Things to do in Shoreditch

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By rights Shoreditch should be over, its flame burnt out. In its late-Nineties-early-Noughties heyday it essentially invented a new sort of London, reimagining an infamous part of the city as a kind of live/work creative playground, a place of grit and glitter with its own studiedly urban glamour. For the generation who flocked to it back then, Shoreditch – and Hoxton, its west end – was a place of warehouse parties, private views, pubs that spilled chaotically on to the street.

It’s a different place these days — smarter, slicker, much more monied — but it’s still got that indefinable magic; it’s still somehow, cool. It’s no longer about drinking warm white wine out of plastic cups at a gallery – now Shoreditch drinking is all about supremely brilliant cocktails at some of London’s best bars – some of the world’s best bars, in fact. The pubs are excellent – authentic East End boozers with world-class drinks menus. And some of London’s best restaurants, too – more inventive and creative than many of their central London counterparts, often in interesting, re-purposed venues.

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    Explore the local art scene

    Shoreditch was the playground of the Great Brit Artists of the Nineties. Jay Jopling’s neighbourhood-defining White Cube may have decamped to Bermondsey, but the East End remains home to some of the best London exhibitions, galleries, contemporary artists and makers essential to the capital’s creative spirit. Two of the most interesting galleries are conveniently next door to each on Wharf Road: the always interesting foundation, Parasol Unit, so vital in breaking emerging talent; and Victoria Miro with its roster of stars including Elmgreen & Dragset and Chris Ofili.

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    Pick up some flowers on Sunday

    Sunday is the big shopping day in the Shoreditch hinterlands. Columbia Road (pictured) hosts one of the best markets in London, the charming flower market, every Sunday (8am until 3pm) between the artsy independent stores. Weekends also see the best of the vintage shops on the side streets off Brick Lane; duck through doorways for hidden markets selling pile-em-up Seventies and Eighties gear, or seek out the classier interiors and vintage boutiques on Cheshire Street. During the week, Shoreditch itself has a handful of destination stores including mid-century-modern shopping mall SCP, smartly sourced fashion hub Goodhood, and the not-to-be-missed House of Hackney, where they create everything from sofas to shirts using their sensational maximalist prints.

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    Take coffee and breakfast seriously

    Start the day with a jolt at Origin (pictured), the almost comically serious coffee house on Curtain Road. At this minimalist gallery-esque space, the beans are treated with po-faced reverence but the resultant cold-brew really is a work of art. For something altogether razzlier head to the low-slung, super-smart Hoi Polloi, the in-house restaurant at the Ace Hotel which still manages a kind of louche glamour at breakfast. Join the party people for excellent pick-me-ups from the dreamily decadent (French Toast with rhubarb and Chantilly) to the hardcore health-conscious such as the mood-enhancing mylks and elixirs.

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    Make the most of lunch at these lunch-only restaurants

    The lovely red-brick streets of the Boundary Estate are blessed with two lunch-only local institutions. Leila’s on Calvert Avenue is where you’d eat every day in the fantasy version of your life. The food is unpretentious, home-cooked, English-rustic. At neighbouring tables eccentric-looking art people have interesting conversations about painting or politics. The service is satisfyingly diffident and the whole thing has a feeling of authentic creative communality. Round the corner, hidden behind a gated wall, is the Rochelle Canteen, one of London’s best restaurants. Owners Melanie Arnold and Margot Henderson have created a gorgeously informal insidery space where they serve uncomplicated, lovely food: steak tartare, devilled crab, deep and rich fish stew with chickpeas and rouille. It’s unlicensed, but you can bring your own (buy a bottle from Leila’s shop).

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    Take a trip down memory lane

    Gladdening the hearts of all misty-eyed nostalgics of the recent past, stalwarts of Shoreditch’s golden era are still serving their reassuringly expensive pints. The antic Bricklayer’s Arms and the Owl and the Pussycat (pictured) remain the neighbourhood’s best proper pubs. It seems incredible that something that once so captured the spirit of the age could still be going years later, but ur-style bar Dream Bags and Jaguar Shoes still reigns supreme.

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    Dine at one of London’s best restaurants

    Shoreditch’s restaurants just keep getting better and better. Top spot is a straight scrap between old muckers Isaac McHale and James Lowe, former collaborators who now helm The Clove Club (pictured) and Lyle’s, respectively. The former is housed in the grand Shoreditch Town Hall where McHale serves his justly famed, five-course no-choice menu (insider tip: canny locals prop up the bar where the substantial snacks come a la carte). Round the corner, at Lyle’s, Lowe has created a lovely, light-filled space for his sensational low-intervention cooking.

