Visit London Blog » east london Enjoy the very best of London Thu, 28 Aug 2014 11:51:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 48 Hour Gay Guide to East London Wed, 09 Apr 2014 09:00:16 +0000 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.

Shoreditch grafitti


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.

Columbia Road


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.

TRAVELS OF ADAM focuses on the most hip and cool things to do around the world. Follow Adam on Instagram and Pinterest to discover his latest cool travel finds.

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Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park: A Sneak Preview of the Aquatics Centre Wed, 26 Feb 2014 11:00:01 +0000 Swim at the Aquatics Centre Learn to dive from the platforms See views of the Olympic Stadium The Aquatics Centre Tom Daley training at the Aquatics Centre ArcelorMittal Orbit and the Olympic Stadium

Eighteen months after the end of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Zaha Hadid-designed Aquatics Centre has grown up and lost its water wings (the temporary seating added for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games), and it’s all set to open on Saturday. We were given a sneak preview inside; and here’s what to expect.

World-class Pools

The revamped Aquatics Centre offers three pools: the Competition pool for competent swimmers, the Training pool for fun and family, and the Diving pool for all you budding Tom Daleys.

The Competition pool is the standout feature. It’s 50m long with 10 lanes, and has a moveable floor (it’s set at 3m in depth during competitions for maximum speed) and booms, enabling it to be split up and used for the likes of water polo matches.

Set at a toasty 28.5 degrees Celsius, the Training pool is a great place for kids to have fun while learning the ropes. At weekends and during school holidays it’s equipped with a floating inflatable assault course of jumps and climbs. The 50m pool also features moveable flooring so it’s a safe and comfortable place to learn.

The Diving pool is unsurprisingly the facility of choice for Tom Daley, who you may be lucky enough to see training here. Boasting platforms 1m to 10m high and pairs of springboards measuring from 1m to 3m, this is the perfect place for mastering the acrobatic sport – this pool will be used solely for diving lessons and courses.

This pool will have the world’s eyes on it once more during the third leg of the FINA Diving World Series, which sees the best divers battle it out for the prestigious title of World Series champion in April.

Stunning Visuals

The glass sides allow privileged views of the ArcelorMittal Orbit and the Olympic Stadium from the pools and stands – there are 2,500 seats here, with an extra 1,000 available during major competitions.

The venue itself, with its wave-like roof, is already iconic; and having lost its temporary seating its beautiful flowing curves are now uninhibited. Visitors just wishing to see inside can explore the various facilities on tours available from this weekend onwards.

Have Fun, Learn and Keep Fit

As well as instructed diving lessons, you can take part in courses for water polo, synchronised swimming, triathlon and sub aqua diving as well as book personal swimming tuition. Fitness fanatics who prefer to stay dry can make use of the fully equipped gym.

Although booking is recommended – and essential for most lessons and courses – you can just turn up on the day for a swim. Pre-booking is, however, required for a swim during the opening weekend.

Why Should I Visit?

It’s not often you get the chance to swim in the wake of the world’s best at the most iconic of aquatics centres. Relive moments from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, all at a price competitive to other London leisure centres – an adult ticket costs from £4.50, children’s tickets are a snip at £2 upwards, while members can make use of discounted rates.

The Aquatics Centre is also just a few steps from other Olympic Venues: The Olympic Stadium, the Lee Valley VeloPark, the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre and the Copper Box Arena – the latter is already open to the public, while the others are opening soon. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as a whole is being revitalised with open spaces, waterways and gardens to discover.

Another of East London’s major attractions, Westfield Stratford City, is also nearby. Here you can spend a few pounds in the shops after working off a few pounds in the pool.

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London Video of the Week: East London’s Free Spirit by The New York Times Fri, 21 Jun 2013 15:38:26 +0000

This New York Times video highlights the fashion hub around Brick Lane in East London. Some of the capital’s most fashionable people hang out here, and you’ll find an amazing range of independent and vintage clothes stores where you can perfect the East London look.

