I know a lot about London but there are some areas that are still a mystery. So with the idea of correcting that I went up to Shoreditch at the weekend.
It’s no secret that London is very much a cosmopolitan city, with its trendy bars, Michelin starred restaurants and chic shopping districts, it’s not hard to see why. The majority of London travellers are usually keen to explore this glossy, aesthetically pleasing part of the city, and whilst there’s nothing wrong with that, the sheer fact remains that sometimes the most beauty is found within imperfections rather than a perfected exterior. Cue: the urban side of London.
Districts such as Shoreditch really come into their own when travellers are looking for somewhere quirky, interesting and fun to explore. With some of the best street art around, it is also a fantastic place to head if looking to discover new and upcoming artists. After all, it was the urban streets of London where acclaimed artist Banksy chose to display some of his work. Brick Lane is a fantastic place to start your exploration of street art in the city, as there are plenty of different styles to behold and lots of colours are used to captivate and inspire.
Even if art isn’t high on the agenda of the London visitor, then perhaps the promise of stunning street food will be sure to entice even the most dubious traveller to the less glamorous, but no less exciting urban side of the city. The High Street in Shoreditch offers a food village where everything from steak to burritos can be purchased and enjoyed, although for something completely unique and altogether satisfying, why not opt for a Japanese hot dog? Unheard of combinations are the norm in this part of the city, so don’t be afraid to step out of the usual and into the unknown, often visitors are pleasantly surprised when they do. Consider arranging to meet friends here for a catch up with a difference.
Another one of the more unusual meeting venues in Shoreditch is The Book Club, which isn’t as boring as the name may suggest. In fact, scrap any preconceptions that may have surfaced, as this is one bar you should visit with an open mind, as this restaurant/bar is decorated with minimalist styling and is dotted with ping pong tables, encouraging trendy groups of friends who are out to enjoy a cocktail or two, to get up and be active whilst still having a great time. As expected, visitors that drop by later in the evening will see a hive of vivacious activity where people are laughing, enjoying each other’s company and making new friends too. Cocktails and Ping pong- if there’s a better or more enjoyable way to break the ice when meeting someone new, it probably hasn’t been found yet. Bar Kick, is another similar establishment, only instead of ping pong, there’s foosball to be played instead. Both bars offer cocktails though, so picking which one to visit should entirely depend on which sporting abilities you possess.
For travellers who have booked accommodation at a chic yet affordable establishment like the M by Montcalm London Shoreditch tech city, or the striking Nobu Hotel in Shoreditch, which opens in east London in 2016, another ultra-trendy place to check out on the urban side of the city is the Google offices. With a sleek corridor that serves good coffee, it’s a trendy hangout spot for college and university students who have left their work too late and are looking for a change of scenery to spark their creativity. Treat yourself to a coffee in this high tech environment and enjoy the free web connectivity so that catching up on emails from back home has never been so appealing.
Another quirky place to check out is the pillow cinema, which is not far from Shoreditch. Rather than paying too much to sit in a stuffy cinema, consider booking to see your choice of a movie classic or new release outside in the fresh air, at this outdoor, rooftop cinema. It makes the perfect setting for a romantic city date and after watching a movie under the stars, visiting a standard cinema will never be as exciting ever again, even if it does promise to screen the new Star Wars movie!
Speaking of movies, for visitors who are into independent cinema, then Electric cinema on Redchurch Street is not to be missed. Wine lists, comfortable arm chairs and coffee tables are all orders of the day, and even if the film watched turns out to be awful, at least the wine would be good.
Of course, no good place to visit is complete without a little retail therapy, and there’s plenty of that in a non-conventional way at Box Park, one of London’s first pop up malls. Featuring boutique styled shops and quaint eateries; it really is shopping as never seen before. What’s more, there are both well-known brands and independent labels on offer, and the prices aren’t ridiculously inflated either, making it an accessible place to visit for all.
One of the key aspects of Shoreditch’s renowned reputation is its nightlife; historically this was because of the sheer number of brothels that were located there. Now though, Shoreditch has earned its right to be one of the best places to head for a night out with clubs such as 333mother which is open until the small hours of the morning or Bedroom Bar which offers an unusual setting in which to appreciate an eclectic mix of music across its three floors.
Overall, whilst the well-advertised tourist attractions of the city, such as the London eye experience, are fun to visit, they also come at a hefty admission fee. Shoreditch is the perfect way to explore the underrated side of the city whilst being simultaneously budget friendly and exciting.