Double-decker busses, black cabs, and Big Ben. All that is London. But in our first guide from there, we are highlighting a different side of the British capital. The punk music, the markets, the fashion. And, believe it or not, the great food. To find all these things, we are traveling East.
The East End of London has evolved a lot in recent years. From sometimes shabby street corners and empty warehouses to polished art galleries and design agency offices. For our guide, we tried to find a perfect mix of both worlds. Some shiny new places, and some beloved old favorites.
10am // The Hoxton Hotel
Good morning, East London! Our favorite hotel here (and the place we’ll call home for this stay) is The Hoxton. Slab dab in the middle of Shoreditch, it has the perfect location for a day full of exploring. We love the chic, design-y interiors, the relaxed staff, and – especially – the room prices.
If you book well in advance, you can score a beautiful double room for around 80 Pounds. In the dark world of London Hotel prices, that is really, really affordable. The Hoxton once got famous for a 1 Pound hotel room sale they offered, but until this day, we haven’t actually met a single person who managed to book that elusive offer.
The Hoxton Hotel // 81 Great Eastern Street // website
Pictures // Hoxton Hotel
10.15am // Ozone Coffee Roasters
This is going to be a long, eventful day! So you better have a hearty, British breakfast and some great coffee to get you up and running. Leave the hotel, and take the short walk via Old Street to Leonard Street, which pleasantly feels very much like a regular, local neighborhood street.
From the outside, Ozone could be easily missed. It looks just like any other tall-ish, warehouse-like building on Leonard street. That all changes once you get inside, though. The company from New Zealand is roasting its coffee downstairs in the basement, and you can peek down via a giant mirror on the wall. But the big roastery is not the only thing grabbing your attention here. There’s an open kitchen with busy chefs preparing food, a giant bar with shiny coffee machines behind it, and lots and lots of locals hanging out, working, or having their first coffee while reading a newspaper.
Ozone’s coffee is really tasty, and the food among the best we had on our trip. Also: The staff is extremely friendly, efficient and helpful.
Enjoy your breakfast (if you want to feel truly British, try their homemade Baked Beans!), and then get ready to leave Shoreditch for a while.
Ozone Coffee Roasters // 11 Leonard Street // Mon-Fri 7.30am-5pm, Sat-Sun 9am-4pm // website
11.30am // St. Regent's Canal
Time to explore one of London’s staples, the markets. This part is a little tricky for us to describe, since most markets take place on certain days of the week only. For the sake of our guide, we are pretending to spend these 12 hours in London on a Saturday or a Sunday. If you are in the city on a regular weekday, have a look at Time Out London for some other local markets. You’ll find one every day!
Every Saturday, the famous Broadway Market takes place. And getting there is no chore, it’s actually a mini-vacation in the middle of the city. Take the Overground from Shoreditch High Street for two stops to Haggerston. (If you feel adventurous, you could easily walk this distance. Have a look on our map and decide for yourself.) From there, walk down the street towards the water.
The Regent’s Canal is an old waterway that was originally built for commercial use. Now, it’s a magnet for city folks who want to get away from the busy streets for a while. The sides of the canal are full of pedestrians and cyclists (Watch out under the low bridges!), and on a sunny day, you’ll see people on canoes on the water.
Walk along the water all the way to Broadway Market.
12pm // Broadway Market
An Hackney institution that takes place every Saturday. It’s always crowded here, so bring some patience while you walk from the canal up to Fields Park and back again. But the vendors are so worth it! You’ll find mostly food, lots of it produced locally, and drinks. Some stalls also sell accessories like bags or jewelry. One of our favorites: Miss Crofton’s Homemade underwear that is extremely pretty and surprisingly affordable.
12.45pm // Artwords Bookshop
On your way back to the canal, you’ll pass a tiny corner shop called Artwords Bookshop. Don’t miss it! It has one of the best selections of books and magazines we’ve ever encountered, and the staff help you out with even the most mundane request.
That obscure Japanese fashion magazine that everybody’s talking about on Twitter but is impossible to get a hold of? Artwords probably has it in stock…
If you don’t want to carry around books the whole day, there is a second Artwords shop pretty close to the hotel in Shoreditch!
Artwords Bookshop // 20-22 Broadway Market // Mon-Fri 10.30am-6.30pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 12pm-6pm // website
Columbia Road Flower Market
If it is Sunday instead, you sadly missed Broadway Market. But don’t fret, because we have an amazing alternative for you. While everything is about food at Broadway Market, it’s all about flowers at Columbia Road. Vendors are selling freshly cut flowers and potted plants, and people are buying them in bulk. “Ten for a tenner!”, the sellers scream.
Don’t miss the little side streets, where you’ll be able to buy delicious food, from freshly chucked oysters to Bloody Marys and coffee.
And now, back to Shoreditch!
Columbia Road Flower Market // every Sunday 8am-3pm // website
2.30pm // Goodhood Store
Before lunch, let’s get some shopping done. First on our list is the Goodhood Store, really close to The Hoxton. We love this shop for its great selection of contemporary fashion labels for Women and Men. Expect lots of Scandinavian brands like WoodWood, Japanese designers like Junya Wantanabe and a beautifully curated selection of small, useful things like watches, shoes, wallets and magazines.
GoodHood Store // 151 Curtain Road // Mon-Fri 10.30am-6.30pm, Sat 10.30am-7pm, Sun 12pm-6pm // website
3pm // Present London
Let’s go over to Shoreditch High Street, this giant lifeline of the East End. It’s bustling with commuters and shoppers alike. No wonder, the selection of shops and restaurants is really extensive.
In our humble opinion, Present London is one of the best shops here. They sell everything a guy could ever want, from some of the world’s best menswear brands like Nanamica to the perfect boots, and the clothes have been picked out with a lot of appreciation for quality and taste.
Inside, next to the entrance, Present London has their very own Prufrock coffee cart, that some people claim sells Shoreditch’s best coffee. Cross the street and enter Calvert Avenue. This is one of Shoreditch’s nicest streets, complete with a little church and a park at the end.
Present London // 140 Shoreditch High Street // Mon-Fri 10.30am-7pm, Sat 11am-6.30pm, Sun 11am-5pm // website
Pictures // Present London