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Dealings in the Ditch

Shoreditch used to be an area best avoided; indeed, the ‘ditch’ in question was probably a boggy suburb of London’s City back in Saxon times, known as ‘Sewer-ditch’. Gentrification and its proximity to the financial City of London changed this area into a hub of artistic creativity and art in the 90s, and this former ‘ditch’ became uber-cool. Then the bigger businesses edged in and the City crawled ever closer. Now Shoreditch is a rather enticing mix of great bars and restaurants, some excellent small galleries, and very expensive real estate.

There are a couple of trendy haunts to inhabit when looking for a place to stay. The newly opened Shoreditch Ace Hotel turns a formerly mundane Crowne Plaza into a hip den with a fantastic restaurant in Hoi Polloi, and all of it is rather ace. The Boundary has a fabulous rooftop restaurant bar and an excellent streetside ‘caff’ called the Albion, great for watching hipsters cycle bumpily along the cobblestone street on their single-speed bikes. It also has lovely, bright and colourful rooms and another smart restaurant in the basement. The Hoxton is the place to gather around a roaring fire in the winter and enjoy a hot toddy. The rooms here are smaller but much more affordable. Finally, Shoreditch House (part of the Soho House Group) has just 26 rooms and a fun rooftop pool and bar area, plus plenty of lounges where you can pretend to work on your laptop.

Alternative London offers very good walking tours of this part of East London, showcasing the street art that crawls across available wall space. They have young, savvy guides and tours are run on a pay-what-you-like basis.

As for restaurants and bars, you really are spoiled for choice, from excellent gastropubs like The Princess of Shoreditch, to fantastic cocktail bars like Nightjar and Happiness Forgets. The Clove Club is one of London’s best new restaurants and Tramshed features a massive Damien Hirst cow and only serves steak and chicken. For shoppers, BoxPark is a delight, bizarrely but successfully consisting of refitted shipping containers, now containing a plethora of tiny shops. Redchurch Street is the place to stroll and browse boutiques like Labour & Wait, and wee, charming cafes such as Maison Trois Garcons.

Anton himself could offer a very comprehensive walking tour of Shoreditch, but he’s too busy planning trips all over the globe. If you’d like a hand with your trip to London, just give us a shout to get started.