Ten to 15 years ago, not many ventured to these London hoods that edged on the outermost borders of Zone 2 on the London Underground map. Even if there had been nearby tube stations, not many people would have wanted to visit, as they were simply too dangerous. But as with most gradually gentrified neighborhoods that push students, artists and young families to more affordable outskirts, these London districts need to be on all millennial travelers’ bucket list.
Where to Stay
The London Overground makes accessing these hip neighborhoods a cinch. Lodge east for easy access to the Overground, as well as enjoying London’s edgier side. Stay at the modern Arbor City Hotel in the Whitechapel district and near the famous Brick Lane area and Spitalfields Market. The hotel also features The Lane Bar, an in-house restaurant bar serving curries. For those looking for a hipper and more upscale experience, try the Ace Hotel London Shoreditch in the heart of trendy Shoreditch area. The hotel provides patrons with loaner bikes to explore the city.
Those who remember the good old days of going out in the Brick Lane/Shoreditch/Hoxton areas of East London also remember the hesitation to venture further north to Dalston. Today, this is the place to be for a great (and late) night out. Before dusk, head to the secret Eastern Curve Garden for £5 freshly oven-baked pizzas, pints and live music. Save room for a delicious Turkish dinner in one of the many restaurants that dot Kingsland High Street, like Cirrik or Stone Cave Cafe. Many are BYOB. After dinner, walk north three minutes to Scenerio bar for more pints and board games. Have a big night out and gain some style tips at one of the several electronic dance clubs like Dance Tunnel and Dalston Superstore. Or, head to The Moustache Bar, a hip basement bar with live DJs, free cover and photos of people with—take a guess—moustaches. Looking for a night cap? Head to Dalston Jazz Bar, which serves caipirinhas and has been known to stay open until 6 a.m. depending on the crowd’s vibe.
Not far from Dalston is Lower Clapton, a lovely neighborhood that’s sure to make anyone feel at home. Many charming cafes and restaurants line the main Brooksby’s Walk, which turns into Chatsworth Road going north. Swing by Doree & Co.’s for a delicious French-inspired brunch. The Clapton Hart is a local favorite offering a modern pub experience, complete with a beer garden. Vegans, don’t fret! Head to Black Cat for 100% vegan fare that’s reasonably priced. If the weather is nice, swing by the Spar supermarket for some healthy and delicious fare and picnic in the small park between Homerton Grove and St. Barnabas Terrace. Within the park is the Homerton Grove Adventure Park for kids. Chats Palace, an arts and theater center, offers exhibitions, workshops and kids programming. For something a little different head to Umit & Son, a rare DVD rental shop that’s part convenience store.
Take the Overground to Peckham Rye station to land in the heart of this cultural enclave. Have some delectable Persian dishes at Persepolis, a cozy café-grocery-store-bookshop, or some south Indian cuisine at Ganapati. Admire the beautiful Peckham Library, the 2000 Stirling Prize winner for architecture, as well as the nearby Peckham Peace Wall by Garudio Studiage. The permanent art piece features post-it notes of love and encouragement that arose from the 2011 London riots. Walk down Rye Lane and pop into the bazaars to get a taste of the old and new, with stalls selling African textiles, music and hair extensions mixed with young independent fashion designers and record stores. Head down Peckham Rye west where chic restaurants like Pedler and Banh Banh line the street. Make it back to the train station for happy hour under the train arches at Bar Story or Peckham Springs. Near the station is the CLF Art Café, a converted warehouse (formerly the Bussey Building), which houses a whole swath of music, theatre, film, comedy and dance nights.