There's plenty to heart in Hackney, where high art and edgy innovation meet. There are flavours to savour from its lip-smacking restaurants, not to mention world-class coffees (Square Mile coffee beans, anyone?). Quirky, scruffy, sleek or hip – the area's bars and pubs suit whatever taste you're packing, as do its diversions (you're seriously spoilt for things to do). And if money's still burning a hole, Hackney's shops and markets sell temptation by the truckload, from vintage fabrics and designer must-haves to rare meats and artisanal bread.
RECOMMENDED: London by area
The best bits of Hackney
11 reasons to go to Mentmore Terrace, E8
While tourists head in droves to bustling Broadway Market, there is a startlingly calm and much quirkier east London enclave hidden just a back road away. Mentmore Terrace was once an unassuming row of untended archways that was home to numerous squats in the ’70s and ’80s. But now, thanks to the rumbling march of gentrification, it’s a thriving hub of eateries, shops and bars. Despite being home to London Fields station and just a stone’s throw from Mare Street, Mentmore Terrace has managed to avoid becoming part of the beaten track. And, what’s more, it’s essentially a bite-sized E8. Why travel the length and breadth of Hackney when it has all the cool of Clapton, the charm of Stokey and the variety of Dalston? This little cobbled terrace is home to everything from cafés to craft breweries plus, of course, a handful of your quintessential Hackney newbuilds. It really does cover all bases: if you want mid-century modern furniture there’s a dealer, if you’re after hard-to-find vinyl there’s a remarkably good record shop, if you want to dance all night to live grime, you can. It’s all here, in a Victorian viaduct, with its own Overground station and everything. So let the avocado-on-toast brigade head to London Fields’s main drag while you take a stroll through this charmingly chill slice of east. Drink this A photo posted by Toni Cundy (@tonicundy) on Nov 26, 2016 at 6:49am PST Sip on one of a number of limited-run lagers at the London Fields Brewery taproom
12 reasons to go to Shacklewell Lane in Hackney, E8
If Shacklewell lane feels like less of a lane and more of a self-contained hamlet, it’s probably because that’s how it began life back in the fifteenth century.There were natural springs (or ‘wells’) in the area, and this Hackney street is named after these. There are no wells around nowadays, but it has a wealth of other amenities such as a cinema, eateries, a yoga studio and a tree-lined green where you can head with a coffee or sandwich for some peace. And because you’re sufficiently far from the hugely popular, hugely busy Kingsland High Street, you’re even likely to find a bar with a spare seat at any given time. You heard me right: you’re in east London, but you have room to breathe. Wedged neatly between Rectory Road, Dalston Kingsland and Hackney Downs stations, Shacklewell Lane brings together people from the multicultural melting pot of Dalston with young parent types of Stoke Newington and artists from Hackney. The official vibe is easy-going: this is the kind of place you go to find homemade houmous at cosy café Mouse & de Lotz, or discover up-and-coming bands in the backroom of The Shacklewell Arms, followed by a stroll to Akin Supermarket to ease the hangover with their selection of Turkish biscuits. What’s more, Shacklewell Lane is free of chains – except for a fancy Nando’s on its Dalston corner – so offers a bevy of unique experiences. All you have to do is discover them. Drink this A photo posted by Cheechee (@blahdiduh) on Jun 19, 2016 at 5:25am
14 reasons to go to Mare Street in Hackney, E8
Mare Street swoops through the hipster heartlands of London Fields, from Clapton to Cambridge Heath. But, while bars and boutiques might have claimed nearby Stoke Newington High Street and Kingsland Road, Mare Street is still full of actually useful things. Cheap clothing stores and supermarkets still outnumber craft beer pubs and artisan restaurants, and its pedestrianised bit feels more like a suburban town centre than a trendy urban borough. In the decades since the ’40s, the road’s been home to Afro-Caribbean, Turkish and Vietnamese communities. And, thanks to the London College of Fashion campus, there’s always an arty crowd catwalking through the area, although they’ve recently been joined by glossier fashion types, popping into Hackney Central’s new designer outlets. It’s not the first time Mare Street’s attracted people with cash to splash. In the 1600s, it was a favourite spot for holidaying aristocrats who’d indulge in shuffleboard, bowling and watching freak shows in the pub after a spot of hunting. There are still signs of some of its former architectural glory along the street: just check out number 195 for some serious Doric column shit. Mare Street is a road where you can experience London’s history, sip a nice cocktail and do your supermarket shop for less than a tenner. It’s an east London essential. Eat this A photo posted by Rita's (@ritasdining) on May 13, 2016 at 10:11am PDT Chicken wings, chargrilled lamb and bone-marrow hash browns at
