Filled with trendy new coffee shops and pop-ups, Shoreditch attracts the twenty- and thirty-somethings seeking the soul of the city.
As far as London areas are concerned, Shoreditch has become somewhat legendary over the last few years as a by-word for young, cool and creative London. Although some would say it’s lost a little of its grubby charm as rising rent prices have pushed out young entrepreneurs and brought in city workers craving a short commute instead, it’s still home to a brilliantly diverse range of shops, restaurants, bars and attractions, as well as excellent transport links to all over the capital.
While previous inhabitants have tended to move further into East London to areas such as Dalston and Haggerston, Shoreditch still remains the epicentre of most East London activity, and is largely populated by twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings seeking the soul of the city. It’s also a very historic area of London as we’ll explore below, so many are attracted to the old-school atmosphere and traditional business and markets still existing alongside trendy new coffee shops and pop-ups.
This juxtaposition is what makes Shoreditch such an exciting place to live, as the contrast between the traditional formal financial sector of the city and the small creative businesses of East London give the area a great sense of diversity when it comes to eating, drinking and going out. Slick city bars are situated next to pop-up burrito shops, Michelin-starred restaurants just minutes from the bustling curry houses of Brick Lane, and small winding streets of Victorian terraces are shadowed by epic modern skyscrapers. There’s an invisible line drawn between the two somewhere near Box Park, a collection of shipping containers filled with small shops and cafes, but you’re as likely to find yourself with neighbours working for Deutsche Bank as a freelance graphic designer - albeit one doing very well.
On a map
Located in East London in the Borough of Hackney, Central Shoreditch is within the postcode EC2, but extends into E1, E2 and various others as the boundaries between the neighbouring areas of the City, Old Street, Shoreditch and Bethnal Green become increasingly blurred.
History of Shoreditch London
Although now considered as a relatively central area due to the never-ending sprawl of London, Shoreditch was once a part of Middlesex and only became part of London in 1889, showing how rapidly the city has developed. Rumour has it the area was named after Medieval king Edward IV’s mistress Jane Shore, although evidence to the contrary suggests it was known as 'Soersditch' for a long time before, in reference to the original boggy nature of the area.
As a former major coach route to the north of England it has had a rich history since the Romans, with an ancient church (mentioned in the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons, no less), an Augustinian Priory and the first playhouse in England during the Tudor period. In the 17th century it was popular with Huguenot silk weavers fleeing persecution in France, leading to the establishment of the textile and furniture industry in the area which can still be seen today with streets such as ‘Fashion Street’.
Things declined a little during the 19th century with much poverty in the borough, although it also offered many theatres and music venues. Since the 1990s it has seen huge waves of gentrification leading to the Shoreditch we see today, although not without controversy and protestations that the original working-class nature of the area is being rapidly eradicated.
Transport to and from Shoreditch London
You’d struggle to find a better connected area than Shoreditch for commuting to work and traveling across London (and further afield), as its served by the enormous Liverpool Street railway station which offers the Central Line, Circle Line, Hammersmith & City Line and Metropolitain and City Line, as well as trains to Cambridge, Stanstead, Essex and beyond.
As for the Overground, Shoreditch High Street Station will take you most places in the expanse of East London and South London, while the area is also inundated with bus services and the popular Boris Bikes should you prefer two-wheeled transport.
Meanwhile if you work in the City, you might even be able to walk to work depending on your location - Liverpool Street to Bank is just a 10 minute walk.
Cost of Living in Shoreditch London
Once renowned for offering huge warehouse-style apartments with cheap rents, the cost of living in Shoreditch has now risen by a staggering 46% in just three years. In contrast, Central London has seen a rise of just 20%, showing how relatively unaffordable Shoreditch has become since regeneration began in the 1990s.
There’s a lot of competition for property, and most of the rentals coming on the market are new-build apartments or converted commercial buildings. There are practically no houses available, so for outdoor space it’s better to look further out in East London.
In 2015, the average rental price for a two-bedroom property in Shoreditch is £3,100 per month, although properties can found starting from around £1,600 per month.
Restaurants in Shoreditch
A relatively new addition to the Shoreditch dining scene, this cool restaurant in the Second Home building just off Brick Lane offers sharing plates of Middle Eastern and Ashkenazi cuisine in a vibrant contemporary setting, complete with curved roof and orange floor. Come for an intimate meal and nurse a cocktail at the bar until late.
Address: 68-80 Hanbury St, London E1 5JL
Phone: 020 3818 3241
Perfect for quiet lunchtime work meetings or a romantic dinner for two, the smart subtle interior reflects the sophisticated Italian menu which is refreshingly small and simple, with no distractions from the quality ingredients. The restaurants namesake dish, La Tagliata Di Manzo and the Il Pollo Ripeno are the most popular dishes, but leave room for dessert!