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London Video of the Week: Hackney Markets by Destination Hackney Fri, 24 May 2013 14:17:22 +0000

Hackney in East London has an array of vibrant street markets selling food and products from all over the world. The video features three of Hackney’s best markets: Broadway, Ridley Road and Chatsworth Road.

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Visiting the Past: London’s Original Chinatown Fri, 08 Feb 2013 11:45:55 +0000

This weekend, the largest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of Asia take place in and around London’s Chinatown in Soho. But did you know that London’s original Chinatown was in East London?

Limehouse was the site of a short-lived porcelain factory founded by George Wilson in 1746. It was one of many attempts to make a British version of the beautiful, white ceramic that was flooding into London from the Far East. Limehouse porcelain  looked Chinese but was made in East London. You can see examples of this porcelain at the Museum of London.

One hundred years later, a small community of Chinese sailors settled at Limehouse Causeway. This was one of two small, East End Chinese communities. The other was in Pennyfields in Poplar, where Chinese sailors from Shanghai had settled. Virtually all were single men, some of whom married British women.

By 1914, there were around 30 businesses and 300 people living in these small East End communities. Limehouse and Pennyfields became known as Chinatown, and many of its inhabitants made a living by running laundries.

During the Second World War, the Docklands area, including Chinatown, was badly damaged and many Chinese people moved out. In the 1950s, the market for Chinese food grew and restaurants and stalls began to spring up in Gerrard Street and Lisle Street. This was the start of the Chinatown we know today in Soho.

Find out more about Chinatown’s history or discover today’s Chinatown in Soho

Museum of London

Guest post by the Museum of London as part of our brand new Visiting the Past blog series. More fascinating facts about London’s history from the Museum of London next week!

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London’s Lost Chinatown: Last Tuesdays at RIBA Mon, 12 Nov 2012 14:00:27 +0000

The last Tuesday of every month is open house night at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Each month, the RIBA’s 66 Portland Place headquarters puts on a range of talks, tours, exhibitions and film screenings around a single topic.

October’s event, City Stories!, focused on great cities and their hidden histories, and included a fascinating talk by Dr Yat Ming Loo on London’s first Chinatown.

From the mid-nineteenth century Chinese seamen from Canton and Shanghai settled close to Limehouse Docks, with communities emerging on Limehouse Causeway, Pennyfields and Amoy Place.

Between the 1890s and 1920s the area become notorious as a place of gambling, opium dens and evocative smells – the legend of Fu Manchu originated here. However, the reality was quite different, with a very familiar London street scene greeting those who were curious, albeit with clinics, shops and boarding houses run by the Chinese.

The Blitz and various slum clearance projects before and after the Second World War saw the end of London’s first Chinatown, and there is little physical trace left today.

In the 1940s and 50s many families moved to the West End to capitalise on the growing demand for Chinese food, laying the foundations for London’s present day Chinatown.

Yat Ming Loo’s upcoming book “Architecture and Urban Form in Kuala Lumpur: Race and Chinese Spaces in a Postcolonial City” will be published in April 2013.

The next “Last Tuesdays” event on 27 November, Colour Me Vertical, will explore colour, light and architecture. Admission is free.

Follow @RIBA on twitter for #LastTuesdays updates, or visit for more information.

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London Video of the Week: The Emirates Airline (London Cable Car) Fri, 29 Jun 2012 13:00:42 +0000

The Emirates Airline has made its maiden voyage across the Thames connecting ExCeL London to The O2 in 5 minutes. Check our the great views of East London and the Olympic Park.

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Bandstand Busking in Shoreditch Wed, 07 Dec 2011 14:34:22 +0000

Despite the Baltic conditions last Sunday, the Victorian bandstand in Arnold Circus, E2 was surrounded by music lovers assembled for the last Bandstand Busking gig of the year.

Founded in 2008, Bandstand Busking hopes to breathe new life into London’s many under-used bandstands, by enticing established and up-and-coming bands to perform free mini gigs. Acts have included Guillemots, She Keeps Bees and Wild Beasts at venues ranging from Lincoln’s Inn Fields to Hampstead Heath.

