Silicon Roundabout is slowly proving itself as a thought leader in global technology, beyond just being an intersection within London and also a great place for a fun night out. Here is a handy guide to the area and how you can make the most out of your trip here.
The roundabout is often dubbed as ‘Silicon Roundabout’, due to the huge number of tech start-up firms that have positioned themselves here. Alluding to California’s famed Silicon Valley, the area boasts hundreds of new companies, employing thousands of people and creating a real sense of entrepreneurship and a skill-based community. Beyond the SMEs, you also have the likes of Google and Microsoft setting up camp here, while including the great cafes and restaurants here, there are over 1,300 companies in the area.
The UK government recently announced further funding as part of the East London Tech City initiative, and the region’s landscape is set to dramatically change over the next few years. Official government figures have revealed that in the postcode of EC1V, 15,270 new businesses were created in the year ending March 2013 – this is more than any other postcode in the UK!
It is here where ordinary men are being transformed into global names, all aiming to become the new Mark Zuckerberg or Tim Cook, in hipster-chic converted warehouse office space, all linked by alternative and quirky cocktail bars. And this is where you come in.
While Old Street Roundabout may be a nightmare to try and cross, this truly highlights just how much of a connection point it is in the city. City Road crosses it, running southwards towards Liverpool Street Station and the financial City of London, while moving north-west to King’s Cross, St Pancras and Angel; the last of which is the area in which every yuppie in the city wants to live.
Over on the west you get the highbrow neighbourhood of Bloomsbury and the West End, which attracts millions of visitors every year due to its toe-tapping shows, dazzling lights and fantastic nightlife scene. And over to the east, you get London’s East End, recently revamped for the 2012 Olympics and the always-happening Shoreditch.
And right at the centre of the roundabout you have an underground shopping complex, St Agnes Well – named after an ancient well that is believed to be located around 200 metres to the east and yet has never been found. Move on up and you will find some great bars on the roundabout itself, such as the Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen.
Beyond all this, there are also a variety of tours available that will take you around the area. These will feature learning about the difference between Silicon Roundabout and Tech City, exploring the online gaming firms, chilling in the hippest social hangouts of Shoreditch and a discussion about the government’s role in the area.
Leisure and nightlife
When grabbing food, you have a fair choice of eateries. On the Bab is a great street food outlet that offers tasty Korean grub, The 3 Crowns pub has an extensive traditionally British menu, and Pos serves healthy and environmentally-friendly salads, soups and sandwiches.
There is also many a bar near silicon roundabout. As noted above, The 3 Crowns is ideal if you are looking for a quiet pint in a ‘local’, while the Old Fountain also caters to this crowd, located in a small side street. For a more buzzing atmosphere, the Masque Haunt has been a favourite among yuppies for years, especially around peak hours.
If you want to keep the party going until the wee hours of the morning, your best bet will be to head to Shoreditch. If you like your drinks with a twist, Happiness Forgets in Old Street has luscious cocktails and fabulous food, while Hawksmoor Spitalfields is a basement bar where the martinis and cosmos keep flowing. The latter truly is one of the best bars in east London.
A popular haunt here is Cargo, with its great programme of underground artists and huge label parties. In one night, you can hear dubstep, art punk, cheesy pop and indie rock, while there is also an outdoor courtyard that showcases gigs daily. And unlike its name suggests, The Book Club is a great basement club that remains as hipster as ever.
With such great transport links to the West End and Central, you may seriously consider Old Street as a place to stay for your trip to the big smoke. Whether it is its rising skyscrapers, youthful mentality or innovative public spaces, this small patch of ground may indeed be what the future of London looks like.
What is nearby?
The great thing about Silicon Roundabout is that if you are planning to spend a day here, you also have access to a wealth of fantastic attractions. Just 500 metres south, you will find the Barbican Centre, which regularly hosts classical and contemporary music concerts, film screenings, art exhibitions and theatre performances.
Alternatively, head onto Commercial Street and walk for around ten minutes – you will soon stumble upon old Spitalfields Market. Having formerly stood as the place for the City’s fruit, vegetables and flower market, which is now located in Leyton, it now has daily markets, with each day specialising in a specific type of goods. Be sure to check online to see what may be on here during your visit.
How to get here
If you are staying at the comfortable Montcalm hotels, then you will want to walk to Marble Arch just round the corner and hop onto the Central line to Bank. From here, change onto the Northern line and go to Old Street Roundabout – this is the heart of Tech City. The entire journey should take around 25 minutes.