London’s Hippest Neighbourhoods

London is the coolest city on the planet (though New Yorkers beg to differ), with hip neighbourhoods galore to explore.

For the hippest of the hip, there’s no need to venture out of East London. Once the wrong end of town, creative types gave the east a revamp in the nineties. Now a ride on the new East London Railway reveals cool cafes, vintage clothing stores, ethnic cuisine and happening pubs and nightclubs.

East London Mela – Photo credit

When the creative types moved into Shoreditch and Hoxton they brought the galleries and warehouse conversions with them. Hit up Old Street and Curtain Road for hip clubs and gastropubs and The White Cube Gallery for contemporary art.

Brick Lane is London’s epicentre for that great British institution, the curry house, but it’s also a hipster fashion mecca. Try Luna & Curious for vintage and Shop 172 for new designer garb. When it’s time for a curry, wander off Brick Lane to the Lahore Kebab House. After dinner, Vibe Bar in the Old Truman Brewery serves cheap drinks to a cool crowd.

Brick Lane curry – Photo credit

For your dose of cool in central, head to Soho. Its former sleazy days are still evident but there’s a buzzy mix of bars, restaurants, clubs and some of the slickest hotels in London. Milk & Honey and Mark’s Bar both serve excellent cocktails and the relatively new Soho Theatre presents new theatre, comedy and cabaret.

Fashionistas in Soho should check out the boutiques on Greek St and Brewer St, such as Tatty Devine and Kokon To Zai. And no shopping trip to Soho is complete without a perusal of the beautiful Liberty department store on Great Marlborough Street.

Soho is the heart of London’s gay scene and the rainbow flags fly loud and proud on Old Compton St. For gay tourists in London, a night of dancing at G.A.Y. bar is practically a requisite.

Bar in Soho – Photo credit

Notting Hill’s glory days are considered over by some but Portobello Road Markets are world famous and the shopping on Westbourne Grove is still worth a look. And with A-list haunts like Electric Brasserie, Notting Hill is fertile ground for celebrity spotting.

Many a legendary British band has got their start in one of Camden’s live music venues. For your gig fix try Barfly, Underworld or the Electric Ballroom. Camden Markets are also a drawcard with over 100,000 people visiting each weekend for its eclectic mix of fashion, crafts, bric-a-brac, books, food and more.

Camden Markets – Photo credit

South of the Thames, Brixton is a great bet for nightlife with large venues like the Brixton Academy. For shopping try the Brixton Village Market. The area underwent a transformation in 2010 with an influx of creative types attracted by a three-month free rent deal.

In the multicultural suburb of Peckham there’s a thriving art scene. The main shopping strip, Rye Lane offers an intriguing mix of fashion and multicultural food and there’s an arts, crafts and food market in Peckham Square on Sundays.

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