Forest Fire and Lulu & The Lampshades rocked the bandstand on Sunday, making good use of the excellent acoustics. Those Victorians knew what they were doing.

For more information and to find out about gigs in 2012 visit the Bandstand Busking website or follow them on twitter @bandstandbusks

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An Insider’s Guide to Columbia Road Flower Market this Christmas Tue, 22 Nov 2011 16:34:53 +0000

We asked Independent Shoreditch for some highlights and advice on how to get the best from Columbia Road flower market this Christmas:

1) Closing time bargains. Although you – quite literally – get the pick of the bunch when the market opens at 8am, swoop in at 3pm for the best bargains. The louder the barrow boys shout, the better the deals.

2) Independent inspiration. There’s a total absence of high street chains on Columbia Road, giving your Christmas gifts the independent edge. Try Nelly Duff for art, Vintage Heaven for antiques, and Treacle for as many cakes as you can carry.

3) Christmas trees to make the neighbours blush. The market is a brilliant place to pick up a Christmas tree because of the variety on offer, from tiny potted trees to Trafalgar Square-worthy wonders. Check your ceiling height before you leave home.

4) Mouth-watering Sunday lunch. If you get peckish, try either Brawn or The Royal Oak. Brawn offers strictly seasonal fare, with as much as possible coming from local suppliers, while The Royal Oak still carries some kudos from its days as an early-morning watering hole for the market’s traders.

5) Strong arm tactics. All the plants and presents can add up. Be prepared to flex your arm muscles on the way home if you’ve over-committed yourself. Or alternatively, hope that Santa has also done his shopping on Columbia Road.

Columbia Road flower market and shops are open from 8am until about 3pm every Sunday. The shops will also be opening late every Wednesday in the run up to Christmas, on 30 November and 7, 14 and 21 of December, accompanied by festivities, seasonal food and live music.


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Dominica in London: Island to Island at the Redbridge Museum Fri, 07 Oct 2011 09:00:56 +0000 Photo by Tim Smith of Roseau's former post office on the shore front in Dominica. The building now houses the tourist information office and the Dominica Museum Photo by Tim Smith of Wade Bells who lived in Ladbroke Grove in London during the 1960s and has now retired to Dominica Photo by Tim Smith taken at a gathering to celebrate the feast of St Isidore at the Ilford Sports Club in Ilford Photo by Derek Smith - Collecting water at a stand pipe in Barbados Photo by Tim Smith - Dancing to Soca at Bradford Carnival, a West Indian style street carnival around the Manchester Road area Photo by Tim Smith - a family get together after Sunday Church in Forest Gate

The Caribbean is being well represented in London at the moment. Rihanna’s in town (both in real life, and in waxwork), it’s Black History Month, and there’s this new exhibition of photos from the Caribbean at the Redbridge Museum.

So, if you’re looking for a slice of Dominica in London, Island to Island: Dominica, Barbados and Britain is the show for you.

Island to Island: Dominica, Barbados and Britain is a collection of photographs exploring the links between East London and the Caribbean at the Redbridge Museum. The photos are complemented by stories of migration and experiences of living on the islands of Dominica and Barbados, and in Britain.

Photographer Tim Smith, who spent his childhood in Barbados and Dominica, shares his collection of photographs featuring the Dominican community in East London and Bradford and images taken on the two islands.  There are also photographs by Tim’s father, Derek Smith, showing everyday life on the islands during the 1960s.

One image features 76-year-old Wade Bells outside a fish and rum shop in Wesley, Dominica. Wade lived in Ladbroke Grove in London during the 1960s and has now retired to Dominica. 

The museum is also holding Caribbean-themed activities during October half term week.  Young visitors can enjoy stories and songs about carnival in the Caribbean on 25 October or join an arts and crafts session to make your own mini Caribbean island on 26 October.

Island to Island is at the Redbridge Museum until 31 December. Entrance is free. Visit to find out more.

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