Address: 11 Sandy’s Row, London E1 7HW
Phone: 020 7247 2818
A poorly-kept secret amongst London foodies, Lyle’s offers brilliant British food in a very minimalist, Scandinavian-cool setting. With renowned chef James Lowe at the helm the eight-course tasting menu is a feast for both the eyes and tastebuds - recent dishes have included nettle soup with cured pig cheek and pan-fried lamb sweetbreads.
Address: Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High St, London E1 6JJ
Phone: 020 3011 5911
Korean food fans are bound to fall head over heels for On The Bab, a new hotspot in East London which is already receiving rave reviews. This relaxed eatery on Old Street specialises in Korean-style rice dishes including Kimchi Arancini and seafood stews, while the setting is pure Shoreditch with exposed brickwork and low-hanging lights.
Address: 305 Old St, London EC1V 9LA
Phone: 020 7683 0361
Beloved British chef Jamie Oliver set up Fifteen over a decade ago as part of his Fifteen Foundation which helps disadvantaged youths get into the catering industry. Many years later its still going strong, with a Modern European menu starring fresh produce and seasonal ingredients, as well as a cool neighbourhood cocktail bar.
Address: 15 Westland Pl, London N1 7LP
Phone: 020 3375 1515
Housed in a stunning Grade II listed former chapel, Galvin La Chapelle is one of the crowning jewels in Michelin-starred chefs the Galvin brothers’ crown. Boasting an epic wine list, opulent interiors and a luxurious French food, it’s the ultimate restaurant for a special occasion.
Address: 35 Spital Square, London E1 6DY
Phone: 020 7299 0400
For more suggestions, check out our guide to the Best Restaurants in Shoreditch!
Shops in Shoreditch
Hunting for some chic menswear? Urban Excess on Kingsland Road has all manly sartorial needs covered with a wide range of exclusive names and new, up-and-coming designers. It’s also a great place to come for inspiration on current contemporary menswear trends.
Address: 96 Kingsland Rd, Shoreditch, Greater London E2 8DP
Phone: 020 7739 6751
French label APC have long been known for their cool Gallic clothes featuring just the right amount of casual nochalance, and this Shoreditch outpost is no exception. Come here for the perfect Breton t-shirt and a wool peacoat that wouldn’t look out of place in the streets of Paris.
Address: 15 Redchurch St, London E2 7DJ
Phone: 020 7729 7727
Step back in time with this homeware and interiors shop selling everything your Grandmother had in her house before it was vintage and cool. With everything from classic work aprons to wooden rulers, it’s a treasure trove of retro products from your home and garden.
Address: 85 Redchurch St, London E2 7DJ
Phone: 020 7729 6253
Sister shop to the vast cavern of Absolute Vintage, Blondie is perfect for those who like their second-hand wares to be curated and well-organised rather than spend hours rummaging through bargain boxes. They’ve got all sorts of items from 80s glam sequined tops to comfy cowboy boots, so you never know what gem you might chance upon.
Address: 114-118 Commercial St, London E1 6NF
Phone: 020 7247 0050
Things to do in Shoreditch
Part of the world-famous Soho House group, this popular members-only club is arguably THE place to see and be seen in East London if you’re part of the affluent creative glitterati. With a bar, restaurant, gym, curated series of events and the nicest rooftop pool this side of Soho it’s no wonder the waiting list is rumoured to be a few years long for regular folk. Not to worry though - it’s become so ubiquitous among Shoreditch-ites that you’re bound to find a friend with a membership so you can tag along.
Address: 1 Ebor St, London E1 6AW
Phone: 020 7739 5040
Shoreditch’s rich history in textiles and furnishings is properly explored at the beautiful Geffrye Museum, which specialises in the English domestic interior. Named after former Mayor of London Robert Geffrye, it’s a wonderful place to explore even if you don’t feel particularly interested in sixteenth century furnishings.
Address: 136 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8EA
Phone: 020 7739 9893
If you’re tired of overpriced popcorn and blockbusters at the Odeon, give the cinema at local independent cultural hub Richmix a try instead. Showing a mix of current hits and independent films on three screens throughout the week, there’s also performance spaces and regular shows for all your cultural needs.
Address: 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA
Phone: 020 7613 7498
While technically a restaurant and bar, The Book Club actually offers a wide range of quirky events and fun activities too, including arts and crafts classes, life drawing, talkings, literary salons and club nights with big-name DJs. Come for brunch, stay for a session and end the night in the basement club!
Address: 100-106 Leonard St, London EC2A 4RH
Phone: 020 7684 8618
Feature image credit: Kevin McDonagh