The up-cycled studio spaces of Containerville offer a trendy new home for start-ups and pop-ups in a sought-after destination, snuggled up next to Regent's Canal with all of Shoreditch Riviera their oyster. A short stroll from the Kingsland Basin to London Fields down the waterside footpath opens up an entire world of sensations: a phenomenal selection of coffees, cocktails and craft beers that are begging to be discovered. What more can you ask for?
But if sitting down and having a drink isn't what the doctor ordered, the area is opulent with natural beauty and bursting with fun activities to do on your lunch break or after work: whether it's yurts on a rooftop you want or an outdoor Olympic sized heated swimming pool. Here's a curated list to help you explore...
Coffee shops and café culture
A brimming, frothy cupful of coffee houses inviting those who travel through to dive in; this particular spot of London has epitomised what it is (or should be) most famous for. Roasted light or dark, silky beans are being infused in almost every nook and cranny, wafting teasingly into public pathways, with each cozy establishment eager to show off its own indie brand of liquid gold.
Broadway Market has its personal little cluster, starting off with the most obvious (though by no means does that lessen its taste or excellence); Climpson and Sons. Not only does this cute little café at the top of the road brew a mean cuppa, it sources and supplies its own green beans to a growing homespun coffee market, though not before applying its own signature taste and texture which has become lip-smackingly popular. Opposite and a few doors down is the quirkily yet calmingly designed café-cum-restaurant-cum-bar, Stories, which stirs in a programme of cultural events, live music, DJs and contemporary art with your espresso. If looking for something relatively less well-known but equally as interesting, sneak into the black chocolate box shop known as Café Maloka; an eclectic little place lined with boldly mismatching furniture (and china) and a kitsch Mexican theme - plus there is a lovely little courtyard out back for summer sipping.
On the other end of Regent’s Canal, dotted between Whitmore Bridge and the Kingsland Basin, is a trove of waterside joints. Each outfit delivers not only a steaming mug of joe, but a sample of the owner’s respective culture and some very palatable views. Despite its cool, earthy interior, Ribeira London heats up the throat with a distinctly fiery Latin flavour and steamy dreamy cuppas till midnight every day of the week. Set up by food photographer Jason-Lowe and his food-writer wife Lori de Mori, Towpath Café plates up and pours in Italian specialities in truly rustic manner - there is no phone number, no website and they only accept cash. Nearby, Arepa and Co is a bright, airy and colourful attack on the senses and taste buds as it embodies its Venezuelan roots - plus there are two indoor hammock chairs that are perfect to sink into while staring out onto the still emerald canal and losing yourself in a cup of perfectly brewed peacefulness as you unknowingly wear a milk moustache.
Host a party or hangout
An industrial wasteland turned wonderland, this area has no shortage of warehouses, rooftops, basements, lofts and arches. That, combined with the millennial knack for creating jaw dropping conversions, means this part of Hackney is the place to host a party or simply hangout where it’s happening.
London Fields Brewery’s pop-up venue lives under the railway arches next door; where two wood-furnished, curve-roofed and exposed-brick spaces join in perfect matrimony on a shared courtyard to create a pretty versatile spot for a pretty awesome private shindig or live gig. If it’s not big enough for some odd reason, The Trampery is a 17,000 square foot monster of a building. Built back in the 1880s for the Temperance Movement, the original oak-beamed Morley Hall is now fronted weirdly yet wonderfully by a four storey 1960s extension and is fittingly home to happy-go-lucky café-bar-bike-repair-shop, Look Mum No Hands.
Once out of Broadway Market and its overspill, a ten minute walk down the footpath of the canal in the direction of Islington brings you to The Proud Archivist, a hybrid establishment with an unripe yet rich past in contemporary culture programming - whether it be a local’s exhibition, a Queen Mary University student event, or the Secret Theatre’s production of a Diary of a Sociopathic Freakozoid. The name manifests in the form of a venue lined from wall to wall with vast gallery bookshelves filled with odds and ends from all its history of hosting, making for an interior that calls for exploring. Talking of which, if you wonder to the south side of the canal into Tower Hamlets, you’ll find Oval Space and The Pickle Factory; two industrial canvases owned by the same people, craftily left almost in their raw states for you to unleash your artistic brilliance upon.
