Although long considered the “dodgy” part of town, the East End of London inadvertently morphed into a fertile breeding ground for raw talent that has revolutionized British fashion and redefined international music trends while reminding the world of that edgy Cockney charm. Naturally, this Renaissance-style revitalization quickly captivated the attention of local (and traveling) hipsters who instinctively know that the East End neighborhoods are ground zero for the emergence of trends that will define their generation.
Iconic East End institutions like Start boutique (established by punk musicians Brix Smith-Start from The Fall and her husband Philip Start from Woodhouse) introduced tailor-made designer fashions to the streets while The Bicycle Shop glamourized street fashions to create runway sensations! Between the two extremes are nascent clothing concepts like You Must Create (YMC for short) that developed that distinctly British fashion by roughing up crisp military styles with Goth overtones. Trendy hairstyles erupt from East End salons like Pimps & Pinups while shoppers from as far away as Japan, Italy and the US snap up the more classical threads like Burberry Macs and cashmere sweaters at the Burberry Factory Shop.
Since the ultra-cool crowd rejects junk food but wants to eat cheap, East End eateries boasting healthy fast food like Eat at Broadgate have sprung up to unashamedly serve delicious budget-friendly meals that are organically crafted from fresh ingredients. Those craving more exotic fare head to Brick Lanewhere curry houses, ethnic supermarkets and sweet shops dish up excellent, economical meals that appeal to vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Amid the old-school greasy spoons around Shoreditch area, wholesome eateries like IsOrganic thrive by providing grab-and-go meals that suit the lifestyles of those fast-paced trend setters.
Exposing London to the edgiest experimental music from all over the world since 2008, Café Oto’s expansive open space serves as a laid-back artist’s hang-out and café during the day but by night morphs into an avant-garde live music performance extravaganza. Tucked away behind Kingsland High Street, this tragically hip East End stage has hosted acts ranging from Bushmen’s Revenge (a Norwegian improv/free jazz/psych-rock power trio) to the Multipletap Japanese Noise Music Festival. Headline events are sponsored by The Wire, Britain’s cutting edge music magazine, using crowd-funding strategies that empower the fans, rather than corporations, to determine the ticket prices.
Night Owl Haunts
While most London taverns shut down around 2 AM, the Shoreditch area of the East End is just getting warmed up. Quirky dance clubs like Jaguar Shoes strike just the right balance between unbearably trendy and slightly shabby chic while pumping out reasonably-priced drinks and downright delicious late-night pizzas. At BrewDog Shoreditch the hipster crowd guzzles locally crafted beers and custom drinks with names like the Drunken Pony Negroni while downing gourmet hot dogs before descending to the basement for some serious head-banging courtesy of local bands and cutting-edge DJs. Hard core clubbers head to Public Life, a dive bar housed in a former public toilet outside Christchurch Spidalfields where music runs the gambit from slick 80s pop to grimy garage bands as it blasts non-stop onto the exclusively tiny dance floor.
Looking for a cheap London hotel in the East End? Start your search at HostelBookers.com where you can read reviews, see pictures and compare prices on lots of cool London hostels and hotels.