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A guest blog post by Adam Groffman, author of travel blog Travels of Adam
London’s East End is one of the capital’s coolest neighborhoods. A longtime working class area, East London is now home to some of the city’s best restaurants and bars. And while London’s gay scene is traditionally in Soho, most hipsters have moved further afield to Shoreditch and Hackney. Here’s our guide to a fun weekend in East London, including gay nightlife and tourist attractions:
Stay at The Boundary Hotel
A former Victorian warehouse, Shoreditch’s Boundary Hotel is a great place to stay if you’re visiting on a romantic weekend as it has a rooftop restaurant and bar, as well as a boutique style which make the place seem homely yet elegant. Rooms from £200 per night.
A Taste of the East
Rather than splurging on a meal at the rooftop bar in the hotel, visit the popular Indian restaurant across the street Dishoom. The garden and laid-back style make it a great place to chill out before heading out for the night.
Cocktails at Loungelover
For a Friday night nightcap, take a short stroll to the trendy Loungelover bar, which has won countless awards for its menu as well as its design. Every room is luxuriously decorated.
Enjoy a food tour
To get a taste of East London, skip breakfast at the hotel and instead make your way to Spitalfields Market. There, at 10am, the East End Food Tour begins. At £59, the walking food tour includes enough food to cover both breakfast and lunch taking in some of East London’s best eateries. It also covers Brick Lane and a bit of history about Jack the Ripper. On a budget? Free Tours by Foot offer pay-what-you-like food and history tours of the East End.
Vintage shopping at Broadway Market
Broadway Market takes place at the foot of London Fields park every Saturday. It’s basically a food market, though some of the shops along the street include bookstores and vintage shops. If you want to visit an authentic London pub, enjoy a pint at The Cat & Mutton.
Dining out in Shoreditch
After a long day of walking through East London, a relaxed dinner near Shoreditch High Street is in order. Keep an eye out for one of the food trucks to grab a light snack. Across the street from Shoreditch Box Park on the High Street is a canopied food hall (inside you’ll want to try Tulum Tacos or Yalla Yalla). Across the street is the trendy Hoi Polloi restaurant inside ACE Hotel. They’ve got a selection of small food plates and great cocktails to go with them.
Gay clubs in East London
For a proper night out, there are a few great options for gay clubs in East London. Dalston Superstore is a classic. Check their website for a calendar of events. East Bloc is where all the indie boys and girls go — so you’ll be sure to get some good music and fun nights there. But if you’re after a more British setting, go to the George & Dragon pub on Hackney Street for a sample of the Shoreditch hipster scene.
Brick Lane and Columbia Road Markets
Sunday is arguably the best day to be hanging out in East London. With the Columbia Road Flower Market in Hackney and the massive Brick Lane market, there are more than enough things to do and see. Here you’ll find vendors selling everything from street food to vintage clothing.
Art gallery in a restaurant basement
To top off the weekend, make your way to the trendy Tramshed Restaurant on Rivington Street. In the basement is a small gallery space featuring a wide range of artists — not just established ones, but local up-and-coming ones as well.