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Limehouse Reach, Docklands in the East End of London
The East End is a district of central London, stretching out from the edge of The City to the River Lee. Highlights include the large cluster of Sunday markets and the nightclub area of Shoreditch.
The East End is the home of "Cockney Rhyming Slang", a dialect of English where words are substituted for other words which they rhyme with. For example "Apples and Pears" is cockney slang for "Stairs", "Plates of Meat" is slang for "Feet". In recent years the East End is perhap more famous than ever due to the long running and hugely popular BBC TV series EastEnders, a soap opera about the life of people living in Albert Square, Walford, which is a fictional location.
Exploring the East End can be a great way to get off of the main tourist track, while staying in walking distance of the historic centre of London. A good place to start is to go east from Spitalfields into the nearby Brick Lane neighbourhood.
The East End consists of many small and quite distinct neighbourhoods:
Mile End is an increasingly affluent neighbourhood about one mile (hence the name) from the City of London along the Whitechapel Road. While not as vibrant as its neighbours in Bethnal Green and Brick Lane, it has a charm of its own which makes this district worth a visit. It is rich in history and contains some very interesting relics of London's industrial past. The district was created just at the time when London was expanding at its fastest rate and as such contains areas which are a microcosm of the Victorian city. It also suffered greatly from German bombing in WWII and the slum clearances of the 1960s which saw many fine Victorian houses bulldozed to be replaced by sub-standard communal housing.
Whitechapel runs from the edge of the City of London at Bishopsgate in the West to Cavell Street in the East, and from Commercial Road in the south moving to the Brick Lane area in the north. It became particularly notorious in 19th century for the gruesome murders of Jack the Ripper (once known as 'The Whitechapel Murderer'), in the days when poverty and prostitution were common in this area. It is still a largely working-class area but has attracted a large Bangaledeshi community which has made Brick Lane what it is today. Many aspiring artists moved here for the cheap rents but still central location. Tracey Emin (one of the not-so-Young British Artists (YBAs) of the 1990s) has a studio in this area, and can be seen wandering around in the day. The Royal London Hospital gazes across at Whitechapel tube station and is famous for nursing Joseph Carey Merrick (the 'Elephant Man') in his final years.
Brick Lane is a small but diverse neighbourhood, named after a long road starting in Whitechapel and running north into Shoreditch. The area has come to be known as "Banglatown" in recent years on account of many of its inhabitants and proprietors originating from the Indian subcontinent (especially Bangladesh). You can see evidence of this on the bilingual road signs which where placed to help immigrants in the 1980s who were unable to speak English.
Although now largely a Bengali neighbourhood, within living memory, Brick Lane was a Jewish district. As well as some obvious remnants of this history such as a few remaining bagel delis, there are some more subtle ones too, such as small synagogues in the back streets. Many of the larger synagogues have now been converted into mosques. Before that, it was a Huguenot area. The Huguenots settled in the area and became well-known for silk weaving. The markets here date back to the 16th century, when the area was a stop on the main eastern exit road from London The neighbourhood, now complete with its own annual festival, is now most famous for its curry restaurants, markets, speciality shops and vibrant but relaxed nightlife.
Shoreditch stretches from Old Street station to Kingsland Road in the London Borough of Hackney. Culturally though this is part of the East End. This was once an area largely populated by skint artists but they were scattered once the wave of design and media studios and commercial art galleries rolled in. Although the area is still underdeveloped in many ways, this is one of the best places to go out drinking in London, simply because there are so many different bars, pubs and clubs dotted all over this area and many of these stay open past 11PM.
This area stretches from the edge of the City of London along the river to Beckton. The area encompasses the historical docks of the port of London, which declined after the Second World War. The area has been extensively redeveloped since the 1980s resutling in a doubling of the residential population. This is now predominantly an area of giant offices and mid to upmarket housing, although elements of its historic purpose can still be found. For travellers, the major feature of interest is the Canary Wharf development, home to some of London's tallest buildings. However, there are also other areas of Docklands that are of interest to those with more time to explore the area. Area of modern day Docklands include Wapping, Limehouse, the Isle of Dogs and Royal Dock:
Wapping is immediately east of the City of London on the banks of the Thames. Although largely gentrified in recent decades, there are still many cobbled streets and the warehouse conversions has been done sympathetically in many places, and there are several excellent riverside pubs. The giant News International facility (which publishes The Times and The Sun newspapers) is located here.