15 reasons to go to Chatsworth Road, E5
Chatsworth road smells amazing. Thanks to the fresh bread, exotic flowers, food stalls and reassuringly expensive scented candles all over the place, the whole thoroughfare is an olfactory marvel. It’s a feast for the eyes and tastebuds too. A long residential strip running through Homerton, Chatsworth Road is both a functional, neighbourhood high street and a genuinely great destination full of independent shops, excellent eateries and good-looking people. Originally intended to cater for life’s practicalities, it was one of the first planned high streets in London. Some sparky Victorians turned fields near a growing suburb into a pathway of amenities for the locals, including a butcher, some greengrocers and a loo (which still stands today as Hackney’s only free unisex public toilet). But hey, times change, gentrification happens, and now there’s a dog-grooming parlour. But there’s also a string of nice cafés, a friendly family crowd and a weekly food market that’s much better than the nearby tourist trap of Broadway Market. So whether you’re a Hackney local or a Chatsworth newbie, here’s where to find a great butcher, some wonderful bakers and a whole gang of scented-candlestickmakers. Eat this A photo posted by MAX CHATER LTD (@maxchater) on Mar 3, 2016 at 6:42am PST Mountains of Mediterranean food at Pivaz where the portions are as big as the Greek deficit. It’s the perfect place for a boisterous weekend brunch or a romantic evening meal. Anything
Restaurants in Hackney
Things to do in Hackney
For east London’s fashionably attired food-lovers, there's no better Saturday destination than Broadway Market. Quaint cafés, pubs and indie music shops line the street, but the real star here is the market. The food-loving hipster's weekend hangout of choice, Broadway Market is as much about seeking out quality food as it is about just letting your hair down and soaking up the vibe – with a freshly grilled burger (from Northfield Farm) in one hand and a chilled Vietnamese coffee (from Ca Phe VN) in the other. Stalls range from the classic (sweet seasonal cupcakes from Violet) to the exotic (The Arabica Food & Spice Company do a mouthwatering range of mèze, as well as Damascene falafel wraps). Spices, cheeses, breads, rare-breed meat, luscious cakes and olives are all present – it's hard to imagine the need to go anywhere else for your weekly food shop. The market is also popular for its vintage and new designer threads, old Vogue patterns, buttons, Ladybird books, flowers and crafts. The permanent shops and eateries are worth popping into as well – look out for the Broadway Bookshop, coffee house Climpson & Sons, haberdashery store Fabrications and florist Rebel Rebel. The neighbouring Netil Market is just around the corner on Westgate Street – you'll find more vintage clothes, food, jewellery and bric-à-brac.
Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel and Marie Lloyd all trod Hackney's boards during its time as a music hall. It's since been used as a television studio and, rather quaintly, as a bingo hall, before opening as a theatre proper in 1986. Today, it's a much-loved East End institution whose pantos have become the stuff of legend. High art does feature (the English Touring Opera presented Mozart's 'The Magic Flute' in 2009) as does issue-heavy theatre, often with an emphasis on class and multiculturalism. But the focus tends to be on fun: comedy, children's theatre and music all featuring large on its programme. Tours of the Grade II-listed auditorium take place during Open House London weekend in September.
Bars and pubs in Hackney
Hotels in Hackney
The RE London Shoreditch
The RE London Shoreditch is a modern, air-conditioned hotel with stylish rooms and a 120-seater restaurant. London buses stop outside the hotel and reach Liverpool Street Station in 10 minutes.The large rooms at RE London Shoreditch have luxury beds, a flat-screen TV, an en suite power shower and Fair Trade tea and coffee.Quattro Bar & Grill offers relaxed dining in a stylish setting, and there is also a meeting room for up to 50 people.Bethnal Green London Underground Tube Station is a 10/15-minute walk away. There is a bus stop outside hotel, with buses going to Liverpool Street, London Bridge, Waterloo and Oxford Circus.