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London for Londoners: the highs and lows of 15 London boroughs

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At the risk of stating the obvious, London is a pretty big place. We know that, and you know that. Even for born-and-bred Londoners, the city can seem overwhelming, which is why we've put together an essential city guide for London – not for lost-looking tourists in search of Harrods, but for the people who actually live here. In 'London for Londoners', we've picked out the best things to do, places to eat, drink and shop in each London borough, as well as some handy stats on house prices, population size and other useful information for all those who enjoy crunching the numbers. To get a taste of the book, here are our highs and lows of London's inner city boroughs:

Camden

 

HIGHS:

Eurostar on your doorstop

Hampstead Heath

Live music

LOWS:

Celebrity overkill

Tourist hell

 
City of London

© Britta Jaschinski

 

HIGHS:

No more commuting - you're already there

Bars and clubs

History - this is the original London

Few burglaries

LOWS:

Antisocial drinking during the week

Lack of independent shops

Very quiet at weekends


Greenwich

 

HIGHS:

Ancient woods

Entertainment on the Peninsula

Wide river, big skies

World Heritage site

LOWS:

Lack of useful river crossings

Mostly feels cut off from central London

Pockets of deprivation


Hackney

©Olivia Rutherford

 

HIGHS:

Bike culture

Bars and clubs

Independent shops

Turskish ocakbasi restaurants

Overground rail

LOWS:

Overdevelopment of Shoreditch

Still lots of inner-city problems

Canal path packed at weekends


Hammersmith & Fulham

 

HIGHS:

The massive Westfield London - shoppers' paradise

Maggie's West London at Charing Cross Hospital - top-class cancer support

Football at Chelsea, Fulham and QPR

Posh sports! Anyone for croquet?

Historic riverside pubs

Gigs galore

LOWS:

King Street remains grotty and unappealing

The massive Westfield London - shopping refusenik purgatory

Low on green space

Eternal traffic


Haringey

 

HIGHS:

Ally Pally

Craft breweries

Crouch End eating

Football

Lee Valley

Multicultural shopping

Great views

 

LOWS:

Finsbury Park station tunnels

Lack of nightlife

Late-night drunks on the N29 night bus

Poverty

Tottenham gang culture

Tottenham Hale gyratory


Islington

© Heloise Bergman

 

HIGHS:

Artisanal food shops

Great restaurants

Close to the city

Cycle routes

LOWS:

The A1 and Archway roundabout

Lack of large green spaces

Rowdy pubs in Angel


Kensington & Chelsea

© Victoria & Albert Museum

 

HIGHS:

Kensington Gardens, especially the Diana Memorial Playground

Chelsea pensioners in their scarlet uniforms

Notting Hill Carnival if you're in the party mood

Some of the best museums in the world

Designer shopping

Very central

LOWS:

Disappointed tourists looking for the 'real' Notting Hill

Those pretty squares in Notting Hill are private

Notting Hill Carnival if you're not in the party mood

High prices - and not just the homes

Clubs with no-jeans dress codes


Lambeth

© Dan Wilton

 

HIGHS:

Streatham High Road's international food shops

Brixton Village street food

West Norwood's community feel

South Bank culture

Brixton nightlife

LOWS:

Crime

Clapham High Street nightlife

Streatham High Road pollution


Lewisham

Tomline43/Flickr

 

HIGHS:

Family-friendly cafés, especially in Brockley and Hither Green

Good connections into town

Creative types. Pubs host local TV comedians trying out new material

The views from One Tree Hill and Horniman Gardens

 

LOWS:

Traffic galore on the A2, A21, South Circular, and other major thoroughfares

Redevelopment at Lewisham roundabout causing chaos

Little happening south of Catford


Newham

Martin Deutsch

 

HIGHS:

Fun ways to travel: air, cable car, elevated rail and river

Olympic facilities now available for local use

High-speed transport links

Watersports

LOWS:

Developers with a warped sense of 'affordable'

The Royal Docks can be bleak and deserted

One of the most deprived English boroughs

Post-industrial wasteland persists

The soul-sapping A13

Beckton


Southwark

© Britta Jaschinski

 

HIGHS:

World-class theatres and galleries

Good schools

Well-stocked food markets

LOWS:

No tube in many parts

Elephant & Castle is one big building site

Sweeping gentrification is pushing many residents out


Tower Hamlets

 

 

 

HIGHS:

Traces of the old East End

Canary Wharf's public spaces

Chic and cheap eats

Vintage shopping

Cultural mix

LOWS:

Pockets of bleakness and real poverty

Blackwall Tunnel approach road

The sterilisation of Spitalfields

Curry hawkers on Brick Lane


Wandsworth

Rob Greig

 

HIGHS:

Good schools

Low council tax

Parks, heaths, commons and becs

Tooting's curry corridor

LOWS:

Nowhere to park

Pricey

Riverside colonised by luxury developments

Too many 4x4s


Westminster

© Indusfoto Ltd, courtesy Royal Parks

 

HIGHS:

As central as it gets

World-beating shopping

World-beating galleries

Royal Parks

LOWS:

Too central for some

Huge inequality within the borough

'London for Londoners' is out now, buy it here.

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