Limehouse extends from the edge of Wapping to Canary Wharf. By-passed by the Limehouse Link road tunnel, it is a quiet, predominantly residential area and there are a few riverside pubs of note a well as facilities serving the massive business community at Canary Wharf.
The Isle of Dogs extends south from the Canary Wharf development and is a mixture of light industrial, office and residential areas, with a large park at Mudchute that contains a City Farm. At Island Gardens there are noteworthy views across the river to Greenwich.
The Royal Docks extend east and are at an earlier stage of redevelopment than most of the rest of Docklands. They are dominated by the giant Excel centre and are the home of London City Airport. Aside from these there are few reasons for vistors to come here. Surrey Docks and Rotherhithe on the south of the river are sometimes included in descriptions of Docklands.
Mile End is one of the best-connected stations in London, with access to the Central, Hammersmith and City, and District Lines. It is claimed that Mile End is the only station on the Underground system which can be reached by every other, with only one change. There is also a District Line station at Bow Road and Docklands Light Railway stations at Bow Road and Devons Road.
For the west side of Whitechapel get off at Aldgate East tube station (Hammersmith & City & District Lines), to take you directly to the Whitechapel Art Gallery and near the bottom of Brick Lane or Whitechapel tube station (Hammersmith & City & District Lines) will take you to the east side of Whitechapel Road. Liverpool Street tube station is a 15 minute walk from Whitechapel.
The Jubilee line extension to Canary Wharf links docklands with the main tube network.
By Docklands Light Railway (DLR)
Much of Docklands was historically poorly connected to the rest of London, with the development of the Docklands Light Rail (DLR) and the extension of the Jubilee Underground line, transportation has become much easier and more efficient. If visiting Docklands, you might like to arrive by DLR to experience the views from the train on approach and leave by the Jubilee to see the impressively large station, which has been compared to a cathedral.
Most of the DLR stations are, unsurprisingly, in Docklands. There are three stations on the Canary Wharf development: West India Quay, Canary Wharf and Heron Quays. Heron Quays is best for interchange with the Jubilee line. The stations are a short distance apart so you don't need to use the DLR to get around within Canary Wharf.
London Overground's East London Line connects various stations in the inner East End, running through Hoxton, Shoreditch High Street, Whitechapel, Shadwell and Wapping, before crossing the river to Rotherhithe, Canada Water and beyond.
- Canary Wharf, (tube: Canary Wharf), . A vast shopping, eating, entertainment and (primarily) business complex, home to Britain's tallest completed skyscraper, One Canada Square. Now increasingly lively at weekends as well, but still at its most impressive during the week. Spectacular main exit from the Jubilee Line tube station. There is a substantial amount of information about the history and the architecture of the development on the website of Canary Wharf Group, the company that owns the development.
- Museum in Docklands, (DLR: West India Quay), . 10AM-6PM. Tells the story of the development of the Docklands from Roman and Viking times to the present day. free.
- The Brick Lane Gallery, 196 Brick Lane, ☎ +44 20 7729 9721 ([email protected]), . Noon-6PM. Free, you can buy the paintings..
- Victoria Park (Vicky Park), tube: Mile End. Daily 6AM-dusk. At 87 hectares this is the largest open green space in the district.
- Whitechapel Art Gallery, 80-82 Whitechapel High Street (Nearest Tube, Aldgate East), ☎ +44 20 7522 7888, . Tu-Su 11AM-6PM, Th 11AM-9PM, M closed. Whitechapel has been a champion of Modern Art since 1901, and has held exhibitions of greats such as Picasso, Pollock and Frida Kahlo and supported British Artists such as Gilbert & George and Lucian Freud. The space continues to hold regular new exhibtions with additional linked events on Thursday evenings. There is a cafe and a small art bookshop. Free entry. There are excellent facilities for disabled people (visual, hearing and physical).
- White Cube, Hoxton Square (South side). Art gallery with exhibitions by major British and international artists.
- Wilton's Music Hall (Wilton's), Graces Alley off Ensign Street (10 minutes walk from Tower Hill or Aldgate East tube stations. Head towards Royal Mint Street which becomes Cable Street.), ☎ 020 7702 2789, . Wilton's Music Hall is the oldest Grand Music Hall in the world. Built in 1858 it has had a long and colourful history. Wilton's has been the haunt of Victorian sailors (and their ladies), become a Mission, survived two world wars, being a rag warehouse, being forgotten, becoming derelict and has ended up as a theatre once more. It is now a performance space offering entertainment of as wide a variety as puppetry to poetry and has launched a capital appeal to save it from crumbling.
