A look at the latest hotels, restaurants, and shops in London’s coolest corner.
If ever a city neighborhood deserved the description “shabby chic,” it’s Shoreditch in East London. A once low-rent, predominantly working-class area that emerged as a hipster hub more than a decade ago, Shoreditch still doesn’t look like much when you emerge from the Old Street tube station. But make your way past the glow-in-the-dark kebab shop, the Bangladeshi dry cleaner, and the three-story graffito of a Japanese geisha, and it soon becomes clear what all the fuss is about.
For proof of Shoreditch’s ongoing transformation, look no further than the latest batch of cool hotels. On Willow Street, there’s the 150-room Nobu Hotel Shoreditch (doubles from US$342), whose seductive Japan-meets-industrial-London aesthetics and zen-like calm offer a refuge from the frenetic pulse of life outside; it’s also home to the British capital’s third Nobu restaurant. A short stroll away are two other newcomers: the affordably stylish CitizenM (doubles from US$155) on Holywell Lane and The Curtain (doubles from US$340) on Curtain Road. The latter has its own live music venue, rooftop pool and café, and an outlet of New York chef Marcus Samuelsson’s acclaimed Red Rooster. The restaurant’s Sunday morning soul brunch, complete with gospel singers, is already a hit with locals.
A 10-minute walk down Commercial Street brings you to Old Spitalfields Market, right opposite the historic Ten Bells pub where at least two of Jack the Ripper’s victims had their last drink. Not only does the market’s eclectic range of stalls sell well-crafted goods that you’ll actually want to buy, but October saw the opening of 10 new food outlets—collectively known as The Kitchens—under its roof. There’s everything from Mexican, North African, and Nordic to Japanese and fresh East Anglian oysters brought in from the coast.
For breakfast, try Dishoom on Boundary Street; the bacon naan roll and spiced tea are just the thing to warm up a gray winter morning. A few blocks west is Popolo, which has garnered deservedly rave reviews for its Italian-Spanish–Middle Eastern fusion. That’s a combo that sounds likes it shouldn’t work, but it does—try the grilled octopus with za’atar and eggplant puree.
Shopping-wise, look for Browns East, the new outlet of famed West End fashion boutique Browns. Occupying a former print factory on Club Row—a street once known for its live- animal market—it is as emblematic of the area’s latest evolution as any spot. Apart from dozens of covetable labels, the store features a staircase that doubles as an art gallery and an “Immersive Experience Room” for meditation sessions. And back near Popolo is Sans Pere, which bills itself as a “lifestyle house”: it’s part real estate agency, part architect’s studio, and part homeware store, with a café, patisserie, and tea and coffee bar to boot. All in all, very Shoreditch, mate.
This article originally appeared in the December 2017/January 2018 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Sizing Up Shoreditch”).