Writer Elizabeth Aaron takes us around some of her favourite places in Hackney. Aaron worked for Alexander McQueen, Jonathan Saunders and Givenchy while studying at the London College of Fashion. Her first novel Low Expectations is GIRLS meets The Devil Wears Prada in Dalston. Low Expectations is out in the UK on July 17th with Quercus Books. Look out for the Low Expectations book trailer, featuring costumes from the AW14 Fyodor Golan collection ‘Crocodile’ at the end of June.
Shop at: While away a sunny weekend afternoon on Brick Lane and the nearby Spitalfields. Wander past the markets where young designers have set up their stalls, the more established boutiques and vintage stores on your way towards Shoreditch High Street. With an array of delicious street food to tempt you, bars, restaurants and great people watching, you might find you stay there until the midnight hours.
Eat at: Mare Street is slightly off the beaten track for a tourist, but has trendy new restaurants at reasonable prices such as Bouchon Fourchette (French bistro) and Rita’s (a hodgepodge of flavours). Rita’s has delicious, slightly odd, sweet-savoury combinations such as Bacon-Peanut Brittle and Szechuan Pepper Squid alongside more traditional southern fares such as Green Chilli Mac and Cheese. Alternately, have a browse online to see if one of the many food festivals, such as Feast, are on!
Drink at: Just off London Fields, where hipsters BBQ on a hot summer’s day, Broadway Market is full of bars, pubs and restaurants- as well as selling delicious street food and knickknacks on the weekend. Off Broadway is a small, lively pub where you can enjoy a cold beer in good company. As the night goes on, go into the basement and push the Ship-style door to try the hidden rum cocktail bar PortSide Parlour.
Party at: Centrally located near Old Street Station, XOYO is a club/gig venue with reliably excellent resident DJs and bands over two floors. With smoke, lasers, neon lights and the rest, you can let your hair down and dance. It’s hot, so be prepared to get sticky! Open until 4am on weekends, this can be a rarity in London. Chat up the smokers to see what after-parties might be going on…
Stay at: Boundary Hotel on Redchurch Street is a boutique hotel with an excellent organic café, the Albion, as well as a French restaurant in the basement (and a wine club, Château Boundary, for oenophiles!). In the summer months, the rooftop terrace is a beautiful place to get cocktails or dinner and enjoy the view.
Listen to: Make Gypsy by Nneka part of your playlist.
Hidden Treasure: Go to Columbia Road Flower Market on a Sunday to buy a beautiful array of flowers, before brunching at The Royal Oak pub.