- Cultureline, . This is a website promoting locations of cultural interest along London Overground's East London line.
- Tower Bridge. If you feel adventurous then spend a sunny Sunday afternoon walking the north bank of the River Thames to Tower Bridge in the City of London.
- Regents Canal. Walk up the Regents Canal.
- Green Bridge. Walk over the Green Bridge, a unique structure that joins Bow Common to Mile End Park with its urban nature reserve, taking the park over the busy A12 road, ensuring uninterrupted greenery for several miles, from the bottom of Bow Common to the top of the beautiful Victoria Park.
- East London Art Walks (Comment art walks), 20 Rivington Street (Old Street Tube exit 3), ☎ +44 20 7739 1743, 7799 776 016, . "Sa. A friendly, qualified art guide will take you round a selection of the most interesting exhibitions on at the moment and also talk about the history of contemporary art in East London. £5/4. (51.526000,-0.082402)
- The O2 (Formerly the Millennium Dome), (tube: North Greenwich). Concerts, cinema and restaurants.
- Cineworld Cinema, 11 Hertsmere Road (tube: West India Quay).
- Excel, 1 Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock (tube: Custom House), ☎ +44 20 7069500 ([email protected]), . Exhibition and conference centre. The venue hosts such public events as the London Boat Show, the British Motor Show and the London Triathlon as well as numerous trade shows. It will be a venue for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics for sports such as boxing, table tennis and fencing.
- Cycle. Hire a bike and cycle around the island. There are lots of cycle paths and great riverside views of the City of London and Greenwich.
- Canary Wharf Ice Rink, (tube: Canary Wharf), . A café and bar, and the only genuine Central Park style skating in London, in the smart Canada Square park surrounding by glittering office tower blocks. Winter only.
- Jack the Ripper Tour, . For those of you with a morbid fascination with this 19th century murderer, this will hopefully feed your curiosity. Approx 2 hours. Book through website. £8 per person.
- The Brick Lane Gallery, 196 Brick Lane (Nearest tube: Liverpool Street or Aldgate East), ☎ +44 20 7729 9721 ([email protected]), . Noon-6PM. Exhibits an eclectic variety of contemporary art and street art by British and International artists, focusing mainly on exhibiting emerging and mid-career artists. They present an integrated programme of exhibitions, including solo-shows as well as group exhibitions, introducing innovative developments in painting, sculpture, photography, performance, video and works on paper. Free, but you also can buy the paintings.
The undoubted highlight of East End trading life was the street market, operating under a grudging acceptance from the authorities and offering bargains with big suggestions that the cheap price may be related to a dodgy road to market. Sunday was the main market day due to the Jewish heritage of the area, and therefore attracted a large influx of punters before shops were allowed Sunday trading elsewhere in London. The (more controlled) current markets are a treat of variety, stretching out in short walk from Liverpool St or Shoreditch stations. During a Sunday morning relaxed walk, allowing 2-3 hours, you can visit the four main markets, Petticoat Lane, Spitalfields, Brick Lane and Columbia Road Flower Market, have lunch and a shandy or two, whilst taking in the ever-changing diversity. New markets are opening en-route all the time, but real surprises are most likely to be found around the north Brick Lane/ Cheshire St area which most resembles the spirit of the original markets, having many stalls operating on the edges of both market and legality.
- Petticoat Lane Market, Middlesex Street. Traditionally the East End market where nearly anything could be found (legal or not) now mostly cheaper mainstream clothes. Main market Sunday, smaller market Mon-Fri in Wentworth Street
- Spitalfields Market, (tube: Liverpool Street, just off Bishopgate), . The traditional fruit and vegetable market for The City moved into the suburbs in 1991. The existing buildings were threatened with complete demolition by developers, but saved partially by local action and the establishment of an organic market on the empty site. It has slowly been shrunk to a third of its size by development in the area. It still features a good variety of clothing, crafts and food stalls/shops, but very little organic anymore. Mon-Fri - upmarket stalls operate on the edge of the new buildings. Towards end of week more eclectic stalls can be found in old market area. Sunday hosts the full market in both old and new areas but tends to be increasingly more expensive and exclusive as traders are squeezed for higher rents.
