Your next must-see travel destination? London. East London! Get to know this vibrant neighborhood from the artists, bloggers, and influencers who call it home.
As the BLDG 25 London contributor I thought it was about time I gave you guys an FP Guide to my vibrant city! Whenever I travel abroad I mostly just love hanging out, drinking coffee, eating great food and pretending I am a local! So rather than sticking to what the tourist books suggest, I wanted to create a guide of cool places where local London gals spend their precious time. Living in the Hoxton area (and being married to a cockney!) I had to start with East London. I have lots of creative friends that live, work and play in the area, so roped them in to give you a wide selection of cool places to visit next time you touch down in London!
I live close to the canal, so love nothing better than going for walks by the river and stopping off along the way for coffee, food or cocktails in the many cute bars and cafes. Hop on at Angel and walk East from there for the best variety. If it’s a Sunday, I walk to Columbia Road Flower Market from here to pick up beautiful fresh flowers at great prices. The market and surrounding street are always buzzing and the sellers are hilarious, shouting out jokes to the crowds. One of the best pizzas I have ever eaten was just off Brick Lane at Story Deli on Bethnal Green Road. It is hidden behind a secret door, but once you eventually find it it’s well worth the search. My favourite food is Vietnamese, so Kingsland Road is where I head to for dinner with around 15 Vietnamese restaurants to choose from. For a girly pampering session I love Barbour & Parlour on Redchurch Street, a super cool and totally affordable beauty parlour with an East London twist. They serve great food and drinks, and also have a 50 seat cinema downstairs!
Read on for even more East London hot spots:
Frances Davidson, Photographer
Botany in Hackney, stuffed full of succulents and ferns, is a beautifully curated space in which to find terrariums, hanging planters and beautiful plant pots. It also serves as a great source of inspiration for ways to switch-up your greenery, full of copper watering cans, glass frames and rustic wood. Pond in Dalston offers a fine dining experience, which is quite rare in Dalston, serving up super fresh Hawaiian food that pulls off unusual combinations with ease. The cocktails are phenomenal, so a great spot for either drinks or a meal. Haggerston Park in Shoreditch is really underrated and perfect for summer picnics. It’s far less busy and noisy than other parks in East London and has a community orchard and food-growing garden. In Bethnal Green, the London Buddhist Centre offers a huge range of meditation and mindfulness classes every day of the week. It’s one of my favourite places, all the classes are free with a suggested donation of a few pounds for those who can afford it. Everyone at the centre is super welcoming and always happy to introduce newcomers to the practice of meditation.
Pandora Symes, Raw Food Chef
T and Shop on Green Lanes is such a quiet and calming little find, full of beautiful housewares, jams, delicious food and a lovely friendly owner. You’ll find me most mornings in la Bouche on Broadway Market, they make the best almond milk latte, plus it’s right near Stretch, my favourite studio to practice yoga and where I sell ROOTED from. For brunch it’s Mr. Buckleys on Hackney Road all the way! It’s a cool venue with a downstairs bar if lunch or brunch turns into afternoon cocktails, and great for dinner too! My favourite music venue is St. John Hackney. I went there for the first time recently to see an experiential techno duo called Kiasmos, the organ is high up behind you and the sound is magical.
Kate Brighouse, Designer
My boyfriend and I run a design and illustration studio, so we tend to head East a lot for gallery shows, gigs, great coffee and the best grilled cheese sandwich this side of the Atlantic. We do a lot of work for bands so we love places like The Old Blue Last, Oslo and Birthdays for awesome gigs. For exhibitions we love 71a and KK Outlet, their shows are always great for some creative inspiration. For great food head to The Towpath Cafe on the canal in Hackney – the best grilled cheese you will ever eat, and for an awesome baked egg brunch head to Leila’s in Shoreditch. If you’re still not full, head to Brick Lane and grab a salt bagel from Beigel Bake. When we’re doing craft fairs at the Truman Brewery we live on these bad boys. Spitalfields Market is a great place for food and craft fairs and twice a year they host the Independent Label Market where you can find some serious gems from all the best indie labels. For movie date nights The Hackney Picturehouse is one of the best cinemas in town and a great place to catch smaller indie films.
