London is not just about High Tea and Buckingham Palace. While I love a good cream tea, Prince Harry and strolling around Mayfair as much as the next girl, I know there’s so much more to this multi-faceted city. My most recent weekend jaunt to the English capital was spent exploring the hip, up-and-coming boroughs in the East – which are refreshingly unpolished and undeniably cool. Read on to learn why East London is the perfect base for your next UK getaway!
Since London is one of the largest cities in Europe, it’s quite difficult to see the whole city in just one weekend. However, East London and its many markets, shops, bars and cafes is the perfect amount for a weekend’s worth of fun (AND you’ll cut down on your Tube costs because its super walkable!).
Sometimes, where you stay can make or break a trip. I can certainly say that my stay at Andaz London Liverpool Street was one of the highlights of my entire weekend. Situated near the lively Liverpool Street rail station, the hotel has been in operation since the 1800s (originally as the Great Eastern Hotel) and is one of London’s original railway hotels. Another fun fact: the historical Victorian building was designed by the same architects as the Houses of Parliament!
Once checked in, I was toured around the seven (yes, SEVEN) different drinking and dining options located within the hotel (everything from amazing sushi to a chic brasserie to a classic English pub). My room was equally as impressive – each of the 4 deluxe rooms feature unique, original art created by local, East London artists.
Everyone I met at Andaz was incredibly welcoming, accommodating and offered up great local tips. The experience was truly reflective of the overall Andaz hotel group – welcoming creative minds to create inspiring experiences through a kaleidoscope of local culture.
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MY TOP EAST LONDON HIGHLIGHTS
SPITALFIELDS MARKET – Located just 5 minutes from Andaz, this covered market boasts an array of restaurant options, clothing/accessory booths and individual boutiques. It’s the perfect place to duck in for lunch or coffee when the typical London weather kicks in ;)
SUSHISAMBA – A Japanese/Brazilian/Peruvian fusion restaurant with sweeping city views from the 39th floor, complete with stylish guests, great music and killer cocktails. Need I say more?
TOWER BRIDGE – Many of London’s most famous sights are located in the East, so don’t miss watching the sunset at Tower Bridge near the Tower of London! Afterwards, we hopped on the ferry to get to dinner (but also for the gorgeous ride, which was only a few pounds!)
*Other famous East London sights include: the Tate Modern museum, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
DINERAMA – What initially looks like a scrap yard is actually a foodie’s paradise. This Shoreditch night street market boasts several diners, bars, food trucks and 3 rooftop terraces that have eight Michelin tyres between them!
BRICK LANE – Brick Lane road, formerly a quite dodgy part of town, is now home to some of London’s best vintage shops, warehouse art exhibitions, open-air markets and people watching. On Sunday morning, the area is especially alive with its market that is open at The Old Truman Brewery until 2pm. Be sure to check out Ragyard – a boutique for men and women offering one-of-a-kind designs, all handmade in London! Also, this area is known for its FANTASTIC Indian food, so leaving without getting your curry fix would be a crime.
CALLOOH CALLAY BAR – Visit for a unique drinking experience in Shoreditch, and I’m not even talking about the award-winning cocktails. Visitors can linger in the main bar, or enter through an old Victorian wardrobe to a secret mid-century bar in the back!
COLUMBIA ROAD FLOWER MARKET – On Sundays, this quiet street turns into a buzzing flower mecca. Seriously, I’ve never seen so many different fresh flowers all in one place. Even though I couldn’t buy anything (airlines won’t accept a massive Hydrangea bouquet as my carry-on, right?), I had a great time browsing the blooms and also the many cute shops and art galleries lining the market area (my favorite was Nelly Duff – so many cool art prints!).