- Brick Lane. The Whitechapel end of Brick Lane is filled with South Asian (mainly Bangladeshi) shops and restaurants, selling music, spices, tasty sweets and sari material.
- Beyond Retro, 110-112 Cheshire Street, . Secondhand clothing (male and female).
- Rokit, 101&107 Brick Lane, . Secondhand clothing (male and female).
- Brick Lane Market, (overground: Shoreditch High Street, running from Shoreditch High Street Overground Station to Bethnal Green Road and spreading out into Sclater Street and Cheshire Street). Su 8AM-2PM. Selling second hand clothes, bric-a-brac, books, household goods and electronics.
- Tatty Devine, 236 Brick Lane (Hidden up at the quiet end away from the hustle and bustle of the market and curry houses), ☎ +44 20 7739 9009, . Little shop specialising in accessories for men and women, such as volume level brooches and newspaper print ties. M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa-Su 11AM-7PM.
- Whitechapel Market, (By the Whitechapel tube station), . M-Sa 8AM-6PM. A small street market selling food and spices, clothing, jewellery, carpets and the odd dodgy stereo.
- 1 Canada Square Shopping Mall, 1 Canada Square. American style air conditioned shopping centre. All the usual High Street shops, plus a John Lewis department store and a Waitrose food store which has the most stunning range of produce.Pleasant upmarket shopping centre, made up of three arcades: Canada, Cabot and Jubilee Place. The three arcades encircle Jubilee Park and the tube station, and house over 200 shops, bars, restaurants and cafes that are open seven days a week. A relaxed shopping environment, especially good for clothes.
- Roman Road Market, Roman Road, Bow (follow the signs from Bow Road tube station). A mix of traditional goods, from high street brands to fish, Roman has it all. Market runs Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday till 4 O'clock.
There are many restaurants in Docklands clustered around the new developments of Canary Wharf. Some of the best are listed below:
- Café Rouge, Mackenzie Walk, ☎ +44 20 7537 9696. Waterfront Parisian Bistro. Wide selection of food and wine in a relaxing setting.
- Carluccios, Nash Court, ☎ +44 20 7719 1749. Authentic Italian Cafe with all Italian dishes developed by Antonio Carluccio himself. There is also a genuine Italian deli with take out lunches, meats, cheeses and a range of branded products and gift items.
- The Fine Line, Fisherman's Walk, ☎ +44 20 7513 0255. Lunchtime menus include a mixture of continental and international meals. A snack menu is available in the evening. Two mezzanine areas at the bar for private party bookings.
- First Edition, 25 Cabot Square, ☎ +44 20 7513 0300. International cuisine with continental and Far Eastern influences compliment a wide range of fresh seafood. Extensive wine list served by the glass. Private affairs welcome.
- Gaucho Grill, Westferry Circus, Canary Riverside, ☎ +44 20 7987 9494. The Argentinian cowboy, the gaucho, made famous the tradition of cooking fresh meat over charcoal grills. The large horseshoe bar offers traditional South American cocktails and beer.
- Itsu, Second floor, Cabot Place East, Canada Place, ☎ +44 20 7512 5790. Conveyor belt sushi restaurant, more on the side of "fusion" than traditional. Japanese Sushi along with a wide range of dishes reflecting a strong Asian and Vietnamese influence. Take away boxes are available. Fresh cocktails, sake and Japanese beer at the relaxed bar.
- Nandos, Unit 24-26, Jubilee Place, ☎ +44 20 7513 2864. Traditional Portuguese style food, specializing in their famous Peri-Peri chicken flame grilled to perfection. Family style atmosphere is relaxed and always friendly.
- Plateau Restaurant Bar and Grill, 4th Floor, Canada Place, ☎ +44 20 7715 7100. Modern French restaurant, part of the Conran restaurants group. More informal Bar and Grill includes steak grills and hearty regional french dishes. Two bars.
- Quadrato, Westferry Circus, Canary Riverside (Four Seasons Hotel), ☎ +44 20 7510 1857. International classics for breakfast and northern Italian cuisine for lunch and dinner. The Tuscan Sunday Brunch and cocktails at bar Quadrato should not be missed. Watching chef Sebastiano Spriveri at work is a main attraction.
- Royal China, Westferry Circus, Canary Riverside, ☎ +44 20 7719 0888. Popular restaurant with a great view of the Thames River. Decorated with Royal China gives a contemporary feel. Enjoy dim-sum as well as an extensive menu.
