SHOREDITCH: A GUIDE TO THE LOCAL AREA
Shoreditch, once home to William Shakespeare in the 16th Century, is now home to the hipster, to pop-up shops and vintage fairs, and to the third largest cluster of technology companies in the world.
Since the mid-1990s, Shoreditch has been increasingly popular and fashionable. Home to Russell Brand, Noel Fielding and Damien Hurst, the area has become known for its vibrant and varied nightlife, restaurants, bars and quirky shops.
A quick history:
Over the past 10 years, Shoreditch has been at the centre of a technological boom. In the early 2000s, the area started to attract the attention of creative technology start-ups that took advantage of the lower rent prices for office space. These companies tended to gravitate towards the Old Street Roundabout, which soon became known as Silicon Roundabout – a direct allusion to Silicon Valley in the USA. The East London Tech City, as it is now known, is the third largest cluster of technology companies in the world – coming in just behind New York and San Francisco.
As Tech City developed from Silicon Roundabout, it gained the attention, support and encouragement of the UK government and international technology companies like Intel, Facebook, Google and Cisco. In 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron gave a speech announcing plans to help the acceleration of growth in the area. By 2011, the number of start-ups in the area had risen from 85 to around to hundred, a figure that has only continued to rise.
One of the area’s original start-ups, Songkick is a website and mobile application that allows users to create personal calendars for music events and to purchase tickets for the events. The personalised service allows users to keep track of their favourite artists via emails which inform them of nearby gigs. The service sells tickets on behalf of musicians around the world.
When Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus had difficulties transferring money, they created TransferWise to make international monetary transfers easier. Since its launch in 2011, over £3 billion has been transferred using the service. Delivering on their promise to be the new way to beat bank fees, TransferWise now supports over 300 transfer routes worldwide.
Lost My Name
An independent publishing and technology company, Lost My Name was founded in 2013. The company produces personalised children’s picture books from their website. The company was founded by three dads and an uncle and last year announced a $9 million series led by Google Ventures.
Things to do
Shoreditch has something for everyone, from quirky bars and great restaurants to vintage boutiques and vinyl treasure troves, making it the perfect place to work, bring clients and enjoy and after work drink.
Early morning coffee and a bite to eat:
For coffee-lovers and caffeine addicts, there’s nowhere better than Shoreditch Grind. Based the Old Street Roundabout since 2011, Shoreditch Grind serves top-notch coffee, sourdough toast and a whole host of baked goods. It is also open 18 hours a day serving great food and – into the night – cocktails. Get in and get your coffee quickly, otherwise you may not leave.
Ways to spend your lunch hour
Near Old Street Roundabout
Quick Eat: The William Blake
Named after the British poet buried just around the corner, the William Blake is a traditional pub serving classic pub lunches. Come here for good, quick lunch with your work mates.
Out for lunch: Princess of Shoreditch
Despite being a gastropub, The Princess of Shoreditch has an upstairs dining area that’s perfect for quiet conversations and business meetings. Great food and a good selection of drinks.
Near Geoffry Museum
Quick Eat: Mien Tay
Despite the decoration – which could frankly do with a quick lick of paint – Mien Tay does great, authentic Vietnamese food that’s easy on the wallet and great on the palate.
Out for lunch: Beagle
Tucked away beneath the arches of Hoxton Overground Station, Beagles serves locally sourced food that is incredibly well cooked and presented. There’s also cocktails courtesy of renowned mixologist Myles Davies and a fine selection of craft beers. The perfect location for a meeting with clients or after work drinks.
Near Shoreditch High Street
Quick Eat: Beigel Bake
Something of a local legend, Beigel Bake is notorious not only for serving bagels 24/7 but for the sheer size of the portions. Although there are usually queues, these bagels are more than worth the wait. Try the salt beef and mustard, you won’t regret it.
Plus, if you’re in the mood for a bit of a walk, Petticoat Lane – just a five minute walk away – is Brick Lane’s slightly cheaper cousin. There’s stalls serving everything from falafel to Jamaican jerk, and it’s definitely worth the walk to try the chicken katsu wrap.
Out for lunch: St John Bread and Wine
A simple, straight forward restaurant that serves great food at a reasonable price – the staff are extremely helpful, and the place has a relaxed, cool atmosphere. Perfect for a lunch with clients or a catch up with your network.
