Shoreditch, London: 7 ways to experience this hip neighbourhood

Shoreditch, London: 7 ways to experience this hip neighbourhood

Cool cats

Text: Gayatri Bhaumik

From cheeky boutique hotels to historic markets and a diverse food scene, Shoreditch is a London gem waiting to be discovered

Acknowledged as London's hipster central, Shoreditch is a veritable assault on the senses. And though some may say this eccentric neighbourhood's day is over, it still draws crowds of locals and visitors who come to indulge in its array of unique experiences. Here are just a few reasons to head to this East London spot on your next visit.

The Cheeky Boutique Hotels

It's a 24/7 affair in Shoreditch but if you do need 40 winks, check into one of the many delightfully designer hotels. An eclectic Mr and Mrs Smith property, Batty Langley's, combines wicked wit with sophisticated Georgian-era flair. Down the road, The Hoxton serves up modernist aesthetics as streamlined as they are bold.

Mr and Mrs Smith, shoreditch, hotel

The Notorious Nightlife

Shoreditch is London's most notorious destination for a wild night out, so come prepared for a long one. With its rotating DJ roster, XOYO is the unsurpassed leader of the club pack but at The Book Club, revellers play ping pong between sessions on the basement dance floor. For sophisticated fun,  Callooh Callay is an Alice in Wonderland-inspired dream, while Below the Smoke serves Scandi vibes and lab-like drinks, and Happiness Forgets is a no-nonsense spot for off-duty bartenders. If you're seeking live music, try The Blues Kitchen for jazz and blues, or the Nightjar for a speakeasy setting.

nightjar, shoreditch, London

The Diverse Food Scene

When it comes to food, expect everything from cool eateries doing deconstructed dishes to white linen fine-dining. Dishoom's Indian dishes are a perennial favourite, as are the well-stuffed bagels at Beigel Bake. For quality British fare, punters flock to the The Ivy City Garden — a recently added oasis of quiet sophistication — and The Clove Club, which specialises in farm-fresh tasting menus. For a side of art with your steak, book a table at Tramshed, where a Damien Hirst sculpture anchors a dining room where meat reigns supreme.

tramshed, London, shoreditch

The Alternative Fashion

When in Shoreditch, hit the slick boutiques trading in avant-garde fashion for a quick fashion overhaul. Start at Aida, where you can peruse edgy streetwear, grab a coffee, then get a makeover at the vintage beauty counter, before hitting up the contemporary designer boutiques on Redchurch Street, rounding ff your look with handmade leather accessories from Ally Capellino. Feeling old-school aesthetics? Curate some looks from the vintage stores along Cheshire Street — try Hunky Dory or House of Vintage.

The Historic Markets

This historic part of London is also home to some of the city's oldest market experiences. Spitalfields (and the adjacent Old Spitalfields Market) is the gold standard, and you'll find everything from locally produced art, fashion and jewellery to high-end boutiques like Urban Decay and Konditor & Cook. If you're looking for fresh blooms — or the perfect Instagram shot — head for Columbia Road Flower Market, where over 60 vendors sell home-grown or imported flowers, along with art, antiques, and homewares. For a 21st Century experience, BoxPark is a market made of shipping containers where you'll find everything from food and drink to nail spas and fashion boutiques.

spitalfields, London, shoreditch

The Edgy Art

Art is Shoreditch's raison d'etre, and this quirky neighbourhood boasts magnificent street art and cutting-edge galleries. Banksy and Nathan Bowen are well represented here, so wander along places like Rivington Street and Brick Lane for your fill of no-holds-barred murals. For a more formal setting, try Parasol Unit and Kate McGarry for emerging talent, and Netil House for studios and pop-up events.

The Unique Experiences

Shoreditch is as non-conformist as London comes, so of course this 'hood has its share of unique experiences. The Electric Cinema is a local legend where the movie-going experience gets a plush vintage upgrade, while Ballie Ballerson is an an adults-only ball pit (and bar). For unadulterated quirk — and an immersive history lesson — Denis Sever's House is a living recreation of a 17th Century silk weaver's family home.

shoreditch, London

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