- Scu-zi, Westferry Circus, Canary Riverside, ☎ +44 20 7519 6699. The funkiest restaurant and bar on the Thames river. Pastas, pizzas and salads are complimented by a first class selection of wines, spirits and cocktails.
- Sri Nam, The North Colonnade, Cabot Square, ☎ +44 20 7715 9515. Fine dining restaurant offering authentic Malaysian, Thai, Chinese, and Singaporean cuisines. A wide variety of drinks, cocktails and snacks are offered. Private dining rooms available by request.
- Wagamama, Jubilee Place, ☎ +44 20 7516 9009. Noodle and rice dishes freshly cooked in a well-designed canteen style restaurant. See detailed review in Chains reviews section of London article.
- Waitrose Food and Home, Canada Place, ☎ +44 20 7719 0300. Six different eateries under one roof. Waitrose Steak and Oyster Bar, Salad and Juice Bar, Tapas Bar, Moshi Moshi Sushi Bar and many other options.
- Zizzi, Westferry Circus, Canary Riverside, ☎ +44 20 7512 9257. Serves authentic pastas and pizzas. During the summer a large riverside terrace affords sweeping views over the River Thames.
There is a cluster of good eatereries at Bow Wharf, just a few minutes north of Mile End station.
- The Crown. Remarkable gastropub, see "Drink" below
- Orange Room Cafe, Burdett Road. A good place for chilled-out lunches.
- Saucy Kipper fish & chip shop, Roman Road. Makes possibly the finest Fish and Chips in the world.
- Venus in the Park. Good Greek food. One of several restaurants under the Green Bridge.
- Zeera. A decent, if slightly pretentious, Indian restaurant. One of several restaurants under the Green Bridge.
Wander up Brick Lane, and you will be pounced on by countless touts trying to persuade you to enter their client's restaurant. Try to go on a recommendation if you can, otherwise take pot luck.
Unfortuntately many of Brick Lane's curry restaurants have become victims of the success of the area. Most restaurants now employ pushy touts, who will hassle you to eat in their client's restaurants. The discounts may sound tempting, but they frequently inflate the prices simply so they can offer you a 'deal'.
The largest concentration is between Woodseer Street and Fournier Street. The old-style, flock wallpaper curry houses have now largely given way to shiny, light wood and aluminium eateries for the tourists and City workers. Whichever style you go for, though, it's always worth checking that they've got a licence to sell alcohol before taking up a table. A lot of the restaurants will allow you to bring you own alcohol along.
- Bengal Village, 75 Brick Lane. Definitely one of the best places in Brick Lane. Very good food, good value, pleasant atmosphere and good service!
- Brick Lane Beigel Bake, 159 Brick Lane (Closer to Bethnal Green Road and with a white sign), ☎ +44 20 7729 0616. 24 hours. A local institution, Beigel Bake is more celebrated of the two and rated by some as the freshest most delicious bagel you will ever have. Their salt beef is more highly rated than Beigel Shop and a salt beef bagel with mustard and pickle is highly recommended for a post-clubbing snack.
- Britain's First & Best Beigel Shop, 155 Brick Lane (Further from Bethnal Green Road and with a yellow sign), ☎ +44 20 7729 0826. 24 hours. While less celebrated than its near neighbour, Beigel Shop is still well worth a visit. While Beigel Bake is a local institution, it is reflected in its limited range. As a result, Beigel Shop works harder for your cash, providing a wider range of fillings and an excellent sausage roll, making it the preferred destination for those who aren't enamoured with salt beef.
- New Tayyabs, 83-89, Fieldgate Street (Between the East London Mosque and The Royal London Hospital). Long established and arguably the best South Asian restaurant in the Whitechapel area. Serves traditional food in a pleasant if slightly frenetic atmosphere. Outstandly good value and with fast efficient service, this reaturant is head and shoulders above any rival in nearby Brick Lane. Particularly recommended are: the mixed grills to share and the delicious mango or banana lassi drinks which are similar to milkshakes. Finally, when you have finished your delicious meal, the bill will always leave you with a smile on your face! Book and/or arrive early on Friday or Saturday as the restaurant is so popular you may have to queue.
- Tas Firin, 160 Bethnal Green Rd E2 6BG (tube: Shoreditch High Street), ☎ +44 20 7729 6446. Great Turkish grilled food, pretty much for carnivores only.(Just off Brick Lane)
- Gourmet San, 261 Bethnal Green Rd E2 6AH (tube: Bethnal Green/Shoreditch). Fantastic Chinese food, as close as you'll get to the real thing in London.