    Michelin-starred Brat is a Basque-accented joint from famous chef Tomas Parry, while Leroy, the second project from the team behind now-closed Hackney legend Ellory, is a casual wine bar with a simple menu that also won a «https://www.cntraveller.com/article/michelin-star-restaurants-uk-2020»]Michelin[/link] star in 2018.

    For bling and brass and bustle go to Mark Hix’s massive Tramshed with its Damien Hirst Cock ‘n’ Bull installation hanging from the ceiling. For something more intimate, Popolo on Rivington Street is a cute, Mediterranean-inspired small-plate space by Kickboxing champion-turned-chef Jon Lawson. The south end of Kingsland Road is London’s Little Hanoi; the pick of its many Vietnamese restaurants is the hilariously shambolic but always amazing Long Kee.

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    Discover the secret bar scene

    Shoreditch was slow to come to the cocktail party but now that it’s here, it’s making all the right moves. Over on City Road, the Prohibition-style speakeasy, Nightjar, has live jazz and swing most nights and a cocktail list for the ages. Star of the show, though, is the bartender’s bar, Happiness Forgets (pictured), a tiny, atmospheric little joint in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it basement under a restaurant on Hoxton Square. Their short brilliant list includes immediate cult favourites such as the Tokyo Collins and their take on the Dark ‘n’ Stormy, the Perfect Storm.

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    Stay up late

    The screeching hullabaloo of the infamous Mother Bar is one of the few originals still rocking the crowds. For more grown-up razzle, get behind the velvet rope of members’ clubs Shoreditch House and The Curtain, both of which are prized as some of London’s best rooftop bars – as is the youthful, buzzing Queen of Hoxton– with a teepee for winter outdoor drinking – and this place has no membership rules.

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    WHERE TO STAY IN SHOREDITCH

    ACE HOTEL

    The London outpost of the hipster hotel chain fits seamlessly into its surroundings with its lobby-bar-shared-workspace and effortless cool. Restaurant Hoi Polloi makes for perfect human peacock-watching.

    Address: Ace Hotel, 100 Shoreditch High Street, London E1


    Telephone: +44 20 7613 9800


    Website: acehotel.com

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    SHOREDITCH HOUSE

    The rooms at Nick Jones’s celebrated Shoreditch House are small but perfectly formed – and amazing value given that they come with 24-hour access to the club and its rooftop pool (and infamous parties).

    Address: Shoreditch Rooms, Ebor Street, Shoreditch, London E1


    Telephone:+44 20 7739 5040


    Website: shoreditchhouse.com

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    THE CURTAIN

    Super-cool American hotelier Michael Achenbaum (of Gansevoort fame) has brought New York City smarts to Shoreditch with his 120-room, street-culture-tinged members’ club-hotel. Its restaurant, Red Rooster, is an offshoot of Marcus Samuelsson’s Harlem institution.

    Address: The Curtain, 45 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, London EC2A


    Telephone: +44 20 3146 4545


    Address: thecurtain.com

    THE BOUNDARY

    Terence Conran’s Boundary is an island of mature refinement in a sea of yoof culture. Go there for its lovely rooftop restaurant and bar, its new basement restaurant, Tantra, and its rooms furnished with modernist classics.

    Address: Boundary, 2-4 Boundary Street, Shoreditch, London E2


    Telephone: +44 20 7729 1051


    Website: boundary.london

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    NOBU HOTEL

    Expect understated ultra-luxury at Nobuyaki Matsuhisa and Robert De Niro’s first European hotel. Oh, and the restaurant’s not bad, either.

    Address: Nobu Hotel Shoreditch, 10-50 Willow Street, Shoreditch, London EC2A


    Telephone:+44 20 7683 1200


    Website: nobuhotelshoreditch.com

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    THE CULPEPER

    A stripped-back, revamped London pub with five lovely (and good-value) rooms upstairs (Scandi furniture, natural wood, rough plaster) and, up on top, the most wonderful rooftop greenhouse with a bar and dining room amid the greenery.

    Address: The Culpeper, 40 Commercial Street, Shoreditch, London E1 6LP


    Telephone: +44 20 7247 5371


    Website: theculpeper.com

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    The exterior of Monty’s Deli

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    Inside Monty’s Deli

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    The garden at Rochelle Canteen

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    The takeaway counter at Tramshed

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    Diners at Popolo

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    The bar at Nightjar

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    Inside Nightjar

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    A band playing at Nightjar

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    A band playing at Nightjar

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    Cocktail making at Happiness Forgets

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    Happiness Forgets

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    The rooftop swimming pool at Shoreditch House

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    Inside Shoreditch House

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    Joyeux Bordel

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    A bartender at Hoi Polloi

  • Things to do in Shoreditch

    The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane






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