I’ve spent the majority of my time in London in Shoreditch, living, working or just hanging. You can get all of my restaurant reccos here, but there’s much more to do so I encourage you to venture to this part of East London to get a taste of a more vibrant and grimy side of the city.
Columbia Road Flower Market: Every Sunday this tiny street comes alive and hoards of people clamour about to get great deals on flowers and plants. There is often live music and it’s an interesting place to grab a coffee or a pint.
Street Art Walking Tour: Bansky, Ben Eine, Stiks, Thierry Noir…know who they are? Then see their work with a free walking tour. Don’t know who they are? Then discover their work with a free walking tour. Just Google it to find the tour you want. There is so much gorgeous street art in Shoreditch to Instagram.
If you like what you see on the walking tour chances are Jealous Gallery sells original artworks and prints from some of the artists, so check them out.
The Geffrye Museum of the home is an adorable little museum that recounts how people used to live in London from 1600 to present day. Surprisingly interesting and free I believe.
Imarni nails in the Box Park is where it’s at for cool manis and complicated nail designs. Imarni does FKA Twiggs and Lily Allen’s nails so you know she’s legit. Grab a drink on top – it’s where all the cool millennials hang out (and where I feel very out of place). Cheeky, right down the street, is the place to go for pedis.
Zen out at Cowshed spa for a quality massage or a fancy pedi with a scalp massage!
And who cares about your nails when you’re naked (amirite?) so if you’re visiting London but craving a sweat sesh, you’d be hard pressed to find a better place than Frame. They have amazing instructors and tons of great classes to choose from. You can also get your spin on (or really good yoga and barre) at Pcycle. Blok, Barry’s Bootcamp and KO Box are other options not too far away.
Head to Cream for a post sweat-sesh coffee and lunch.
Sager and Wild, near the Flower Market, has excellent organic wines and cheese toasties.
Ace hotel for coffee during the day or drinks at night. Head to the roof for the views if it’s open. If not, rooftop drinks at The Boundary on Redchurch is a good alternative.
Check out Nightjar speakeasy for cocktails or Happiness Forgets. Read this list for more bar options.
Day drinking at Shoreditch Grind is always a good idea.
SHOP TIL YOU DROP on Redchurch street. Ok actually Redchurch is super tiny but they have a Sunspel (cottons), a Sweaty Betty (workout gear), Club Monaco, Aesop & J Crew. Grab a coffee at All Press and bring me back some beans, please!
MORE COFFEE: Ace Hotel, Hoxton Hotel, Fix 126, Hackney Coffee Company on Hackney Road, Brooklyn Coffee near Spitafields. You can find good coffee at almost every street corner, literally.
You can also walk up Shoreditch High Street and pop into the hidden Nike Lab, Sneakers and Stuff, Aida or House of Hackney – an interiors store that make their own original fabrics.
Or walk down Hackney Road to get a cool planter after hitting up the Columbia Road flower market at Grace and Thorne.
MARKETS & PARK
Broadway market on Saturdays is where it’s at for food and people watching. Pick up some food and walk along the canal to eat in Victoria Park if you’re craving some greenery. It’s about 10 minutes by foot but much, much, much, nicer than London Fields, the park at the end of Broadway Market.
On Sundays Brick Lane is packed with weirdos and youngins looking for vintage clothes and international food stalls. Keep walking down Brick Lane and head towards Old Spitafields market to round out a quintessential East London day.
I don’t have anything against the polished and posh west side, but east London has a grit that is both annoying and inspiring. I have to say that I loved living in The Ditch and have a special place in my heart for Hackney.