Where exactly is it? Tucked away behind Waterloo station on Lower Marsh, eco aparthotel Stow Away is a historic market street that’s been trading since the mid-19th century. In fact, it unbelievably dates back to 1332, when it was named Lambeth Marsh.
The interior and vibes? Pivoting somewhere between hip boutique hotel and Airbnb, Stow Away is made up of 26 shipping containers, repurposed and built to be sustainable. The owners also claim to support the ecosystem of the area, from solar panels on the roof and special air conditioning units to timber cladding wall linings and no miniatures in the bathrooms (to minimise on single-use plastic). There’s also no concierge: you check in via two door codes emailed to you when the room is ready. Or simply download the app.
What was good about the rooms? First impressions were that they exude a sense of calm in busy Zone 1. Ours, on the top floor, enjoyed an appealing view over the street, as well as the railway lines and Millennium Wheel from the rear open-air stairway. While eco-friendly, there is, of course, a feel of luxury with ultra-comfortable Hypnos mattresses, marble tiles and Molton Brown toiletries. I also liked the herringbone flooring and useful pitch-black blinds (don’t miss the control by the A/C unit). Recycling bins are in situ, too: incidentally, all the waste from the hotel is recycled – plastic, glass and paper – working with the charity First Mile.
Anything on the snagging list? Each room is long and narrow, meaning if you’re a couple, it’s on the snug side, albeit in a very comfortable bed, with no space either side to get out (see pic, above). The other thing you need to be aware of are the railway tracks behind: the sound of the trains is a constant, which may or may not bother you. Bring ear plugs if you’re sensitive, or otherwise you’ll zone out after a while, anyway.
Can I eat on site? Well, there’s a wine bar with pop-up kitchen on the ground floor, called, naturally, Unwined. But don’t miss exploring Lower Marsh itself, one of London’s best pedestrianised thoroughfares, which hosts a daily market of up to fifty stalls, from bibimbap to souvlaki and dim sum, as well as antiques, records and plants. Wander and soak up the genuine atmosphere.
Any more Lower Marsh tips? Hell yeah. For the best South London-roasted Brazilian espresso, try pared-back Coleman Coffee Roasters (20 Lower Marsh); while the most characterful cafe-bar hangout, Scootercaffe (no. 132, pictured above), boasts eclectic interior, hidden garden and pavement bierkeller tables – a scooter in the window reminds you that it started out as a vintage motorcycle repair shop. We also loved the eccentric LGBTQ-friendly Vaulty Towers pub (no. 34), with its graffitied exterior, kitsch interior and general sense of camp; fantastic staff too, and an evening sun-trap.
What else? Head to its eastern end and cross over into The Cut. Observe the mighty Old Vic Theatre on your right, march past the chains and you’ll find the Young Vic, famous foodie pub the Anchor & Hope, and old-school tapas bar Meson Don Felipe, which has been there as long as I can remember. Although fully booked, we managed a couple of stools at the counter and shared simple plates of patatas bravas, pan con tomate, spinach with pine nuts, classic tortilla and meatballs. Great Albarino, too.
Breakfast? It’s an apart-hotel, so there’s decent cafetiere coffee, posh tea bags and long-life milk – but you’ll have to buy your own scran. There are supermarkets and stores everywhere so it’s dead easy.
Don’t miss: Why, the immense delights of London! Soho and the West End are less than half an hour’s stroll. Closer to the hotel, the brilliant murals of Leake Street Arches (pictured below) are a must, as well as the Georgian backstreets for a nightcap at the King’s Arms on Windmill Walk; or, if it’s sunny, a cocktail at the tropical gardens sprawling out from under-the-arches Jack’s Bar (pictured above).
And after you’ve mooched around the South Bank’s many museums, galleries and markets – as well as its iconic riverside open-air book stall – descend the steps onto the sandy beach for a valedictory low tide selfie.
Weekendr stayed as guests of Stow Away.
Main image: Stephen Emms