27 November 2020/ Area guides

Office leasing guide: Southbank, London

Offices to rent in Southbank

Central London’s south riverbank is home to plenty of the capital’s most exciting centres of culture, history and arts. As a result, Southbank is a great place for businesses, particularly those in the creative industries, to be based. Giants of TV and film can be found occupying space here, including ITV at The London Studios and BFI Southbank.

Southbank is perhaps best known for its iconic theatre and arts residents, including the National Theatre, the Old Vic and Young Vic and the Hayward Gallery. Millions of visitors stream in and out of Waterloo Station every single year, making it the busiest rail station in the UK by visitor numbers. Other tourist-focused attractions, including the Sea Life London Aquarium and London Dungeon, can also be found here.

Though it’s a relatively small area, there’s plenty going on in Southbank. Many of its iconic sites first emerged during the 1951 Festival of Britain, when the area’s name evolved from Lambeth Marsh to Southbank. For centuries, the area was often waterlogged during colder months, meaning it was developed decades after sites on the north banks of the Thames.

But since it rose to prominence in the ‘50s, this area has remained an exciting place to live, work and visit. Want to find out more about what Southbank has to offer? Here’s our guide to renting an office in Southbank.

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Notable business areas in Southbank

The area around the London Eye and Royal Festival Hall is heavily geared towards the bustling tourist scene. Around 3.5 million people visit the Eye every year, so it’s an area that enjoys heavy footfall from visitors and locals alike. If your business is public-facing or you’re looking for a prestigious central location, this could be the ideal area for you.

Head east along the river and you’ll reach the area where Southbank’s galleries and main theatres are located. It’s also home to King’s College London’s Waterloo campus, giving you an excellent pool of talent to pick from when it comes to interns and new hires. This is an excellent place to base yourself if you’re looking for somewhere with a cool, artistic vibe, or you’re in the media or arts sectors.

In the heart of this area is Waterloo Station. This bustling transport interchange brings millions of people to and from Southbank every day, meaning it’s a prime location to be based if you’re looking for excellent transport links. From here, you can reach other central areas like the City in less than 10 minutes, so you can hop to client meetings or events with ease.

Travelling in and around Southbank

There are three underground stations in Southbank

You’ll find Southwark, Lambeth North and the bustling Waterloo in the centre. It’s the UK’s busiest station, recording 94.2 million entries and exits during 2019, and is on the Bakerloo, Jubilee, Northern and Waterloo & City lines. Lambeth North, which is to the south, is served by the Bakerloo line, while Southwark is on the Jubilee.

You can also catch rail services from Waterloo Station

This grand station is a major transport interchange, with services running all across the south west of the country to and from here. If you need to grab any last-minute supplies or snacks, you’ll find shops including Lush, Boots, Burger King and Wasabi inside the station.

Plenty of bus services operate in Southbank

Four night buses and 17 daytime services operate in the Southbank area. As a result, it’s easy to navigate central and south London from here, no matter where business or pleasure takes you. You can also catch coach services to other UK cities and across London from just outside the water-facing side of Waterloo Station.

You can travel by water in Southbank

If you’re looking for a way to beat the traffic and crowds, hop on a boat instead. There are two piers in the area: Festival Pier, just outside the Southbank Centre, and London Eye Waterloo. You can use your Oyster card to travel on water bound services, which could certainly make the morning commute a bit more scenic.

Three airports are within an hour of Southbank

If you’re heading off on a long-haul flight, Heathrow Airport is probably your best option. It’s around an hour’s drive or train journey from Southbank, and you can fly to hundreds of destinations from this busy airport. Alternatively, Gatwick Airport is just 40 minutes’ train journey south and offers an equally wide selection of destinations to jet off to. London City Airport is also less than 40 minutes away, and it’s a convenient option for shorter journeys.

Offices to let in Southbank

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There are plenty of business amenities in Southbank

Southbank has a range of hotels for business travellers

Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly place to rest your head or an opulent venue to host an event for special guests, there are plenty of options in Southbank. If you’re seeking the latter, you’ll be spoilt for choice. The grand Bankside by Autograph has modern chic rooms and striking architecture, making it an impressive choice for events and stays.

Similarly, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London offers picture-perfect views and chic spaces to relax and network in. But if you’re looking for something a little different, Sea Containers London, a five-star hotel that’s been designed in the style of a 1920 cruise liner, is bursting with character and luxe.

Looking for something functional? Big brands like Premier Inn, Travelodge and Holiday Inn can also be found, alongside affordable independent hotels just a short hop from this area’s main sights.

There are lots of choices if you’re looking for a restaurant in Southbank

If you’re hosting guests from out of town, the OXO Tower Restaurant is bound to impress. Enjoy delicious food paired with one of more than 800 wines as you take in the expansive views. Another must-visit (if your budget can stretch) is Rules, which has served classic British dishes since 1798.

You could also indulge in fine Italian dining at La Barca Ristorante or visit House at the National Theatre, which offers fantastic food and excellent evening entertainment. For something a little more laidback, head to Natural Kitchen for plant-focused dishes, Banh Bao Brothers for excellent Vietnamese cuisine or Turkish EV Restaurant.

Southbank has lots of handy meeting spaces

Whether you need a space for meetings, brainstorms or events, you’ll find just what you need in Southbank. SocietyM Bankside’s rooms have plenty of character – there’s even one with disco balls hanging from the ceiling to get those creative juices flowing. Alternatively, Workspace’s Cargo Works and The Print Rooms are slick, modern options if you need professional space. And if you’re looking for something larger, Metal Box Factory (previously known as Great Guildford Street Business Square) can accommodate larger numbers.

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There’s a range of other facilities for businesses to use in Southbank

Southbank is home to plenty of places to keep fit. You can keep the costs down by opting for places like PureGym, The Gym and Fitness4Less, which all have branches in the area. But if you’re looking for something specialist or upmarket, you’ll find luxe gyms including The Foundry and King’s Sport at the KCL campus.

While Southbank isn’t a key retail destination, there are plenty of handy shops in and around Waterloo station. You’ll find fashion brands like Oliver Bonas, FatFace and Joules, as well as beauty shops like Boots and Lush, stationery stores like Scribbler and more. Whether you’re travelling through or just fancy a spot of lunchtime retail therapy, it’s an excellent place to visit.

Offices, serviced offices and co-working spaces in Southbank

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Notable office tenants in Southbank

  • IBM
  • Objective Media Group
  • ICG Medical Staffing

Key agents

  • Union Street Partners
  • Kalmars
  • Field & Sons Commercial
  • Colliers International
  • Cushman & Wakefield

Interesting facts about Southbank

You’ll find the country’s largest cinema screen in Southbank. It’s located within the BFI Imax on the massive roundabout next to Waterloo Station and measures a whopping 520 metres squared.

The London Eye was once the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, but it has since dropped to fourth place. However, it’s still the most popular paid tourist attraction in the country.

There was once a trainline that extended from Waterloo solely to move bodies outside the city. The London Necropolis Railway was mostly destroyed during WW2, though you can rent office space in the surviving station.

It’s reported that, during a visit to the iconic Old Vic theatre, the Queen Mother requested a private room. But due to a lack of space, staff had to get creative and transform a stairwell landing into a royal powder room.