The great outdoors
Placed amidst the tree-dotted Regent's Canal, which leads on to the expansive Victoria Park and then to the relatively petite London Fields; this area offers up plenty for the outdoor enthusiast to expend some energy and breathe in the green air.
First on the list is the incredible London Fields Lido, which offers swimmers the only heated 50 metre Olympic outdoor swimming pool in London. Hugely popular in the summer months when it’s tricky to find a gap in the traffic to dive in and join the rows of swimmers, the winter months are much less crowded though not for the faint of heart or those lacking a good wetsuit.
The possibilities for some active fun in Victoria Park are only as limited as the imagination of the park go-er. Depending on your weapon of choice, Victoria Park offers over 86.18 hectares of well paved path or greenery to be enjoyed by running shoe, rollerblade or bicycle. For those feeling really brave, the skatepark invites local skateboarders, BMXers and scooter-riders to carve the concrete waves of the skate bowl.
Adjoining Regent's Canal is the perfect path for a Sunday stroll. Bring a bag of bread along and make friends with the local ducks and swans. Or, simply sit and relax as the canal boats slowly pass by, leaving the aroma of interior wood fireplaces behind them. Those in the cultural know can find an array of street art pieces sprayed on the archaic brickwork under the canal bridges, where Sweet Toof, Mighty Monkey and Richard Birdseed have left their mark.
Bars and pubs
Now that the ‘hipsters’ have well and truly migrated North and East of Shoreditch, London Fields is on the radar as one of the coolest spots to spend the evening sipping craft ale and twirling moustaches.
Soak up a serving of history with your beer at the 300 year old Cat & Mutton in London Fields. Historically, the pub served thirsty agricultural workers who stopped on their merry way to Smithfield Market for a tipple. In modern history, the venue was one of the frontrunners in bringing trendy trade to the area over the past five years. Patrons can expect an inventive food menu, extensive drink options and a pumping DJ on weekends.
Sitting on the edge of De Beauvoir town, Dukes Que and Brew, an 18th century pub famous for its ribs and house-brewed craft beer, is a sure winner for any bar-hopper in East London. The Beavertown Brewery was originally on-site but has since moved to a larger space in Tottenham Hale. Customers generally pair up their craft beers with the traditional, wood-smoked barbeque fare that dominates the food menu. For those hankering for something with less hop, the pub also presents a well rounded cocktail menu too.
For something a little less historical and a bit more hip, head to Netil Market to check out ºPlato (Degrees Plato - a brewing term mostly used in Eastern Europe for measuring the sugar density of unfermented beer). Canadian brewer, Adam Khedheri, set up shop there earlier this summer to bring his brand of home brewing supplies to the people of London Fields. Naturally while handing out well tested advice, he served up some of his own DIY pints, harking back to his native West Coast flavours - very hoppy and high in alcohol volume.
Now, with a stall every Saturday and a weekday license in the pipeline, the locals are lapping up his characteristic IPAs and Stouts. So while he’s enjoyed just throwing whatever he likes in the pot and getting a different result every time, he’s taking the leap to become a commercial establishment so we can all share in the beauty of his big, badass brews.
Off Broadway, a bar inspired by New York Bar ‘Mickey’s Blue Room’, opened in 2008 to offer a slice of the social scene from across the Atlantic. It is now known as one of the best cocktail bars in the London Fields area, with a blend of contemporary and old fashion mixes on the menu. The family owned business has planted its roots in Hackney over the past 40 years, taking special pride in serving the local Hackney crowd with its renowned expert cocktail concoctions.
Travel the world through a beer pint at The Dove pub in Hackney. The venue proffers a considerable menu of global beers including Belgian, real ales, ciders and British micro-craft beers - enthusiasts can also spend an evening brushing up on the art of Belgian beer tasting thanks to skilled staff for £30 a pop. If the tummies grumbling, combine that pint with a plate of traditional pub fare in the form of the very popular and ‘legendary’ Sunday lunch at this local.