Take to the graffiti-covered streets of Shoreditch on a rare sunny day and you’ll find it heaving. This formerly down-on-its-heels neighborhood is ground zero for the -revitalization of London’s northeast corner.
Fight for a spot at the rooftop-terrace bar and restaurant at the Boundary hotel for sunset drinks and breathtaking views of the city. If it’s a typically gray and drizzly afternoon, join the East London hipsters tucked under blankets on the Aubin Cinema’s velvet sofas and watch a movie with a bottle of wine.
Dressed-up downmarket food is all the rage, so queue up for a Dead Hippie burger at Meat Mission in Hoxton Market or a wafer-thin crispbread pizza at Story Deli. East Londoners more concerned with the provenance of their food than the decor of the restaurant love Brawn on Columbia Road, a no-frills wine bar that serves seasonal shared plates and amazing charcuterie.
After dark, hit one of the underground speakeasies that dot the area. At the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town, you enter through a Smeg refrigerator door in a diner. Alternates include Callooh Callay, Worship Street Whistling Shop and the Nightjar, all of which serve exotic cocktails in small, dimly lit spaces.
For a bigger night out, Platform café—a bar and terrace on the second floor of a converted 1950s office -building—is ready-made for dancing, drinking and thinking. The industrial space hosts film evenings, a supper club and poetry readings in case you’re feeling artsy. Local creativity and innovation continue at Boxpark, a pop-up mall where shipping containers house concept shops, and at Goodhood and Labour and Wait, stores that give everyday objects from brooms to staplers a stylish makeover.
Looking to blend with trendsetting locals? Visit the original Religion store on Shoreditch High Street for distressed rock-and-roll-style gear. But when it comes to really dressing the part, the first rule is to wear whatever you want, because anything goes. That’s the true spirit of East London.