Virtuoso Life July 2018 City Guide: London’s Shoreditch

City Guide: London’s Shoreditch

Old Spitalfields Market.
Old Spitalfields Market.
Photo by Nanna Dís
Morning-to-midnight entertainment in London’s East End trendsetter.

GO FOR

Even Brexit can’t seem to put the brakes on Shoreditch. The former rough-and-tumble East London neighborhood has transformed its nineteenth-century mills into work spaces, boutiques, galleries, and bars and is flush with tech money and a young, educated, and diverse crowd. Yet in the shadow of towering glass spires, you’ll also find elegant Georgian homes and quietly crumbling Roman ruins. It’s a tasteful mélange of new Britannia and Old England.

SHOP

Though it lacks a traditional core, nothing feels more like the vibrant center of Shoreditch than Old Spitalfields Market, which dates back 350 years. High-end British outposts include Belstaff, Rapha, and shoemaker Cheaney, but the place to hunt for souvenirs is among the nearly 70 outdoor stalls in the football-pitch-size, glass-roofed market square. Designer Mei-Hui recently launched The Silk Series – a nod to the district’s woven-trades history – which takes place every Monday through Wednesday, with nearly 30 vendors focused on silk fashion and art. On Thursdays, the theme shifts to antiques; you’d be wise to poke through Malby Maps’ extraordinary collection of vintage cartography.

Stop by housewares designer SCP Ltd.’s home base in Shoreditch to pick up a Welsh woolen throw, a kitschy pillow, or a vintage lamp, desk, or chair to ship home. Its exclusive textiles are true finds as well.

SCP Ltd.
SCP Ltd.
Photo by Nanna Dís

EAT & DRINK

It’s impossible to roam Spitalfields without being tempted by The Kitchens, which anchors the market floor with street-food stalls from some of East London’s favorite chefs. You can’t go wrong with one of the Dumpling Shack’s Shanghai-style soup dumplings or one of Happy Endings’ ridiculously good ice cream sandwiches.

The team behind Blixen converted a bank into a conservatory, creating the feeling of eating in an arboretum. A few favorites from the rotating Mediterranean-inspired menu: house-cured cod with pickled cauliflower, beet salad with goat cheese whipped into a near crème fraîche airiness, and Gresham duck breast with rhubarb and licorice.

A block east of the market, Poppie’s Fish & Chips has ranked as a finalist for years in the UK’s National Fish & Chip Awards. Order the fried whitebait for the table, and cod, haddock, or halibut as your main course. Wash it down with one of the house-brand beers.

Spike the jet lag with a perfect macchiato from Origin Coffee. Baristas are serious about their coffee and pleasantly charming, with no air of Portlandia pretense about their house-roasted beans.

Poppie’s Fish & Chips.
Poppie’s Fish & Chips.
Photo by Nanna Dís

DO

Look sharper with a haircut or a wet shave at Huckle the Barber. The space channels a 1920s men’s club vibe with white-tiled walls, overstuffed vintage barber chairs that tilt directly into wash sinks, and pints of local Howling Hops beer or tumblers of whiskey offered to patrons.

Artillery Lane and Fournier Street provide some of the best examples of eighteenth-century blocks in all of England. To get a feel for their original residents, book in advance for a tour of the Dennis Severs’ House, which replicates 1730s life in the neighborhood with period decor and scenes from the daily life of French Huguenot silk merchants.

Huckle the Barber.
Huckle the Barber.
Photo by Nanna Dís

STAY

Live the local life in one of Onefinestay’s 15 Shoreditch properties. A recommendation: its three-bedroom, three-story Calvin Street home a few blocks from Old Spitalfields Market, complete with a rooftop terrace and views of the burgeoning East London skyline. Much like the neighborhood, it blends a modern interior design with exposed brick walls and oversize windows that hint at the building’s factory roots.

The old and new look of Shoreditch.
The old and new look of Shoreditch.
Photo by Nanna Dís

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