It’s easy to poke fun at Shoreditch. The area is a curious blend of hipsters and suits that has seen a lot more chains arriving in recent years. But it’s still a place where creativity and tech thrives—where start-ups, independent shops, eateries and bars fight to fend off the corporate takeover.
Here are ten things to do in Shoreditch without the need for a hedge fund.
1. Check out street art
You could easily spend the day looking at Shoreditch street art. There’s plenty to see just by wandering close by Shoreditch High Street Station (Overground), but Whitby Street, Brick Lane, Princelet Street, Seven Stars Yard and Redchurch Street are all worth a look too. There are other more ‘off-the-beaten-track’ places too like Allen Gardens.
2. Hang out at The Book Club (day or night)
By day, The Book Club is cafe across two floors in a old Victorian warehouse with a ping pong table and temporay exhibitions. It’s worth popping in at night though, there is always something going on including short films, hip hop club nights, spoken word, life drawing, and sex talks with ranging from free to around £12.00.
3. Go to Dennis Severs’ House
Folgate Street, just off Spitalfields has plenty of fancy-fronted houses, but no. 18 has all its treasures behind closed doors. There is no sign up, but there is a sturdy, black door and some red shutters that make it stand out.
This is not your average museum experience, folks. Dennis Severs was an artist who intended his former home to live on as “still-life” drama (as he put it) and portrait of the lives of a family of silk weavers from 1724 until the turn of the 20th century.
Visitors are guided through a spooky, atmospheric tour of the home’s 10 rooms with sounds and smells to tease the senses. You’ll need to plan a visit, as tours only run on Sunday and Monday afternoons, with the odd evening tour, which is conducted in silence—so soft shoes only and shhh!
4. Browse vintage shops and markets
For thrifty threads, head to the streets around Brick Lane and Shoreditch High Street. There you’ll find secondhand clothes and bargains at places like East End Thrift Store.
Brick Lane is home to vintage chain Rokit Vintage, where among the colourful shades and 80s denim are recycled accessories made from old materials. Talk wander down Cheshire Street, and you’ll come to Beyond Retro with everything from 70s vintage to old military get-ups.
If you prefer market stalls to shops, then Brick Lane Vintage Market is open seven days a week for you to peruse anything from 1920s hats, befeathered capes, vintage wedding gowns and sharp suits.
5. Peruse books at Libreria
If you need a rest stop for your feet, and some fuel for your mind cogs, visit Libreria bookshop on Hanbury Street. It’s run by Second Home—a big, orange coworking space across the street. But you won’t find laptops and lattes here, the vibe is cosy, minimal-ish and quiet, soft lighting, light wood interiors and snug reading nooks.
6. Watch bands at Rough Trade East
The original Rough Trade is in Portobello, but the one in Shoreditch—Rough Trade East—is the bigger of the two stores. Here, you can catch regular music gigs, which are either free or free with purchase of the act’s record.
The store had to temporarily stop putting on shows in 2008 after a free Radiohead gig drew enormous crowds. But most bands are on the smaller-to-medium end of the fame register with plenty of lo-fi, indie and electronic gigs.
7. Shop, eat and drink at Boxpark
Boxpark is the world’s first pop-up mall where independent shops and brands sell their wares from old shipping containers. There’s plenty of street food from the likes of east London pizza favs Voodoo Ray and Piemiister, and Black Bear Burger among others—and craft beer too.