- Pellici's, 332 Bethnal Green Rd E2 (tube: Bethnal Green), ☎ +44 20 7739 4873. Possibly the best greasy spoon caff in the country (and one of very few left), this old pad, frequented by celebrities from X-Factor winners to the Krays, is well worth the effort. Cheap as chips by the London standard and well worth the value for money.
- Mala, 2 Marble Quay, St. Katherine's Dock (tube: Tower Hill), ☎ +44 20 74806356, . Expensive Indian cuisine. Tandooris, Biryanis, and other specialties. View of the docks, full bar.
- Laxeiro, 93 Columbia Road E2 7RG (tube: Hoxton), ☎ +44 20 7729 1147, . Family run Spanish Restaurant established in 1982. Amazing Spanish food.Great for lunch when at the flower market)
- The Mahogany Bar, Wilton's Music Hall, Graces Alley off Ensign Street, London E1 8JB. (Nearest Tubes are Aldate East and Tower Hill, 5 minutes walk from St Katharine's Dock.), ☎ 020 7702 2789, . 5pm - 11pm, Monday to Friday. The Mahogany Bar was built around 1725 and has always been a public house, trading under many names over the years including The Albion Saloon and The Prince of Denmark. In 1828 it was luxuriously and elaborately refurbished with a magnificent mahogany bar and fittings which was unprecedented for a pub interior at that time and arguably set the look for the iconic Victorian pub we know and love today. Sadly, the famous fixtures and fittings of this remarkable bar have been stripped away over the years but the atmosphere lingers on. This is the charming bar inside the dilapidated Wilton's music Hall. Visit on a Monday for free live music from 8pm.
Many of the bars on the Canary Wharf development are indistinguishable chain bars, although they are very popular with office workers on weekday evenings, particularly Thursday and Friday. Most are closed at weekends, but there are usually one or two open if you want to visit then; the area is generally very quiet at this time, which you may or may not consider a good thing! Nearly all have outside areas adjacent to the water which can be pleasant in summer.
Fisherman's Walk, to the north of North Colonnade, has three adjacent bars:
Immediately across the dock, West India Quay has several bars:
- Wetherspoons Pub, (At the west end). Although the view is not so good, is probably the cheapest pub in Canary Wharf.
Mackenzie Walk, to the south of South Colonnade, has a number of bars and restaurants. The following are two 'real' pubs:
- Gun, (On the far eastern edge of Canary Wharf), . 18th-century pub with real fires, a terrace where you can sit and stare at the Millennium Dome over the river, and pistachio nuts behind the bar. A haven of warmth after a trek through JG Ballard-style Docklands wasteland (empty streets, vast satellite dishes and rusting industrial machinery).
- The Spinnaker, (Near South Quay). Nothing particularly to recommend this place, except that it is a real pub, a rarity in Docklands!
- Waitrose's Wine Bar. Pleasant and good-value place to sit and sip, though it closes when Waitrose does (i.e. around 9PM).
- The Palm Tree. A traditional East End boozer. No, it is the traditional East End boozer. Now set in the middle of Mile End Park, originally it was surrounded by houses and a factory. Its incongruous surroundings only add to the charm, however. You may recognise the interior from the number of film and TV appearances the pub has made as an "authentic" location. On Saturday nights the locals crowd into the front bar for a sing-song and the back bar is jammed with trendy students from Queen Mary's college. The presence of a student population mean this wonderful pub never has the threatening air of some East End locals and it attracts a mixed crowd.
- The Morgan Arms, Coborn Road. Was a worthy winner of the Evening Standard London Pub of the Year award recently. The attached restaurant also serves some tasty, albeit pricey fare.
- Verge Bar, Corner of Brick Lane and Bethnal Green Road (Opposite the funky LCB Surf shop), ☎ +44 20 7739 0552. It is open everyday for food, flat whites, espresso and cocktails. It has outside seating for you to watch the exciting Brick Lane World go by or you can relax on a sofa inside a gaze out of the huge windows that open to the Brick Lane. A grand spot to relax with the papers and their excellent Bloody Mary on Sunday Morning.
