Perhaps the capital’s biggest oxymoron, East London is a place where traditional meets contemporary and all walks of life collide. And there lies its draw, as many of its millions of occupants will attest to.
East London regeneration
On the one hand, this is a portion of the capital that’s seen much in the way of renovation and innovation. In the past decade, East London has been heavily invested in – from Stratford’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and its neighbouring new-build residential developments, to Hackney’s cutting-edge arts and music scene. And the highly anticipated arrival of Crossrail will revolutionise the area further.
On the other hand, East London is seeped in history, and characterised by its 19th-century docks, Victorian townhouses and tales of Jack the Ripper. Whitechapel walking tours that chart the stories of yesteryear and take in age-old pubs come highly recommended.
Tower Hamlets’ creative hubs
The Tower Hamlets borough is home to sought-after neighbourhoods like Shoreditch, Hoxton and Bethnal Green, where traditional boozers and pie and mash shops share space with exhibitions and galleries. These districts are a favourite for creative professionals, who frequent the artisan coffee shops by day and the live music venues by night. To the north of these so-called ‘hipster hotspots’ you’ll find Mile End, which offers the same East End spirit with a side-order of canalside walks and a family-friendly park.
Tower Hamlets is arguably the best borough in the capital for shopping – there’s everything from vintage clothes stores to treasure-trove antique dens. As for markets, you’re spoilt for choice, thanks to big-hitters like Old Spitalfields, Brick Lane and the Columbia Road Flower Market.
London’s most famous skyline, Canary Wharf’s residential developments are quadrupling, and the area is no longer just a Monday to Friday destination. Here, five supersize malls and a myriad of Thames-facing restaurants and bars sit alongside the high-spec high rises. And transport links here are among the finest in East London. The Jubilee line and the DLR offer fast and reliable connections for commuters, plus Thames Clipper riverbus services are an option if you’d rather get to work along the water. Canary Wharf isn’t just a hive for city slickers these days, though. A handful of good schools and some surprising green swathes have captured the attention of families, as well.
East London’s pockets of calm
Head out to the likes of Havering, Newham and Barking & Dagenham, and there’s sweeping parkland and wide, leafy streets lined with grandiose houses. It results in a less urban feel than most other East London postcodes, but these are no wallflowers – the club and cocktail scenes in places like Chingford and Plaistow rival the traditionally trendier playgrounds. In E17’s Walthamstow, residents are treated to a charming village centre and a sprinkling of gastropubs in the shadow of sprawling Epping Forest.
Diverse, vibrant and with its finger well and truly on the pulse, the East End is the Selfridges of London’s geography, in that it truly offers something for everyone. Art lover? Foodie? Fitness fanatic? Come right in, because you’ll be welcomed with open arms…
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