Spend your lunch hour getting lost in the culture
You’re almost spoilt for choice for ways to spend your lunch hour in Shoreditch. If you’re interested in vintage fashion, simply throw a stone and you’ll hit a boutique, market or fair selling everything from leather jackets to vintage sunglasses.
Vintage for women:
Absolute Vintage – open since 2003, Absolute Vintage has solidified its claim as one of the best vintage shops in the area. Behind the Union Jack doorway lies a treasure trove of vintage pieces – from jewellery to dresses – that are guaranteed to make you look cool, but not like you’re trying too hard.
Vintage for men:
Beyond Retro - One of Brick Lane’s most prominent vintage ships, Beyond Retro has lots of reasonably priced vintage items in its converted dairy shop. Browse through the jackets, scarves and shirts all to the sounds of an incredible rock’n’roll playlist – just the thing to get you in the mood to buy that Harrington, leather jacket or pair of winkle pickers that you’ve got your eye on.
Other ways to spend your break
If you’re more of a music aficionado, be sure to pop into Rough Trade – the home of the record label that signed The Libertines, The Smiths and Arcade Fire – to pick up the latest releases. Like a lot of Shoreditch shops, has an exceptional collection of vinyl available.
Or, if you’re interested in modern art, simply take a walk around Shoreditch. The home of Damien Hurst, Shoreditch has always encouraged its local art scene, from graffiti murals to Jonesy’s bronze statues on the top of lampposts. Maybe even pop into Tramshed for a bite to eat – Damien Hurst’s cow in formaldehyde hangs over the eating area.
Be sure to pop in to a pop-up too. BOXPARK, on Bethnal Green Road, is the first pop-up shopping mall and offers a whole range of pop ups, from the vintage fashions of Nordic Poetry to the sugary (but also healthy) goodness of Dum Dum’s Donutterie, which serves handmade and significantly lower fat baked doughnuts.
Let your hair down after work
As the capital’s capital of cool, there’s no shortage of great watering holes to go for a quick drink, a post-week celebration or a good old fashioned night out.
If you’ve always dreamed of being Al Capone, Bugsy Malone or Jay Gatsby, then Nightjar Bar is the place for you. A prohibition themed bar that has live music events and serves exceptional cocktails. Don’t forget your trilby.
Looking for a slice of New York in Shoreditch? McQueen’s is an American-style cocktail bar that oozes cool. Sit down, relax and sip your Old Fashioned like Don Draper.
Forget about Carling, Stella or Kronenburg, BrewDog will be having none of that, thank you very much. Instead, BrewDog focus solely on serving the best craft ales – from the popular Punk IPA to the dark, malty Alice Porter. To top it off, it’s all served in a cool, industrial looking bar with exposed brick, bare lights and iron fixtures.
Forget everything you know about cocktail bars – this place throws all of the rules out of the window. Run by maverick cocktail maker Ryan Chetiyawardana, this bar tells you to forget everything you ever knew about cocktails – it uses no ice, no perishables, no sugar and no fruit. One cocktail can even contains ambergris – yes, whale secretion. However, somehow – despite everything – it works. It shouldn’t, but it definitely does. Check it out, even just to say you have.
Looking for cocktails but without the pretention? Callooh Callay is the bar for you. The toilet may be hidden behind a secret door in the wall – make sure you learn where it is early and commit it to memory, you’ll thank yourself later – but the rest of the bar has been designed to be fun and relaxing. Cocktails have silly names (Fennel Countdown is a classic) and the staff are friendly and very un-hipster. The perfect place for Friday night drinks.
There is a wealth of different ways to keep fit in Shoreditch. Frame focuses on making getting fit fun through specifically designed activities and exercises. It’s understanding of everybody’s hectic lives, and tries to be as flexible with its schedule as possible.
If you are looking for something a little stranger or a little less serious, The Book Club on Great Eastern Street offer a twerking class.
The nearest tube stations are Old Street, Liverpool Street and Moorgate, but you can also get the Overground (to Old Street and Liverpool Street again).
Plus, you can get the DLR to Bank and take the 15 minute walk to Shoreditch, passing though the banking district as you walk.
Working in Shoreditch
Shoreditch is a great place to work – the atmosphere, the sense of community and the creativity are all infectious. You’ll get to work at the heart of the UK’s technology business alongside brilliant businesses and exciting start-ups. Not to mention, you’ll be spoilt for choice for food, drink and entertainment, both in and out of working hours.
Flickr / Sarah / Creative Commons
Flickr / Misha Popovikj / Creative Commons