Once upon a time, Hackney was topping lists of Britain’s worst places to live. But the borough has had what can only be described as a Cinderella-like transformation in recent years, and now, it’s one of the capital’s most fashionable postcodes.
A paradise for creative types, Hackney’s reputation for nurturing talent and innovation has drawn those at the forefront of fashion, music and the arts. Venues like the Hackney Empire, the Arcola and the Hackney Picturehouse provide a stage for up-and-coming comedy acts, experimental theatre and cutting-edge cinema. London College of Fashion is in trendy Shoreditch, which straddles the Hackney and Tower Hamlets boroughs. And some of the best contemporary galleries in the capital are here, showcasing eclectic, out-of-this-world pieces.
Hackney’s street scenes
Hackney’s high streets are something of an attack on the senses, thanks to the colourful graffiti art, crooning buskers and street food aromas. And you can eat your way around the world in its restaurants. Cosy British pubs for Sunday roast with all the trimmings? Tick. Pocket-sized Italian pizzerias? Check. Lemongrass-scented Pan-Asian eateries? You betcha. And brunch is something of a religion in these parts, with countless cafés specialising in sourdough and avo and freshly squeezed juices.
HomeViews reviewer says…
“Hackney enjoyed a resurgence and regeneration just prior to, and throughout, the Olympics, which is plain to see in terms of the amenities on offer.”
Hackney cafés and bars
There’s a real café culture to be embraced here, with quality coffee shops often doubling up as vegan food markets, bicycle repair workshops and record stores. Lots open late-night, too, for poetry readings, board games and band jam sessions. Speaking of after-dark escapades, the bars in Hackney are varied, with watering holes spanning faded boozers, drag clubs, and DJ-ed underground dens.
Then there’s the hypnotic markets, which bring all walks of life together. Hackney Flea Market, Broadway Market and Ridley Road are three of the best, packed to the brim with stalls selling fruit and veg, handmade jewellery and retro prints. In fact, we can’t mention Hackney without paying homage to its vintage wares. The best dedicated stores can be found in Dalston, with visitors spending hours trawling the treasures in Oxfam on Kingsland Road.
HomeViews reviewer says…
“Now one of East London’s most sought-after postcodes, Dalston is an eclectic, technicolour delight. The place is splashed with street art (graffiti king-pin Banksy is known to stop by), and home to some of the capital’s best vintage stores (don’t miss Oxfam on Kingsland Road). As for the after-dark scene, there’s proper East London pubs mixed in with quirky cocktail bars (daiquiri in a teapot anyone?), plus countless restaurants selling cuisines from the world-over.”
A slower pace
With all that, it’s easy to think of Hackney as an urban metropolis, but that wouldn’t be doing it justice. Lots of its candy-coloured neighbourhoods have a distinct village feel, such as those near London Fields, Chatsworth Road and Hackney Wick. In these areas you’ll find independent stores, canal-side walks and leisurely park picnics (the borough brags 800-plus acres of green). It could be easy to forget you’re in London, but residents benefit from brilliant train and tube connections to the likes of Canary Wharf, Oxford Street and Liverpool Street.
HomeViews reviewer favourite…
“London Fields is home to its very own lido for relaxing in the warmer months.”