- Vibe Bar, 91 Brick Lane, ☎ +44 20 7426 0491, . M-Th 7:30PM-11:30PM, F-Sa 7:30PM-1AM. The main advantage of this place is the huge courtyard which is usually packed out in the summer, and directly competes with cooler neighbour, 93 Feet East opposite. But inside although dingy, spreads out into some nooks where you can hide away for a chat from the booming speakers. Plenty of varied DJ nights and live bands. No dress code. Free entry except F-Sa after 8PM.
- 93 Feet East, 150 Brick Lane, ☎ +44 20 7247 6095, . M–Th 5PM–11PM, F 5PM–1AM, Sa noon–1AM, Su noon–10:30PM. This club/bar is made up of three areas: downstairs a loungey bar with low-lit sofa seating everywhere and chilled out music, the main room with a full on sweaty dancefloor (where the headline DJs/bands perform) and an upstairs bar which is mix of the two, plus a large cobbled area outside for the summer. Mon-Thur is mainly live music, and the weekend has the line up of eclectic DJs playing a variety of hip-hop, house and rock music. Charge on the door for gigs, on F/Sa usually free before 9PM, £5 after. No dress code.
- LCB Surf Store and Coffee Shop, (At the corner of Brick Lane and Bethnal Green). Not only is the coffee delicious, it's always prepared with Fairtrade and Organic Beans, roasted in London by the Tea and Coffee Plant. You can sip a hot Organic breakfast tea with a splash of organic milk, or eat a sandwich prepared fresh and packed by The Organic Sandwich Co. Surf the web for free with provided computers or log on wirelessly with your laptop. Shop and watch movies while you eat because opposite the cafe is a Surf Shop, complete with surfboards, skateboards, snowboards as well as shoes, watches, men and womens clothing and more. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, smoke free and totally comfortable for chilling out, shopping or surfing the net.
- Anda Da Bridge, 42-44 Kingsland Road, ☎ +44 20 7739 3863. Normal pub hours. At mere spitting distance from Jaguar Shoes and Catch lies this restaurant/bar/cafe. This place could not be more different from the other two, whereas they are usually bursting at the seams, this place is buzzing, but not packed. It is a Jamaican bar, so this is reflected in the decor of the place. The music policy is a mixture of old skool hip-hop, soul, jazz. The place is very friendly, the bar staff seemed to be enjoying themselves, and they serve beer (Red Stripe, of course) on draught. More like somewhere you'd expect to stumble across in Brixton.
- Bar Kick, 126-127 Shoreditch High Street, ☎ +44 871 332 2959. Normal pub hours. A two floor bar with plenty of table football machines to thrash away at. If you can not get a table the bar has a few sofas to wait for your turn in the quirky surroundings. It is a friendly place, where there is a mix of trendy boys and girls and suits from the city.
- Catch, 22 Kingsland Road, ☎ +44 20 7729 6097. M-Th normal pub hours, F-Sa until 2AM. A slightly shabby but friendly bar on the small strip of bars on Kingsland Road. Downstairs they have limited seating and draught beer, but upstairs is where it is happening. In the week you can catch live bands and on the weekends there's DJs playing xfm music mixed with a bit of cheese. It is also free to get in. Bargain.
- The Masque Haunt, 168–172 Old Street, ☎ +44 20 7251 4195, . M–Sa 9AM–11:30PM; Su 9AM–11PM. If you are into pubs and pub food, and especially the J.D. Wetherspoon concept, this is a very good spot. It is priced a notch under its more central sister pubs. The extensive menu consists of a good selection of general healthier pub food (pastas, salads, vegetarian burger, etc), but also traditional food like potato & mash, fish & chips. For a good deal, go for the 2 for 1 at £6.99. Also, check out either the Sunday club (roast), Steak club (tuesday), and Curry club (thursday) for a nice treat - as of 2006.
- 333, 333 Old Street, ☎ +44 20 7739 5949, .
- Cargo, 3 Rivington Street, ☎ +44 20 7739 3440.
- The Comedy Cafe, 66/68 Rivington Street, ☎ +44 20 7739 5706, . W-Th 7PM-midnight F-Sa 6PM-1AM. The bar itself is terrible, only serving up a choice of watery beers to hold on to while watching the entertainment. Although they do not have any big name comedians, there's a few lesser knowns that are worth catching before they make it on to TV. Wednesday is an open mic night, this can be excrutiating or hilarious, depending on your luck. Admission: W free, F £12, Sa £15.
