London writer and photographer, Emily Luxton, has a great blog about her East London, England neighborhood and her travels (here she is in Marrakesh). Since East London is a hip area filled with street art, ethnic food and recently many London Olympics events, I’m excited to have her share a local’s perspective.
OVERVIEW: I live in Whitechapel (Jack the Ripper’s killing ground!), a great area of East London; vibrant and eclectic with a really strong art scene. There’s a great mix of cultures and ethnic food places, loads of awesome pop-up markets and vintage fairs, and it’s a hot spot for street art — there’s a very old Banksy right up the road from me and loads of Malarky’s work all over the place.
EAT: Beigel Bake
This is the perfect snack-stop if you’re exploring the Brick Lane and Hoxton street art, or hitting the vintage markets. Visit on a Sunday when Brick Lane Market is on, and you can enjoy your bagel to the sounds of jazz coming from the record-stall across the street.Bagels are pulled fresh from the oven all day and night in this 24-hour bakery, and then crammed with your choice of filling. I recommend the hot salt beef (above); a moist wedge is carved from the slab and topped with mustard and gherkins.
SHOP: Brick Lane Bookshop
Brick Lane Bookshop is a wonderfully old fashioned bookshop with a great range for its tiny size – you can find everything from Wordsworth Classics to graphic novels here. They have a fantastic travel section, as well as a huge stack of books on local history which is full of fascinating tales of local legend Jack the Ripper.
DRINK: Lounge Lover
How better to relax after an afternoon shopping and exploring East London’s street-art scene than with cocktails and Japanese Tapas? Lounge Lover is a ridiculously cool cocktail bar that looks like a very glamorous flea market has been set up in somebody’s empty garage. The eclectic vintage décor is very fitting with the East London vibe; all exposed brickwork, mismatched chandeliers and antique furnishings. It’s pricey and a little pretentious, but I love the incredible cocktail menu. Try the Moulin Rouge (passion fruit puree with Disaronno Amaretto and Vodka).
I adore Old Spitalfields Market and spend hours there on weekends browsing for beautiful vintage and handmade goods – I especially love the second-hand Penguin Classics stall. The duck-egg blue boutiques around the edge of the market are home to some gorgeous permanent stores, and my favourite is Inspitalfields. Loosely termed a gift shop, Inspitalfields is stuffed with gorgeous stationary, antique furniture and beautiful home-ware, as well as loads of humorous gifts like the Rap Lyric Translation book. Don’t start browsing unless you have time to look at everything – this shop is addictive! Decoration that incorporates old maps is my big passion right now, and they have a great collection at Inspitalfields, from framed prints to stone coasters.
DRINK: Casa Blue
If Lounge Lover is full or feeling too high-brow, I like to relax over a cocktail in Casa Blue among the coloured fairy lights, hookah pipes and scented candles. There is nowhere more chilled-out than this tiny bar, crammed full of rickety tables, scruffy sofas and low-hanging lanterns. This is a beautifully kitsch bar with an Eastern vibe, where a small, crowded space really is cozy. I love to share the enormous Moroccan platter with friends, followed by cherry mojitos and maybe a little shisha. But be careful approaching the toilets after a few drinks – they are squeezed into a cupboard-sized space down some very steep stairs with a ceiling so low even I have to watch my head!