London offers much more than what is apparently visible or what it is famous for. Beyond the sprawling shopping districts, the lofty monuments and the Royal Parks and Palaces, there is an undercurrent of punk music, fashion extravaganza and some great food that is present in the underbelly of the city. A 12-hour tour of the important places in East London will reveal all these aspects of the city that many residents and visitors are unaware of. The tour will take you through shabby street corners and empty warehouses to fashion design centres and interesting art galleries.
The best way to go on this tour is to have a base at The Hoxton hotel which is located in the heart of Shoreditch. It is the ideal place to stay for exploring the little known side of East London. You can get a double room at this hotel on Great Eastern Street for about 80 pounds for a night, which is quite affordable. Having taken up a room, you can proceed to Ozone Coffee Roasters on Leonard Street for hearty, British breakfast and some excellent coffee so that your stomach is full and ready for a hectic and tiring day of exploration. The coffee is roasted in the basement and there is an open kitchen. You can find many locals enjoying the breakfast which is excellent and the coffee which is really very tasty.
It would be ideal to take this tour on a Saturday because you can head to St. Regent’s Canal where you can go to the Broadway Market (which is only open on Saturdays) by taking the Underground from Shoreditch High Street for two stops to Haggerston and from there you can walk towards the water and then walk along the water to reach Broadway Market. At the market, you can find vendors selling mostly locally produced food and drinks. Accessories like bags or jewellery are also on sale. A popular item available at this market is Miss Crofton’s homemade underwear which is quite attractive and inexpensive.
While returning from the market, you will come across a tiny corner shop called Artwords Bookshop which has a good selection of books and magazines and a helpful staff. It offers even the least known magazines from all over the world. You can also find an Artwords shop near your hotel in Shoreditch.
If you take the tour on a Sunday, you will miss Broadway Market but you can visit Columbia Road Flower Market where vendors sell freshly cut followers and potted plants. Most customers buy these items in bulk. Moreover, you can buy delicious food, from freshly chucked oysters to Bloody Marys and coffee in the little side streets.
You can then make your way back towards your hotel and if you are a shopaholic, you can visit the Goodhood Store which is close to The Hoxton and sells a great selection of contemporary fashion labels for Women and Men, Scandinavian brands like WoodWood, Japanese designers like Junya Wantanabe and a beautifully curated selection of small, useful things like watches, shoes, wallets and magazines.
You can then proceed to Shoreditch High Street and visit Present London which is one of the best shops here selling the world’s best menswear brands like Nanamica to the perfect boots, and quality clothes. The other nearby shops that you can visit, include Anthem and Leila’s Shop. You can also visit the Albion, which is a café on Boundary Street and has an amazing in-house bakery and A.P.C which is a French brand known for updated, timeless classics with a Boho vibe.
Allpress Coffee on your way down Redchurch Street towards Brick Lane is yet another New Zealand implant that roasts amazing beans. You can then go to Labour and Wait which specialises in transforming the most ordinary things to look special and carries all sorts of household items. You will then come to Brick Lane which is a quintessential East End Street, with all its cafés, vintage shops and Indian curry places a bit further down the road. This area is now a tourist magnet where you can get affordable second hand clothes. The only exception is the Vintage Emporium which is a Victorian style café but it also sells true vintage items such as flapper dresses, hats and shoes, and even old underwear dating back to the early 1900s.
Your next stop will be Boxpark which has an array of containers and each of these units houses another brand or store. There are some nice shops here. By taking an Overground train you can reach Dalston Kingsland which has LN-CC which is a fashion store extraordinaire where you have to book an appointment first. A short walk away is the Farm Shop which is a farm within a shop. It also has tanks full of fish and a nice garden in the back.
For dinner you can proceed to Dishroom which is one of the many amazing restaurants around the east of London. It offers Indian food and its décor is such as was in Bombay Cafes that flourished in the city during the 1960s. The food is fantastic but it does not take reservations unless you are a party of six or more.
You can then go to the Queen of Hoxton which has a “youth club for adults” spanning three stories, with spaces for concerts and theatre, a game room, and a giant bar. The rooftop garden offers a great view of the ever-changing East End in the summer and it sells ice cream and after-dinner cocktails and hosts many events.
Last, but not the least, you can visit The Brick Lane Beigel Bake which is a Jewish Bakery that feeds hungry hipsters and starving construction workers, tired partygoers and eager students alike. They bake everything fresh, around the clock. It is the oldest bagel shop in London and produces around 7.000 Bagels every day.