While east London has not traditionally been a magnet for tourists, with redevelopment, gentrification and a vibrancy long-known to its locals, it is full of charms and surprises. And thanks to the Olympics putting this area on the map, east London now buzzes with pride and reflection. However, with the presence of several famous Banksy graffiti pieces scattered around, they serve as a reminder of the raw and rebellious East End.
While not entirely without charms, as home to the Theatre Royal and Stratford Circus, the buzz around Stratford is about the large-scale, lasting developments, most notably the Olympic Park. East Londoners also have quick access to 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.
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