East London is a cultural melting pot of niche cafes, rooftop bars, art galleries, and trendy watering holes. Every corner has an underlying creative energy that is hard not to fall in love with. Since it flourished in the early nineties, it has served as an enticing attraction not just for artists, but visitors from all walks of life who want to witness the grit and glitter of the East End.
Add these places to your itinerary to experience the coolest joints that the East End of London has to offer.
Museum of London Docklands
This museum provides viewers with an interesting point of view of East London history, beginning from the Romans’ arrival, all the way to the rise of Canary Wharf. If you’re unfamiliar with the timeline, let its historic photographs and rich printed materials paint a picture of this fascinating story. It is all housed in an equally historical warehouse that was built over 200 years ago.
The Castle Cinema
This boutique cinema also doubles as an art deco bar. Beyond that, it has worn even more hats — serving as a hall, shoe factory, and more. It wasn’t until 1913 when this historic building was restored back to a cinema. Now, The Castle Cinema has returned to institution status, providing a gorgeous alternative to the typical movie house. It boasts ornate gold plasterwork and luxe velvet chairs.
Image credit: The Castle Cinema
Street Art Tour
East London is pretty much synonymous with street art — so much so that it is no longer exclusive insider knowledge, but a tourist attraction. Just a stroll along the famous Brick Lane, and you will see some of the most legendary works of street art on the planet. Head to the back of Cargo Nightclub on Rivington Street to marvel at the iconic Banksy activist marks. And if you see life-sized, pedestrian-stopping murals, that is probably Conor Harrington’s handy work.
Dennis Severs’ House
Step inside this attraction and be transported back in time. Dennis Severs’ House looks straight out of a still life painting, giving viewers a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience. Here, you can witness what life was like as an eighteenth-century silk weaver — half-eaten dinners on the table, unkempt beds, and all.
This isn’t your typical shopping mall. Housed in shipping containers underneath the Shoreditch High Street Overground station, Boxpark has a cool selection of Scandinavian-inspired retail fashion brands, accessories, and other non-commercial, artsy labels. Food places like Voodoo Ray’s and Poptata are also available to nourish you after a full day of shopping.
East Londoners are known for their eclectic style and love for vintage. While there are rows and rows of thrift stores, Bias is one of the best places where you can find a curated selection of luxury labels usually found in high-end shops. Scour the racks for brands like Pferdgarten, Bellerose, and Burberry. Each piece is one-of-a-kind, so you’re sure not to run into anyone with the same outfit as you.
Image credit: Bias Boutique
Hackney Downs Vegan Market
Curated by internationally-renowned food blogger the Fat Gay Vegan, this meat-free market offers the finest selection of independent traders’ wares. Featuring products like homeware, skin care, and vegan cheese, Hackney Downs Vegan Market makes cruelty-free shopping more accessible and easier. Popular brands like Young Vegans and Lazy Boy Kitchen are all present to cater to the rising demand for a vegan lifestyle.
Image credit: Fat Gay Vegan
The brainchild of bartending brothers Max and Noel Venning, this cocktail bar is tucked underneath Blixen restaurant. It exudes an elegantly old-school vibe, perfect for intimate nights. Here, drinks are categorized by flavor instead of boldness. Bar Three is known for its array of sophisticated ingredients — ranging from fermented blackberries, to their signature Fanny Fougerat Cognac.
Image credit: The Chosen Club