Big Ben, Nelson’s Column, Tate Modern apart from belonging to our beloved London, what do they have in common? We’ve all been there and done that! Sure the landmarks have been done to death, but on rolling your eyes at these monuments consider rolling them towards the east. Just beyond Liverpool Street, beyond Shoreditch High Street, keep going up Kingsland Road and you will hit yet another side to London. There is no more exciting place to be at the minute than Hackney. Everything is changing there, and with change comes personality, so if you want a truly different London adventure then may I present to you a 24 hour stay in East London.
The Best Way to Spend One Day in East London
It’s a late start but there’s no rush to beat the crowds into the centre, here you can take it easy and have a relaxing mid-morning brunch. There are many ‘hipster’ cafes around, the main draw being high quality foods and good strong coffee. Everything here is fresh, just how I like it! Rail Road on Morning Lane is a quaint cafe offering delicious homemade food, and square mile coffee. It’s the perfect place to check up on your emails and read a morning paper. Didn’t bring any reading material? They also sell books, both new and used. The laid back music and friendly service will make the perfect relaxed start to your day in Hackney.
11.30am Street Art Spotting
To familiarise yourself with the area take a walk through Hackney’s urban streets. What visually differentiates the East of London to other areas is the street art. A walk up and down the canal, Mare Street and Hackney Road unveils a variety of unique street art. Local reoccurring favourites to look out for include ROA’s illustrative animals, Sweet Toof’s teeth, Stik’s cute stick men and critters.
1.00pm Off Beat Shopping
In the east, the independent shops rule the roost, which means there is plenty to see, plenty to buy and plenty to show off to your friends later as they all ask you “where did you get that?” If you want truly unusual then look no further than The Last Tuesday Society. This curiosity shop nods back to a 17th Century Wunderkabinett. Within you will find all sorts of eclectic one off oddities. If you prefer something a little more middle-of-the-road, Broadway Market is a five minute walk away. On Saturdays the place is a buzz with food and vintage market stalls but in the week it turns into a quiet street with plenty of bespoke, vintage, food and book shops; from artists’ books to knitting patterns you’ll find something of interest. If you’re getting peckish there are many tea and coffee shops all serving delicious homemade cakes.
4.00pm Old School Cinema
Get down to Kingsland Road and check out one of London’s oldest cinemas, dedicated to cult and culturally diverse films. This single screen cinema will throw you back in time and is well worth the visit no matter what film is showing.
7.00pm Art and Eating
Art is the real essence of East London at present, should you happen to be around on the first Thursday of the month I would strongly advise that you check out Hackney’s happening art scene. First Thursdays is an event which all east London art galleries participate in. If you don’t manage to make it in time then head to Hackney Wick: a community of artists’ studios, warehouses and culture. Crate is right on the canal and serves the most beautiful pizza alongside some of London’s finest ales. It fills up pretty quickly so I wouldn’t advise getting there much later than seven, otherwise you’re in for a wait.
9pm A Drink With A Parrot
Do you like alcohol? Do you like parrots? Would you like your alcohol to be served to you by a parrot? This is indeed a possibility. In Clapton there is a fantastic little bar named Biddle Brothers, the owner’s parrot spends most of the evening perched on his shoulder. The alcohol is reasonably priced and the entertainment ranges from jazz bands, spoken word evenings and performances.
Get inspired by London, check out these great London based films for a trip down memory lane.
Read our Ultimate London Weekend Guide next.