I have always been amazed by how much green space there is in the most unlikely parts of London. Cycle through chaotic Tech City at Old Street Roundabout, with angry drivers honking their horns while you choke on their exhaust fumes, and it’s hard to believe you’re just a five-minute pedal from Hoxton Square. Thought to be one of the oldest squares in the capital, this grassy patch of land is an oasis of calm, perfect for summertime reading and lazy picnicking – that is, of course, when the weather plays ball.
The once-industrial surrounding area is now home to a media and arts-focused community, a bellyful of independent restaurants as well as being a place to be seen if you’re a Deliveroo driver (see south-west corner of the square on any given day). Its proximity to the City means that denim-clad graphic designers and pinstripe-suit-wearing Cityboys are often spotted lunching together in perfect harmony.
Hackney Council has been working to reinvigorate the square – which is perhaps a little overshadowed by the bright lights of sometimes-stifling Shoreditch – with a choc-a-block calendar of events including the annual Hackney Village Fayre. With plenty of live music, and a host of bars serving stiff sharpeners to kick off your night and strong nightcaps to end it, it’s a location for year-round revelry and relaxation.
A bloody good cocktail at Happiness Forgets. As its slogan says, ‘Great cocktails. No wallies.’ What could be nicer?
Real ale by the pint with authentic East End pub vibes at the Prince Arthur on Brunswick Place.
Grab a coffee with fellow bike nerds at impossibly Instagramable HEX cycle café, round the corner on Drysdale Street.
Anything on the roof of the utterly unpretentious Red Lion Pub, with its views of pure urban paradise.
Big sharing cuts of organic free-range meat at Hill & Szrok Public House, towards Old Street. It’s a boozer in the front, restaurant in the back, and don’t miss the homemade ketchup – it’ll make you want to swap out the Heinz at home.
Barbecue-filled buns at Smokey Tails, a recent addition to the square’s food community. A perfect pre-gig stomach liner.
Lunch on the terrace at 8 Hoxton Square. It’s a sun trap with a dizzyingly good wine list for any budget. With its Mediterranean-inspired menu, you’ll find yourself spending all day here scoffing brunch, lunch and dinner.
Have a random night out at Troy. There are weekly open-mic nights and jazz-funk jam sessions, plus jerk chicken.
Take an aerial course (with ropes and trapeze), just off the square at the National Centre for Circus Arts. Ideal for relaxing, exercising or just adding something to your list of skills after flame-throwing.
Play tennis in nearby Aske Gardens. Wimbledon might be over, but this court is the perfect place to practise your serve.
A motorbike from the Bike Shed. And while you’re there get a slick new do at the barbershop, before you speed off into the night like the sort of cool type Michelle Pfeiffer would make eyes at.
Something for your bonce from impossible-to-read hat shop CA4LA. This is the cool Japanese brand’s only London post and, in case you were wondering, the name is pronounced ‘Ka-shi-la’, which is Japanese for ‘head’.
If you only do one thing…
See a gig at the recently refurbished Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen. In between scores of indie hopefuls, now and again the venue lands bigger acts, scaling down for their warm-up shows.
By Natalia Ribbe, who says be there or be a total square.
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