London will always hold a special place in my heart; it’s the first place I ever lived in the Northern Hemisphere, and I genuinely think it’s the melting pot of the world. No-one is ever too weird or too different in London, and I love that.
We lived in East London for two years and it still feels like my home away from home; most of our friends still live there, and despite it’s ever-changing nature it always feels easily familiar. Sometimes the endless brick can feel pretty grim (especially in winter) and it takes a lifetime to get across town if you need to head west or south but if you want the perfect intersection of park life, cafe culture, relaxed pubs, markets and emerging boutiques, East London is it.
Market to Market
Columbia Road Market may be the ultimate Instagram cliche/delight, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an authentic London experience. It gets pretty packed by 10am, so grab a coffee, wander around the vintage stalls nearby then make your floral purchases after 2pm when the vendors are closing up and offering discounts.
Columbia Road Market, every Sunday, Columbia Rd, London E2 7RG
Broadway Market is open every Saturday and requires an empty stomach for full appreciation. Coffee, pulled pork buns, pastries, vegan treats, Vietnamese; sample it all.
Broadway Market, every Saturday, Broadway Market, London E8 4PH
When weather permits Londoner’s make the most of open green spaces; meaning that on any given sunny Saturday afternoon the local park swiftly turns into a BBQ party.
In the summer months there’s nothing better than grabbing some friends, beers and snacks and heading to London Fields (right above Broadway Market) to wile away the afternoon. This spot is less picnic, more party.
London Fields, Hackney, London E8 3EU
Otherwise grab a Santander Cycles (previously called Barclays Bike) for £2 at any of the nearby docking stations and head to Victoria Park for endless green expanse. Don’t forget your friends, beers and snacks and make a day of it.
Victoria Park, Grove Rd, London E3 5TB
Coffee culture has spread like wildfire throughout London so it’s pretty impossible to actually create a definitive list of the best coffee in East London. But these are a few of my favourites.
Allpress is a massive roastery with a cafe out front that serves coffee with precision.
Allpress Espresso Roastery and Cafe, 55 Dalston Ln, London E8 2NG
Climpson & Sons know good coffee. Found on Broadway Market, there’s often a line in weekends, but they’re worth the wait.
Climpson & Sons Cafe, 67 Broadway Market, London E8 4PH
Kiwi-run Embassy East take coffee just as seriously as we do back home. They also serve up simple but delicious brunch if you’re in the mood.
Embassy East, 285 Hoxton St, London N1 5JX
Pavillion Bakery serves great coffee and even better bread.
Pavillion Bakery, 18 Broadway Market, London E8 4QJ
In a city like London where everyone is forever time-poor, brunch is king. After all, why not combine two meals into one mega meal where no drink or dish is off limits. Again, like singling out good coffee, this list could be endless, however I’ve narrowed down a few of my long-time favourites and recent finds.
Leila’s Shop is an East London institution; a cosy cafe serving thoughtfully created seasonal fare with a produce shop next door.
Leila’s Shop, 15-17 Calvert Ave, London E2 7JP
Cafe Miami is the new kid in town, with a highly Instagrammable interior and delicious dishes to match.
Cafe Miami, 24 Lower Clapton Rd, London E5 0PD
Dishoom has several locations around London and in all honesty there’s nothing more satisfying than sharing a feast here with friends. Flavoursome Indian cuisine with a distinctly modern touch.
Dishoom, 7 Boundary St, London E2 7JE
Jones & Sons does a mean Bloody Mary, a killer roast, and most importantly, bottomless brunch.
Jones & Sons, 3 Gillett St, London N16 8JH
Well Street Kitchen is home to generous servings of fresh, quality food that you end up craving every weekend. Coffee, avo on toast, sausage and eggs; they’ve got you covered.
Well Street Kitchen, 203 Well St, London E9 6QU
BOTANY is a florist with a modern approach; less blooms, more greenery. Combined with their bright airy space and enviable homewares, it’s highly Instagram-worthy. BOTANY, 5 Chatsworth Rd, London E5 0LH
LNCC combines luxury shopping and insane interiors for a truly unique, appointment only-experience.
LNCC, 18-24 Shacklewell Ln, London E8 2EZ
Perhaps the best bookshop in East London, Artwords will leave you convinced you need to add at least three hefty books and five magazines to your suitcase.
Artwords Bookshop, 20-22 Broadway Market, London E8 4QJ
Blitz is one of the OG vintage stores in East London (of which there are many) and it’s still one of the best if you’re looking for something genuinely unqiue.
Blitz, 55-59 Hanbury St, London E1 5JP
Labour and Wait is where you’ll discover all the (slightly pricey) homewares you never knew you needed. Worth window shopping at the very least.
Labour and Wait, 85 Redchurch St, London E2 7DJ
Modern Society delivers a strictly cooler-than-thou offering featuring classic and emerging designers.
Modern Society, 33 Redchurch St, London E2 7DJ
Glasshouse Salon is undoubtedly my favourite salon, which I still frequent despite no longer living in London. But even if you don’t need a cut or colour (although I highly recommend making an appointment if you do) they also offer the best range of organic beauty/skin/hair products I’ve ever seen under one roof.
Glasshouse Salon, Netil House, Westgate St, London E8 3RL
Grab a Pint
Heading to the pub is about is English as it gets – and in London you’ll struggle to be less than a block away from at least one watering hole.
Perhaps my favourite pub in London, Hand of Glory makes a mean breakfast and an even meaner Bloody Mary. Relaxed, fun with a local crowd.
Hand of Glory, 240 Amhurst Rd, London E8 2BS
The Royal Oak is the ideal spot for a mellow beer or rowdy all-night drinking with friends.
The Royal Oak, 73 Columbia Rd, London E2 7RG