Out of my Comfort Zone Part Two: Playing in East London!
So now it is time to share what to do and where to shop in East London – and there is plenty! So read on and plot your own escape to a new and exciting part of London that perhaps hasn’t been on your radar before….
SHOP: There are some great options to choose from, and for those of you who love vintage it is everywhere (we note one below but ask Dr. Google for more)! From Westfield in Stratford City, to on-trend boutiques and a quirky chocolate shop in Brick Lane, there is something for everyone in this neck of the woods!
The Vintage Emporium: Only offers vintage from the Victorian era to the 50’s but well worth a visit. This is not cheap vintage. There are exquisite pieces on offer that are original and rare – so this is the price of scarcity. There is also a Victorian style tea room as well, so you can immerse yourself in true vintage style from start to finish. www.vintageemporiumcafe.com
Westfield Stratford City: Right next to where the Olympics were held. Not to everyone’s taste, however it does house a lot of good stores all under one roof. Think All Saints, Reiss, Berksha, Cos, Karen Millen, Jaeger, Hollister and several others including the ubiquitous Zara (which is better up in the northern hemisphere than the Aussie offering). Worth a visit if you want to find several brands all in one place.
Opening Ceremony: This US based brand has literally just opened its doors in Shoreditch High Street, at the Ace Hotel. Offering both men and women’s fashion there are lots of vibrant prints and tropical designs. According to the corporate blurb, OC stands for newness and the exuberance of discovery. A perfect fit for the ultimate Travelling Diva. www.openingceremony.us
Sandro: Parisian concept store, Sandro has been around since the mid 80’s. They produce gorgeous elegant, feminine and easy to wear clothing. Just opened at Canary Wharf, this store focuses on women only, which again is a perfect fit for the ultimate Travelling Diva – check it out if you love cashmere, leather, silk – you won’t be sorry. Oh and by the way, Canary Wharf is also heaving with wonderful boutiques that will require another day out to shop! www.canarywharf.com
Burberry Outlet Chatham Place: For those of you who love this brand (and who doesn’t) they now have an outlet in Chatham Place. You can save up to 80% on luxury clothing, shoes and accessories but like every outlet you can have a good or bad day depending on stock available. Note: arrive early on weekdays to avoid the large queues of Chinese and Korean tourists.
Dark Sugars Chocolate Shop: After all the shopping and sightseeing a girl needs a chocolate fix and this is just the place to do it. Situated in Brick Lane, the chocolates are handmade and beyond divine. Just don’t mention the world Lindt! Not to be missed for those of you who are chocaholics. www.darksugars.co.uk
Old Spitalfields Markets: This is a great place for little indie designers and stockists, with a myriad of clothing and accessories stalls available throughout the market floor. On the outer areas are more established brands. If you love antiques and vintage then Thursday is your day, and Friday specialises in art and fashion. www.oldspitalfieldsmarket.com
SEE: There is heaps to see and do depending on what it is you are after. From Jack the Ripper to art galleries at their best there is absolutely something for everyone. These are some of our favourites, and some suggestions from others who love the area.
Hotpod Yoga Roofpod: Yes yoga with a view. Hot yoga for those who like to push the boundaries a little further, and you get a view as well. The first rooftop yoga air-clad in the world so why not try it out? This one is in Hackney, and there are also outposts in Brixton and Notting Hill (definitely not East London) – but not without a view. www.hotpodyoga.com
The Jack the Ripper Tour: Even the music on the website lifts the heart rate. Sounds corny I know, but it is not. Evening tours start at 7.30pm, 7 days a week (do it once daylight saving has finished to get a little more atmosphere in the dark). Leave your cynic at home and perhaps watch the Whitechapel series just before you go just to add to the experience. www.jacktherippertour.com
19 Princelet Street Synagogue: This only works if there is a group of you and you pre-arrange a private tour before arrival as they are not open to the public on a regular basis. The building was once a Protestant Huguenot weaver’s house and looks like nothing on the outside, but inside there is a beautiful secret Victorian synagogue that was built by Jewish immigrants over the former gardens of the house. www.19princeletstreet.org.uk
V&A Museum of Childhood: If you are travelling with the kids then this is an excellent place to visit. It is dedicated to children, their games and their toys. From the 1600’s to the present day, it has something that will appeal to kids (and adult kids) of all ages. www.vam.ac.uk/moc Vyner
Street Bethnal Green: Art lovers unite. If you love a gallery then you need look no further than Vyner Street. There is a broad range of galleries available to suit every taste, and if you are around on the first Thursday of each month, emerging and established artists rub elbows when all the galleries on the street open their doors to their not-so-private views.
Victoria Park: gorgeous place if the sun is shining, to just wander and hang out in a lovely green space in the heart of London. Also has a couple of jogging tracks for those who like to get some air into the lungs.
Ragged School Museum: If you want to get a sense of Victorian London (sans the opium) this a good option. Check out the classrooms where children in the late 1800’s were given the opportunity to learn. www.raggedschoolmuseum.org
Dennis Severs’ House: If you are looking to do something a little different then this might be the ticket. Severs transformed his Georgian terrace house into the home of a fictitious family of Huguenot silk-weavers. What he called his ‘still-life drama’ is now preserved and run by the Spitalfields Trust. Why not visit on a Monday and Wednesday evening for one of the ‘Silent Nights’ where you wander through the 10 rooms in silence and the end with champagne and a Q&A with curators. Fascinating! The museum is not open every day so check the website for details. www.dennissevershouse.co.uk
So there you have it. These tips are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of places to shop and things to do. If you are going to London, I recommend stepping into this part of the city, whether it is to stay, play, shop or eat. It is worth effort for a totally different London experience.
Chief Diva, Andrea XO