Nancy Taplin, Artist
I don’t think I’m alone in being excited that summer is here, especially because this is when East London really comes into its own. I love to wander along Regent’s Canal with my dog, hopping on and off the canal boat cafes and vintage shops – Word on the Water is a floating bookshop that I have a particular weakness for! On Sundays I’ll happily spend hours soaking up the atmosphere of Colombia Road Flower Market, always popping by Printers & Stationers, a tiny French-style café hidden away in an old workshop on Ezra Street. For chilled out evening drinking you can’t beat Netil360, a BYO bar on the rooftop of my old studio near London Fields. It boasts panoramic views of the city, making it a close second to heaven when the sun begins to set.
Naomi & Amy, Bloggers
Pizza East is our favourite place to indulge on pizza. The vibe is always buzzing, the decor is on point and the staff always go out of their way to make it a pleasant experience. When the sun is out in East London there is no better place than Victoria Park. It feels like you are out of the city and is simply bliss to sit around with friends with drinks and a picnic. Nude Expresso on Hanbury Street offers the best coffee in East with a really chilled out vibe, a great place if you want to catch up on emails with some caffeine. And Cafe 1001 off Brick Lane has great summer vibes after work if you want to sit around and have a coffee or a beer. The atmosphere is fun and friendly and they also sell a great selection of street food next door which is very tasty!
Fiona Downie, Stylist
I love Lardo on Richmond Road for their gluten free pizza. The Talbot on Mortimer Street is my local pub, great staff and they do a killer British Sunday roast. There’s a ton of Vietnamese places in Shoreditch, all along Kingsland Road, my favourite being Viet Grill for the best Pho in town. For shopping I head to Redchurch Street which is great for gifts, I love Labour and Wait for home wear and APC for clothes. If you’re into fitness check out Frame in New Inn Yard, they’re ballet barre class is super fun. Don’t forget to take a walk down Regent’s Canal and stop off at Broadway Market, then head down to the Palm Tree. It’s like a step back in time and has real cockney charm!
Nana Acheampong, Stylist
I love living in East London, especially on the weekends where everything I could want for is right at my doorstep. For Friday night drinks I head to the Ace Hotel, I swear they do the best espresso martinis. Or if I’m feeling a bit more low key The Well & Bucket pub on Bethnal Green Road is also great. Saturday mornings I head to Rebel 1 fitness studio for a ride session, it’s a really energetic cycle class usually to a hip-hop soundtrack and their tasty fresh juices after the class go down really well. Hoxton St Market is another favourite for a Saturday. They’ve got great food stalls as well as restaurants. The best jerk chicken I’ve ever tasted in London comes from the Jamaican food van and The Ginger Pig does amazing breakfasts. Sunday’s are all about roast dinners, my top 3 places in East London are The Cat & Mutton, Jones and Sons, and The Talbot.
Candice Bailey, Stylist
For shopping, I love Goodhood, an independent boutique in the heart of Shoreditch, as it offers the finest selection of womenswear, menswear, beauty products and housewares. The store’s buys are of an amazing quality and it has an impressive variety of brands — all in all making it virtually impossible to leave without buying something. For dinner head to The Richmond on Queensbridge Road, this restaurant (masters at seafood and cocktails!) is the ultimate in lux dining. The Royal Oak on Columbia Road is a great relaxed pub to hang out in any night of the week. If you’re lucky enough to get a seat inside on a Sunday afternoon, you can watch the hustle and bustle from the flower market whilst you devour one of their amazing roast dinners. I don’t really go to clubs and my nights out generally consist of going to bars and small music spots. Bardens Boudoir is a great little bar in Dalston that offers the perfect mix of good music and a relaxed but super fun atmosphere… and the old fashions are pretty amazing too!
+ Have you visited East London? Please share your recommendations in the comments!
This post comes from our UK PR Manager Lisa! Follow along with her on Instagram @freepeopleuk