With a plethora of shops, a bevy of cultural activities, amazing eats and serious nightlife, it’s no wonder people flock to this dynamic East London hub. Here’s everything you need to know about Shoreditch…
A brief history lesson:
According to legend, the neighbourhood originally got its name, Shore’s Ditch, after a mistress of Edward IV called Jane Shore, who allegedly died in the area. In the 16th century, it became the site of the first playhouse in England, which hosted some of Shakespeare’s most renowned plays. The area also became a hub for the textile industry in the 17th century, and by the 19th century, it was the nexus of London’s furniture industry before becoming an entertainment centre with multiple theatres and music halls. More recently, in the 1990s, YBA artists like Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin flocked there, turning it into the epicentre of London’s cool, creative set.
Who lives there now:
A largely multicultural area, creatives moved in en masse to the area a couple of decades ago, lured by the Victorian-buildings-cum-loft spaces and cheapo rents. While rents are certainly no longer cheap, the area still draws the young, the beautiful and the talented, from artists to media types, who live there, work there and play there.
Places to eat, drink and be merry:
Shoreditch is the go-to destination for your favourite global cuisines, from deliciously authentic curries to traditional Jewish-style bagels, all available on Brick Lane. There are also plenty of quirky cafes in the area, like Cereal Killer Café, a hipster-centric spot offering 120 different types of cereal with 30 types of milk and 20 different toppings.
Check out the Kingsland Road for delicious Asian cuisine – it’s nicknamed ‘Pho Mile’ because of the delicious Vietnamese pickings around. Other popular restaurants include St. John Bread and Wine for gastro-pubby British fare, Beach Blanket Babylon and The Clove Club, which offers a nine-course menu.
Hit Callooh Callay for delicious cocktails or Hoi Polloi at the trendy Ace Hotel and speakeasy-style nightspots like Danger of Death and The Nightjar. There are plenty of hot nightclubs to keep the party going well into the morning, whether you want dance-music playing DJs or live rockers.
Shopping and culture:
Columbia Road Flower Market has beautiful blooms on sale every Sunday, while Brick Lane is peppered with vintage and independent shops (don’t miss the Sunday Upmarket for jewellery, knitted and hand-crafted items and tasty global eats). Spitalfields, London’s oldest market, lures thousands of shoppers, seven days a week, in search of fashion, vintage, gifts and more.
Cutting-edge art is on display at White Cube Hoxton and the Hoxton Gallery, while The Geffrye Museum gives a history lesson in interiors, showing how homes have changed from the 1600s to the present. For outdoor art, check out the murals and rotating exhibitions on Great Eastern Street and don’t miss the Pillow Cinema for a cosy night out on a beanbag, watching your favourite classic film.
Parks and recreation:
East London’s Victoria Park opened in 1845 and boasts sporting facilities, a skatepark, playgrounds and cafes, while London Fields offers a 50m Olympic size heated outdoor lido for visitors to splash around in. Nearby Regent’s Canal is also a favourite spot for tranquil cycling.
Old Street Station is on the Northern line, while Bethnal Green station and Liverpool Street (both minutes from Brick Lane) are on the Central line. Liverpool Street Underground also services the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines and has a network rail station with destinations on the Great Eastern Main Line, West Anglia Main Line to Cambridge and Stansted Airport. Shoreditch High Street rail station provides easy access to south London, while numerous buses also service the area.
The Theatre in Shoreditch (built in 1576) staged the first performance of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.
Cost of rent:
Great for singletons, Shoreditch is the mecca of on-trend hipsters (dirty burgers, skinny jeans and beards abound; there’s even a ukulele shop on Cheshire Street). This means a lot of the area’s grittiness has been replaced with gentrification, which has pushed many original residents out due to soaring housing costs.
If you have a spare room available in your flatshare in the area, you might find the ideal flatmate looking to move to Shoreditch soon.
Photo credit @Alamy