While not entirely without charms, as home to the Theatre Royal and Stratford Circus, the buzz around Stratford is in the not-too-distant-future developments, most notably the Olympic Park for the London 2012 games. East Londoners also look forward to the opening of Westfield Stratford City, a monster of a shopping mall to rival its West London cousin in Shepherd’s Bush, with some 300 stores under its roof. Transport links have improved considerably to allow easy access for the 2012 Games and beyond.
The shabby chic of Shoreditch is translated through a seemingly unkempt facade, of those who dwell and mingle there as well as the buildings themselves. Arguably a nod to the days of it being a haven for the broke and the artistic, it is now a reasonably pricey but definitely cool place to live and comes alive at night, with the full range of restaurants, pubs and bars from the highest of high end, to the grittiest of boozers.
Tube: Old Street
A history of extremes, having really from being the starting point of London as a city, as the largest port in the world, to a derelict wasteland when London’s docks had closed by the 1980s, it is today a fully redeveloped financial and residential district, home to the sky-scraping Canary Wharf and London City Airport.
Tube: Canary Wharf
A major financial and business district, where once West India Docks stood, Canary Wharf boasts some of London’s tallest buildings and has the feel of a concrete island, in amongst a tightly packed residential area of east London. Beneath the imposing buildings such as One Canada Square, there lies a warren-like series of shopping malls, providing the busy banker with everything they might need without veering too far from the office. It makes for a relatively quiet alternative to the bustle of Oxford Street.
Tube: Canary Wharf
A large borough to the north east of The City, Hackney has a colourful past and present and some might even say, a split personality. It is chequered with high-rise council estates and the fringes of the old East End, while also homing rows De Beauvoir Town’s leafy terraces and some uber-trendy loft and warehouse conversions. Broadway Market on a Saturday heightens the easy clash of cultures, with arty types and musicians mingling through the busy street shoulder-to-shoulder with families buying their pricey, organic humous and handmade tortellini. Victoria Park, east London’s largest and best park sits centrally and surrounds its own village, complete with pubs, delis, cafes and shops.
Tube: Bethnal Green