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Stratford area guide

Explore London's newest hospitality hotspot, and discover things to do, restaurants and bars in E20

© Westfield
Westfield Stratford City

East London's newest revamped postcode has become a bustling center of activity following the glory days of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. With newly built restaurants and bars amongst the traditional Stratford haunts, Westfield Stratford City, one of Europe's biggest shopping centres, and the former Olympic venues now open to the public, the area provides a fantastic range of shopping, drinking, dining and fitness activities. Stratford is becoming a new go-to destination in the capital.

What are your favourite Stratford hangouts? Let us know in the comments.

Stratford highlights

Attractions

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

So what did we get for our £8.77bn? In addition to an expectation-busting Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012, there's the small matter of those remaining buildings and all that parkland. Officially known as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the last of E20's green acres are now open to the public. The immaculate parklands to the north launched in summer 2013, their paths and waterways enhanced by the new Timber Lodge with its cafe. Next came the Zaha Hadid-designed Aquatics Centre (opened in March 2014; £3.50-£4.50 adults, £2-£2.50 concs), which is open for public swimming and diving sessions, followed by the VeloPark, home to road, track, BMX and mountain biking, and the southern section of the park. The latter comprises all the remaining parkland, including children's play areas, four walking trails, a couple of dozen public artworks, plus the attraction of ascending the ArcelorMittal Orbit. The Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre (www.visitleevalley.org.uk/hockeytennis) opened in May 2014, with two superfast hockey pitches and ten tennis courts (four indoor, six outdoor) – you can just turn up and play, although it might be advisable to book ahead. All that remains is the Olympic Stadium, which is currently being retooled (including the addition of a roof over the seats). It is due to reopen for the Rugby World Cup in 2015, before West Ham take up permanent residence in 2016. Further ahead, the venue will host the 2017 IAAF World Championships and 2017 IPC World Athlet

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Shopping

Westfield Stratford City

The 'city within a city', Westfield's £1.45 billion retail behemoth snakes through the Olympic site, with 300 retail units – the cornerstones of which are gigantic versions of High Street brands John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose – 70 restaurants, bars and cafés, and a 17-screen digital cinema. So far, mega-mall, but Westfield Stratford City has attempted to be lead a little by its east London neighbours.

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Theatre

Theatre Royal Stratford East

A community theatre with many shows written, directed and performed by black or Asian artists, Theatre Royal is a great cultural hit in ethnically diverse Stratford. Musicals are big here – whether about hip hop or the Windrush generation. Kinks frontman Ray Davies penned the hit ‘Come Dancing’ for Theatre Royal Stratford East, while homegrown success ‘The Harder They Come’ made a West End transfer.

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Things to do

ArcelorMittal Orbit

The curly-wurly red scaffolding tower lords it over the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park from its position right alongside the Olympic Stadium. Designed by the artist Anish Kapoor and structural engineer Cecil Balmond, it stands 114.5m (376ft) tall – with lifts (and a 455-step staircase) up to two platforms from which you take in the interesting, if not entirely spectacular, view ­– The Shard, St Paul’s and the Wembley arches are all very much on the skyline. 

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Comments

1 comments
Yvette E
Yvette E

Friendly, independent cafes in Stratford include The Sawmill and Cafe Lympic in West Ham Lane and Cafe Mondo in the Grove, next to the Library. Brilliant fish and chips from Ifratelli on West Ham Lane. Best curries ( and much cheaper than Brick Lane prices) at The Spice Inn and The Hemalaya.