Many moons ago, the East End was one of London’s poorest areas, but its recent gentrification has turned it into one of the coolest parts of town. Derelict warehouses have become interior-cool, food-fine restaurants and bars, abandoned loft spaces urban pads for city slickers, run down shops transformed into buzzing art galleries and off-beat boutiques and the area’s markets have become go-to havens of hip. With reason galore to head east, here are our favourties...
1. Get your foodie fix
The foodie hotspot of Shoreditch has no shortage of restaurants to rival its citywide counterparts, and has some new faces to add to the menu this year. The quirky and kitsch award-winning Dishoom, based on the traditional Irani cafes in Bombay, is the place for breakfast or brunch with a twist, especially if you like your mornings spicy. Back in 5 Minutes, hidden behind a clothes shop on Brick Lane, is a small restaurant serving simple and unfussy food or, for a five-course feast, book a table at The Clove Club in Shoreditch Town Hall.
The Clove Club
If noodles are more your style, Tonkotsu East in Haggerston serves delicious and warming ramen-noodle filled soup, or for some of the finest tapas in town, with an Italian twist and wine to match, head to the Polpo Smithfields in Farringdon. For seasonal British tapas the very newly opened Poco Tapas on Broadway Market from Tom Hunt, author of The Natural Cook is a newcomer not to be missed.
2. Drink the night away
London’s hipsters flock to the bars of Hoxton, Shoreditch and Brick Lane every night of the week, and the area’s dark alleys and underground spaces are home to some of the city’s best drinking spots. Expect unique cocktails, artisanal craft beers and quirky offbeat destinations aplenty. White Lyan in Hoxton is certainly unique, it doesn’t serve ice, branded drinks or use sugar, fruit or citrus in their drinks, and only serves one wine of each colour and one beer and pre-made cocktails, but nevertheless the menu is innovative and rather delicious. For the more conventional, there are some classic bars such as Boundary Rooftop in the Boundary Hotel and the Square Bar and Library Bar in the member’s only Shoreditch House.
Pop-up cocktail success Night Tales has recently opened a permanent fixture, NTs in London Fields which promises to be a fab late night haunt, while Super Tuscan, a friendly Italian wine bar near Spitalfields Market, makes a great wine-infused shopping pit stop. No trip to East London would be complete without a craft beer, and The Craft Beer Co. on Leather Lane in Clerkenwell is hard to beaten, serving 37 draft beers and 300 bottles.
The Craft Beer Co.
Related: 5 of the best supper clubs in London
3. Shop the East End way
London’s arty types have taken up residence in the city’s East End and so the area is a pull for emerging designers and magnet for uber cool concept stores catering to both men and women. Celestine Eleven is a gorgeous example, stocking many young contemporary fashion designers as well as quirky furniture, accessories and cult beauty and books.
The Goodhood Store is also worth a browse for its eclectic and unique mix of fashion, lifestyle and beauty. Hip Hackney boutique 69b focuses on sustainable fashion or for the ultimate in cutting-edge contemporary luxury fashion, book an appointment at LN-CC. Redchurch Street in Shoreditch is a shopping destination in itself, home to independent and vintage stores as well as brands including Sunspel, APC, Club Monaco, Hostem and soon to open Versus, J.Crew, British tailor Timothy Everet and The Modern Society.
The Goodhood Store
East London is also synonymous with bustling markets, but today there is far more to the traditional street vending antic than buying just half a pound of fruit or veg: bursting with vintage treasures, rural organic cured meats and cheese and bespoke home interiors.
For example, London’s oldest market, Spitalfields is now a tardis of trendiness. For cutting-edge arts, craft and design head to Brick Lane Market which as well as being one of London’s largest flea markets and top street food finds, is now part of Trumans Markets Community, encompassing the Backyard Market, Sunday Up Market and Vintage Market. For flowers, Columbia Road Market on a Sunday is not to be missed.
Columbia Road Flower Market