How Florence Found: Shoreditch

There has been rather a lot of talk about my weekend in London almost 2 weeks ago (where to stay, what to wear and Notting Hill trips,) I do hope I’m not boring anyone… I also know I’m yet to share my destination guide to the Brecon Beacons (but fear not, it’s coming soon.) However, I thought I shouldn’t let this one linger on and as my friends The Lawsons, Ian and Emma of Big Bouquet and Simon Fazackarley are all off to Shoreditch (and staying in The Hoxton too I might add) soon, I wanted them to get the benefit at least and before I forget everything too!

Pete and I spent Saturday afternoon and Sunday wandering around various areas we had been recommended so I’ll share it as we did it, with links to eateries and shopping spots and a couple of maps in case you’re planning a trip too. 🙂

Day One…
On Saturday afternoon, we had already been to Notting Hill, but after dropping off our bags at The Hoxton we headed out again to have a walk around the local area. We aimed for Redchurch Street going off the recommendations from this blog post.

First off we hunted down The Albion, recommended as a great place for brunch/lunch or even drinks. It reminded me a lot of the places I normally visit around my part of Manchester. Fronted by a grocery style store with artisan goods and freshly baked treats, we lingered before choosing a brownie for late night snacks and a salted caramel tart. I’d definitely go back for lunch and loved the all white decor with rustic touches.

Carrying on along Redchurch street there weren’t as many shops as I thought there would be but we found Labour and Wait, which was similar to Baileys home and garden with all kinds of household items that were properly made from wood and cotton. I also went into Aubin and Wills and despite trying lots of things on was quite disappointed to leave empty handed.

We were pretty tired by this point and in need of refreshment, so we headed back to the Hoxton Bar, but not before booking a table at the Legendary Pizza East. So many of you recommended it and I am possibly the world’s biggest fan of pizza, so I had to go and check it out. Boy was I not disappointed.

Pizza East is enormous, a massive disused warehouse, complete with industrial chic salvage decor (see why I liked it?) and a brilliant menu. The pizza was amazing and we also had a couple of antipasti style plates, but the highlight for me was the awesome dessert. We shared the doughnuts which were hands down, the best I have ever tasted. They arrived huge and puffed up, pipping hot on the plate steaming and covered with sugar. On the side was a pot of molten chocolate, totally unnecessary with the doughnuts themselves but brilliant eaten with a spoon after! Each one when bitten into was like a little cloud of heaven. Light as a feather and empty with tons of sugary sweetness. They made me very happy. 🙂

View Florence’s Shoreditch in a larger map

Day Two…

Sunday morning we had a leisurely plan for getting up and checking out of The Hoxton, as we had places to go. First up was The Breakfast Club. I’ve long been hoping somewhere would make a Breakfast club in Chorlton where I live, somewhere serving boiled eggs, good porridge with toppings, granola, kind of a Le Pain Quotidien type of place. In lieu of this when I heard about The Breakfast Club I was pretty excited. Focusing on the all American breakfast, one of my favourites, the decor is kitsch and retro in equal measure and we had to queue for a table but not for long. I had a stack of maple pancakes with bacon and syrup and a huge smoothie, way too much for just me but it was awesome!

Needing to walk it off we headed to Columbia Road flower market, another place that was absolutely heaving with people, and flowers of course! It was really pretty and we were lucky, the weather was gorgeous, so it made for a nice stroll, but we didn’t get to look at the flowers much because of the bustling crowds! If you’re into mid-century modern design, I spotted an independent gallery space at the beginning of Columbia Road called Two Columbia Road, with some brilliant pieces if you have the budget to spend on them! (I wanted the Hans Wegner Easy chairs.)

Image taken from Skinny Latte and totally unrepresentative of how busy it was when we visited!

I spotted a gorgeous looking cafe at the end of it all, (that my camera sadly missed) though and there were tons of shops I could have stopped and looked in but I was feeling rather harassed so we hurried on. If you’re there and it’s not a Sunday though, I’d definitely recommend taking a stroll over just to see the shops.

Image taken from Two Columbia Road.

Tiny street art near Columbia Road.

Still with time to kill, we walked towards Brick Lane and stumbled right into the middle of their food market. There was everything for sale, a multi-cultural melting pot of curries, juices, sweet treats and interspersed market stalls selling everything from suspiciously ‘off the back of a lorry’ type goods to tat and bric-a-brac. It was perfect for people watching and brought us out close to the famous Spitalfields Market.

Less of a market and more of a covered shopping centre, I was a bit underwhelmed by the Market, although the central area was full of market stalls that seemed rather out of keeping with the space. There were loads of restaurants there though and a really nice area outside where we sat in the sun thinking about our journey back.

