It might be almost three decades since Cool Britannia, but make no mistake: the UK still knows what’s hip, groovy and happening. And this year, once again, our annual ranking of the world’s coolest neighbourhoods confirmed exactly that: the UK is certainly still very, very cool.
But which British neighbourhoods are cooler than the rest?
To find out, first we crunched the numbers from 27,000 city-dwellers around the world, polled as part of this year’s Time Out Index, which included questions on everything from restaurants and nightlife to community spirit and sustainability. We then took the neighbourhoods rated highest by the public to our global network of editors and contributors, who vetted the list against certain criteria (cool stuff, but also kind stuff, forward-looking stuff). Our panel of experts then ranked the lot. Naturally, plenty of neighbourhoods in the UK made the cut.
Long gone are the days when London was a sure bet for the UK’s coolest neighbourhood. Leith in Edinburgh not only beat every other neighbourhood in the country, it slipped into the top five overall. Recent years have seen Leith transform the architectural relics of its industrial history into super-creative cultural venues. Just when you thought Edinburgh couldn’t get much more delightful, it pulls further glory out of the hat. Fair play.
London came in at number 13, with always-cool Dalston remaining one of the UK’s best places to live and hang out (teeming as it is with great pubs, thriving nightlife and tons of green space). Next was Ancoats, Manchester, in 20th place. The one-time home of the city’s cotton mills, Ancoats now features a supremely pleasant mix of public art, innovative restaurants and a whole load of great community initiatives.
A seaside community pursuing several admirable eco-friendly projects, Kemptown in Brighton followed at number 26, while hot on its heels at number 29 was Ouseburn in Newcastle. This harbourside area has tactfully preserved both its rich heritage and threatened ecosystems – all while remaining one of Newcastle’s best areas to eat, drink and have a right ol’ larf.
So, what a cool little country we live in, eh? All of these neighbourhoods are great case studies in how areas can hold on to their history, while building stronger communities and thinking about the future too. We’ll drink a Leith-distilled whisky to that!
Want to know where else made the cut? Now read our full ranking of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world for 2021.