If you are staying in any of the hotels near Shoreditch tube station, you won’t need to worry about being out of the loop. While you can easily get the train into Central, there is a wealth of attractions actually at your doorstep – here are our top five picks that you can get to within a 15-minute walk.
20 Hoxton Street
This fantastic gallery, located just three minutes from the station in Hoxton Square, opened in 2007 and it has been growing in strength ever since. Interestingly, one of the co-directors Alex Dellal is the son of a billionaire property developer, the godson of Mario Testino and has a model and shoe designer as sisters.
It is therefore hardly a surprise that all the work is contemporary and from emerging artists. Whether it is wall painting, sculpture, installations or photography, there is something to suit all tastes here, and as the programme is run on an ad hoc approach, no two trips to the gallery will ever be the same. And if all that art has bored you to death, you can always sip on craft beer in the bar.
Just five minutes away is the Geffyre Museum, which looks at how the interiors of English homes have changed over the last 400 years. Stretching back to the 1600s, the displays highlight how furniture, decorative arts and paintings have altered over the years, whether it is over-the-top Victorian decor, stunning Georgian styles, William Morris-inspired works or Ikea chairs.
Exploring East London
To top it all off, the museum is located in a series of stunning 18th-century almshouses and they are surrounded by charming gardens – the ideal place for a lovely afternoon stroll with a loved one.
Hackney City Farm
Situated next to Haggerston Park, just a ten-minute walk from the station, this city farm has been growing local produce for the area for over 200 years, and it is a great day out for the whole family. Originally, the local brewery was located here between 1880 and 1930, supplying beer for Bethnal Green and Hackney Road, but in 1984, it functioned as a farm.
Little ones can pet and feed calves, sheep, pigs, goats and the world-famous Larry the Donkey, who has his own Twitter account and features annually in the Westminster Abbey nativity parade. There are also courses available centred on outdoor activities that take place on the farm, such as straw bale building, beekeeping, woodcraft and even yoga. And if your stomach starts to grumble, the Frizzante cafe has kid-friendly menus and tasty Mediterranean grub.
Christ Church Spitalfields
Built in 1729, this church had had a fascinating history, purely because local authorities wanted to close it down in 1956. Local protests and campaigning, including famous individuals such as poet Sir John Betjeman, saved this place from demolition and it has only recently been restored back to its former glory.
Able to hold 640, this modern parish also serves as a visual arts gallery and concert hall, so be sure to check online what may be on during your visit. If you are looking to have a moment of peaceful contemplation or just want to admire the spectacular architecture, this is the place to go.
Dubbed as a ‘curry mile’, you may be able to try tasty Indian cuisine here, but the area goes beyond just spiced food. In a single stroll, you will be able to enter Jewish bagel shops, buy Indian silk saris or ponder in artist studios. And with the likes of Tracey Emin and Gilbert and George living in the area, this truly is multicultural modern Britain at its best.
The Old Trueman Brewery hosts an impressive year-long programme of exhibitions and displays, and until April 12th 2015, The Art of the Brick is sure to wow and astound. Celebrating all things Lego, the exhibit has travelled extensively across Asia and the US, and is now at Brick Lane of all places. These huge artworks, made purely from plastic blocks, consist of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, a T-Rex skeleton and the Venus de Milo, and if the kids start getting a bit fidgety, take them to the interactive zone where they can create their own masterpieces.
A highlight here is Brick Lane Market, which is an attraction in itself. Whether it is household goods, clothes, fruit and veg, tools, dodgy CD players or local crafts, you can buy virtually anything here, all at discounted prices. Vintage clothing and antiques ensure you go home with something truly unique – just be prepared to haggle, and haggle hard.
And if you stay here until late, you have your fair choice of bars and restaurants to keep the party going until the wee hours of the morning – 93 Feet east is a particular club worth venturing to.