- Herbal, 10-14 Kingsland Road, ☎ +44 20 7613 4462, . Tu-Th & Su 9PM-2AM, F-Sa 9PM-3AM (times may vary according to night, check with the club). A two floor club that currently hosts residencies from some big artists and labels such as Hospital Records, Grooverider's Grace, Shy FX's Digital Soundboy, Jazzie B's Soul II Soul, Liverpool's Chibuku Shake Shake, Goldie's Metalheadz, and Kila Kela's Spit Kingdom. Downstairs is an open dancefloor, but upstairs is more of a stylish bar and there is a lovely roof terrace perfect for cooling down after breaking a sweat in the club. Drinks are reasonably priced for the area although it is certainly not cheap! There is no dress code however suits may feel a bit out of place. Entry prices can vary from free to over £10 but most nights are much cheaper if you arrive before 10:30PM.
- ibis London Docklands, 1 Baffin Way off Preston Road, London E14 9PE, ☎ +44 20 7517 1100, . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 12AM. Ibis London Docklands hotel is an economy London hotel in the Docklands area. Your hotel booking puts you minutes walk from the commercial and financial hub of Canary Wharf, and a short light rail journey from ExCel and the O2 Arena. The 87 modern guestrooms all come with satellite TV and internet access. You can enjoy a snack or a light meal at the Café. City Airport is just 5km from the hotel, and there is secure onsite parking for up to 30 cars. From £64.
- City Hotel, 12 Osborn Street (Osborn Street leads directly to Brick Lane from Whitechapel High Street). A fairly average two star hotel at typical London prices, however the rooms are clean and provide the basic facilities you need. The area isn't pretty but you are close to where all the action is. Roughly £60/night for a double/twin.
- The RE Hotel London Shoreditch, 419-437 Hackney Rd E2 8PP, ☎ +44 20 7613 6500, . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. The RE Hotel London Shoreditch, the latest addition to London’s fashionable ‘East-End’, is just one mile (8 minutes) from London's financial district “The City" of London and near Liverpool Street Station - ideal for Stansted and City Airport and just 15 minutes from the London Olympics 2012 Park - Stratford. From £69.
- Travelodge London Docklands, . A gem of a hotel for this area at a highly affordable price for London. It is a modern branch of the ubiquitous budget hotel chain, but is well located almost next to East India DLR station, which has links directly to central London, and is just a few stops from Canary Wharf itself. A fantastic place if you want somewhere comfortable and private in London for a weekend or even a week!. Ask for a room on the front to avoid the busy road at the back. The website often has fantastic rates that can be as low as £9.
- Britannia International, 163 Marsh Wall (tube: South Quay). Extremely modern three star hotel.
- City Hotel, 12 Osborn Street (At the end of Brick Lane, tube: Aldgate 100m), ☎ +44 (0)20 72473313. WiFi £5/day. Normal rate is £140 but you can deals around £60.
- Custom House Hotel, 272-283 Victoria Dock Road (tube: Custom House, opposite Excel), ☎ +44 20 74740011 ([email protected]), . £120.
- Four Seasons Hotel Canary Wharf, 46 Westferry Circus, Canary Wharf (tube: Canary Wharf/Westferry), ☎ +44 20 7510 1999, . Five star hotel and the most upmarket hotel in the area with views across the Thames or Canary Wharf, offering the kind of 5 star luxury to be expected from this chain.
- Hilton Docklands, 265 Rotherhithe Street (20 minutes to London City Airport), ☎ +44 20 7231 1001. Located on the South bank of the River Thames the hotel has a great view of Canary Wharf.
- Marriott West India Quay, 22 Hertsmere Road (tube: West India Quay), ☎ +44 (0)20 70931000. Looking out over Canary Wharf's beautiful district, the Marriott combines elegance and comfort to create a welcoming environment.
- Ramada London Docklands Hotel and Suites, 2 Festoon Way, Royal Victoria Dock (tube: Prince Regent, next to the ExCel exhibition centre), ☎ +44 8701 118779, . Four star hotel with aterfront position and modern comfortable accommodation and including suites for longer stays.
The East End in the past has had a bad reputation due to its high rates of crime and poverty. Today though, The East End is generally much safer and just the normal precautions after dark are advisable. People of the East End have pride in their home, so it would be wise to tread carefully around regulars in pubs and bars in places like Whitechapel, Mile End and Bethnal Green, but most people are warm, friendly and interested in you as a traveller providing you behave with the respect and deference due from a visitor. In the same vein, avoiding mention of football is helpful in keeping things smooth.
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