and classic pasta dishes await you alongside an Italian take on the classic British Roast. Visit at the weekend for a European brunch menu including bruschetta with smoked salmon, poached or scrambled eggs on toast and an Italian style full English. Add bottomless prosecco for only £20 per person and make a day of it.
Primarily a wine merchant, Vagabond have spread across London from their initial shop in Fulham to bring fantastic wines to everyone and anyone. Taking the pressure out of traditional wine lists, their concept is simple: load credit onto the store card you get on arrival and try any wine you wish from the taps around the bar. All of their staff are wine experts, meaning if you like a particular wine and want to explore similar tasting notes, you can get their advice on what to try next.
Alongside the delicious wines, you can grab a selection of the best side dishes and platters to accompany your evening. A selection of tapas-style small plates is highly recommended and perfect for groups, or explore their Steak Sharer for two people, cheese board and nibbles.
The Nine Elms Tavern
Handmade sourdough pizzas, Sunday roasts and classic British pub classics such as fish and chips, steak and ale pie and sausage and mash are on the menu at this modern take on a British pub. Using seasonal ingredients, the Nine Elms Tavern is open for lunch and dinner and provide reasonably-priced delicious food for any occasion. Their wide selection of platters include everything from a Fisherman’s Board with whitebait, prawn croquettes and fishcakes, to charcuterie with a wide selection of smoked and cured meats and a whole baked garlic and rosemary Camembert with sourdough bread. Save room for pudding where you can thoroughly indulge with a Nutella Calzone or Chocolate Brownie with Jude’s Ice Cream.
The No.29 Power Station West
Open from morning coffee right through to a nightcap, No. 29 belongs to the independent group Darwin & Wallace, who are behind restaurants such as No.197 Chiswick Fire Station, No.11 Pimlico Road, No.1 Duke street and more. Offering artisan food, unique interiors and a variety of drinks, the menu is inspired by local and global settings and locally sourced ingredients.
This is not your usual pub grub – expect to see kimchi fried rice, wonky aubergine and coconut curry, grilled sea bass and chips, halloumi and crushed avocado burger and more on the menu. Their extensive breakfast menu is served until 11:30 am with excellent weekend brunch additions and cocktails to see you through until your Sunday roast. An impressive vegan menu means everyone in your party is catered for, so grab your group and take a stroll down to the river.
Nine Elms has a surprisingly good selection of transport links for such a new area. The Northern Line is being extended with the first train due in 2021 offering two new Underground tube stations at Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station.
A short walk along the river takes you to Vauxhall Underground and National Rail Station (Zone 1/2) where you can be at Waterloo in only four minutes, Clapham Junction in five and Victoria in just three. You can also head further afield with South Western Trains to Guilford, Weybridge, Windsor and Hampton Court or change at Clapham Junction for services to Gatwick Airport and South East London.
For a scenic stroll, head down towards Battersea Park and across the bridge to head into Sloane Square, Victoria and Pimlico.
Also located at Battersea Power Station is a Thames Clipper Riverboat Pier. These air conditioned boats travel up and down the Thames every 20 minutes, meaning if you work anywhere along the river you can enjoy a scenic and more relaxing start to your day. All the boats have a licensed bar on board that also serves pastries and coffee, perfect for breakfast on the go.
Shopping and Other Amenities
Most of the shopping around Nine Elms takes place at the developing Battersea Power Station. At the moment the catalogue of shops is relatively small, however that doesn’t mean you are devoid of shopping options.
The Battersea General Store
The Battersea General Store has a definite ‘Wholefoods’ or ‘Planet Organic’ vibe to it. Think gorgeous green and white tiles, organic produced and locally sourced meats and cheeses, fruit and veg and everything in between.
Their deli serves coffee and snacks to go, that you can munch whilst reading the latest copy of your favourite magazine or newspaper. The staff that work there are incredibly friendly and helpful, making your Monday night grocery shop a whole lot more enjoyable.
Love keeping fit? You’ll love Boomcycle which certainly lives up to its tagline ‘it’s a party on a bike’. Head into the dark and mysterious studio and be transported into a club-like setting with loud music, lighting that moves with the tracks and a variety of high-energy instructors, who, for the duration of your session will not let you think about anything other than what is happening in front of you. This welcome break from reality lets you forget about the daily stresses of life and focus on being present in the moment. This is more than just a spin class at your local gym – this is a high intensity, fun, interactive and enjoyable 45-minute experience that will make you leave with a huge smile on your face.
A few times a year Boomcycle run their very popular ‘Boom and Brunch’ events where you can take part in their signature class followed by a hearty brunch at Fiume and a skincare gift from REN. Keep up to date with everything that Boomcycle has to offer by signing up to their mailing list.
Reasonably-priced gym chain The Gym is opening in Battersea in October. Open 24/7 these are the perfect gyms if you like to go in, do your thing and come out, mainly due in part to the pin entry system and the sheer amount of members. Check their website to see when it officially opens and be one of the first members to sign up and get a great discount.
Of course if you want to live and gym without having to move very far, then the Embassy Gardens development has a gym and fitness centre to rival most of the high-end gyms across London. Not only do residents have access to personal trainers, fitness classes and gym equipment, they’ll also be able to swim in the one-off see-through Sky Pool suspended between two of the buildings.
There’s nothing better than getting some green space, and what better way to access it than at Battersea Park, a 200-acre park that hosts free fitness classes, scenic walks and Battersea Park Children’s Zoo. This magical zoo is the perfect place for curious little explorers to learn about exotic animals such as Grey Parrots, Capuchin Monkeys, Red-Necked Wallabies, insects and more domesticated pets such as guinea pigs and chickens. There’s also a large play area with a wooden fort, fire engine, helicopter and life-sized tractor.
How We Can Help
If you’re considering moving to Nine Elms, have a look at the properties we have on offer in the stunning Battersea Power Station development.
Intrigued by a journey on the Thames Clipper? We’ve got the best attractions and areas to see using only the water.
If you have any questions about life in Embassy Gardens, or any of our development locations, please do get in touch!