With London voted the most popular destination in the world last year, it was only a matter of time before we started seeing some new marketing campaigns seeking to promote the capital as a place to visit in 2014.
The latest effort from HotelClub is a travel video encouraging people to head east, focusing on Shoreditch and Hackney. The film offers a skater's eye view of the area, zooming in on the colourful street markets, cafes and people that make the area unique.
It certainly does a good job of making you want to go there, but it doesn't necessarily cover everything that East London has to offer. This post focuses on five other reasons why you should ride the Central line that little bit further east...
We all know that a Regent's Canal is a great place to hang out, but have you checked out the numerous floating businesses along the towpath? Word On The Water is a friendly barge selling secondhand books to passers by, Chapeau Bateau specialises in funky hats and caps, while Frocks A Float offers a range of carefully-edited men's and women's vintage clothing. Part of the fun is finding them all!
Decent Music Scene
Indie fans are well served by gigs at Village Underground, XOYO and The Macbeth in Shoreditch, while The Shacklewell Arms, Birthdays and Power Lunches offer something similar in Dalston. East London is a great place for people who still buy records, with Kristina in Dalston, Vinyl Pimp in Hackney Wick and Brick Lane's Rough Trade East all offering an eclectic range of sounds. On a budget? Oxfam on Kingsland Road is where musicians like Kieran Hebden (AKA Four Tet) drop off their spare vinyl!
Nowhere is London's visual schizophrenia better illustrated than in the east, where brutalist council flats rub shoulders with Victorian warehouses, as Canary Wharf's gleaming skyscrapers tower over the rest of the city. East London is where greasy spoons sit side by side to luxury fashion boutiques and rockstars walk their poodles through Ridley Road Market on a Sunday. It's all about the extreme contrasts!
Wander the streets for any length of time and you're likely to stumble upon some of the weirdest shops in the UK. Viktor Wynd's Little Shop of Horrors on Mare Street is an old school curiosity shop of the most eccentric kind, selling skeletons, butterflies and even a Fiji Mermaid (a taxidermied monkey sewn onto half a fish). Barn The Spoon carves beautiful handmade wooden spoons and spatulas from his little shop on Hackney Road; while further north in Walthamstow The Viking Store provides fantasy and roleplay memorabilia including suits of armour, Viking drinking horns and medieval costumes.
As a sign in Hackney Wick proclaims, the few square miles are home to the highest concentration of artists in the world, and their creativity shines throughout Shoreditch and Hackney. Quality street art by locals Burning Candy Crew and Stik graces many an empty wall or shop front, while well-known galleries such as the White Cube and Whitechapel Gallery continue to put on regular contemporary art exhibitions. Perhaps the biggest attraction, though, is the lesser-known spaces, such as Schwartz Gallery in the Wick, Pure Evil Gallery in Shoreditch and StolenSpace on Brick Lane.
It's clear that East London has much to offer whatever your interests. Perhaps the best thing to do is head down and check it out for yourself!