View Shoreditch Sunday Stroll in a larger map

On the way back we spotted another cute place to stop but didn’t have time to go in – right behind the Hoxton – The Book Club. I’ll be going next time! Other places we didn’t get to go were Lounge Lover, a cool cocktail bar behind Redchurch street and The Great Eastern Dining Room which is opposite and a little further along the same street The Hoxton is on.

Image taken from Yatzer.

And if you’re looking for a little culture, The legendary graffiti artist Banksy has practically made Shoreditch his canvas. If anybody knows where I can direct readers to find a DIY tour of his works, please let me know in the comments box below…

Phew! That was a mammoth post!

I hope it’s useful to some of you at some point and as always, if you have anything to add, fire away. Also a massive thank you to those of you who have contributed to the recommendations I followed – we had a great weekend thanks to you all!


Recommended: The Hoxton Hotel, Shoreditch.

I always think it’s difficult to choose a hotel, particularly when visiting London. If you’re not familiar with the city, you want somewhere central, but if you’re visiting to do the main sights, there often isn’t much in the way of evening entertainment around tourist hotels. On this trip, Pete and I were visiting with the specific intention of discovering some of the less touristy areas of London and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t set foot near Oxford Street during the whole trip. I also always look for hotels that look great, design is important to me both at home and away, but it’s always difficult to reconcile the price tag you often get with that standard of hotel when you’re going to spend limited time in the room.

On that basis, The Hoxton hotel was perfect for us. Only 2 stops on the tube from Euston and then a 5 minute walk away, we arrived on Friday night to the buzzing bar atmosphere, keen to start the weekend as we intended to go on. We made a table reservation and then headed up to the room.

The paper, scissors, stone cushions in the room and the neon industrial lighting in the corridors at The Hoxton. (If you would like to see the hotel gallery images, click here.)

The Hoxton is quite industrial in feel with the corridors having cool neon lighting and metal edged walls. Rooms are small but well proportioned, still fitting in a chaise lounge and desk (dressing table to me,) with plenty of room for getting ready even with two of us. Our room had a large rain shower and plenty of sink space – The Hoxton‘s marketing blurb is resolutely no-nonsense and straight talking, with lots of sensible solutions to make your stay more comfortable. The soap is a whole bar of pears that you are encouraged to take home and instead of a seldom touched mini bar, the fridge holds 2 complimentary bottles of mineral water and some fresh milk for your morning coffee tray.

Our room. (If you would like to see the hotel gallery images, click here.)

My favourite thing? Designed by the founder of the Pret a Manger food chain, your breakfast is a Pret lite bag, with yogurt pot, banana and fresh orange juice. For me, that translates to a hotel stay with breakfast in bed. I prefer to eat as soon as I wake up and hate getting ready to go down for breakfast. I end up getting so hungry I’m either grumpy when I get there or go down half ready, a sight for sore eyes. We had coffee in bed and woke up in a leisurely fashion, chomping through the bits on offer whilst planning our day out.

The Pret lite breakfast in our room. Bacon sandwiches and the full English can also be taken in the grill downstairs.

After we checked out the room, I did a quick change and went for dinner in the Hoxton Grill. We had so many recommendations of places to eat but reserved them for a future trip because the Hoxton Grill is pretty special. There’s a retro American feel to the open restaurant and bar which adjoins the lobby, with large stone fireplaces, lots of exposed brickwork and leather banquettes alongside salvage style chairs and tables. The menu lists lots of American style classics too. Pete opted for the ribs after we shared lamb meatball sliders and I had sea bass while we worked our way through the cocktail list. Pete’s summed the atmosphere up nicely, saying he felt like ‘we should be paying in dollars‘. Even better, we slipped upstairs straight fron the table and hit the sack earlier than is strictly rock and roll.

A selection of Instagram images that I snapped of our dinner choices that night.

I really enjoyed our stay and would definitely recommend the hotel, but the location makes it even better, slap bang in the middle of sexy Shoreditch with so much on offer. I’ll be spilling the beans on where we went and all your recommendations in another post soon. If you want to stay at The Hoxton it pays to book early. There’s no mysterious pricing system, with rooms starting at £69 when booked 6 months ahead and rising towards the date of arrival. Our second night was £129 which I still think is an amazing price for a cool London hotel in a great location.

Have you stayed at The Hoxton or will you be considering it next time you visit London?


Disclaimer: Rebecca stayed for one night as a guest of The Hoxton, but if she wouldn’t recommend it to a friend, you wouldn’t be hearing about it here.

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