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.
On the one hand, this is a portion of the capital that’s seen much in the way of regeneration and innovation. In the past decade, East London has been heavily invested in – from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and its countless luxury property developments, to its cutting-edge arts and music scene. And the highly anticipated arrival of Crossrail will revolutionise the area further.
On the other hand, it’s an area seeped in history, and characterised by its 19th-century docks, Victorian townhouses and tales of Jack the Ripper. Walking tours that chart the stories of yesteryear come highly recommended.
The Tower Hamlets borough is home to sought-after neighbourhoods like Shoreditch, Hackney and Bethnal Green, where traditional boozers and pie and mash shops share space with exhibitions and galleries. These are hotspots for creative professionals, who frequent the artisan coffee shops by day, and the live music venues by night.
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 Colombia Road Flower Market. Move over to Canary Wharf, meanwhile, and five supersize malls sit alongside the high-spec high rises, largely packed with designer clothes and interiors.
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 Romford and Plaistow rival the traditionally trendier hipster playgrounds.
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…