Travel 5 minutes 22 May 2024

Hackney: London's Hipster Paradise

Discover the best and trendiest places to eat and stay in Hackney, Shoreditch and beyond

Situated in northeast London, Hackney is often considered to be one of the city’s main creative hubs, a district filled with markets, music and delicious food galore. The boundaries of the Borough have fluctuated over the decades, and so too has the locals’ conception of what defines Hackney. As well as the former Metropolitan Borough of Hackney (sometimes referred to as Hackney Proper), a broader understanding of the area also includes the smaller Metropolitan Boroughs of Stoke Newington and Shoreditch.

One thing that has become clear in all of these neighbourhoods over the last few years, is that they are the home of the London hipster. The term ‘hipster’ originated in the 1950s and 1960s, with words like ‘hippie’, as young people began to rebel against societal expectations in the post-war period. ‘Hipster’ then became increasingly used in the 2010s for young people who made alternative fashion choices and took a particular interest in niche hobbies like craft beer and knitting.

Although today it’s often used with a slight tone of mockery, there’s still something noticeably and wonderfully hipster about Hackney. Its proliferation of art galleries, microbreweries and speciality cafés are a delight to visit, for locals and tourists alike. It’s a relatively green part of London to visit too, having been named London’s greenest inner-city borough and a great borough for cyclists.

Where to Stay in Hackney

Once you’ve made your way to the Borough of Hackney, there’s a wide range of Michelin-recommended hotels to choose from. Two of our favourites are in the bustling Shoreditch neighbourhood, which sits south of ‘Hackney Proper’ but is closer to the city centre and major train stations, so makes the perfect base for exploring.

Nobu Hotel London Shoreditch
Nobu Hotel London Shoreditch

Nobu Hotel London Shoreditch was the first Nobu hotel to open in Europe, easily spotted thanks to its unique, ultra-modern exterior. The brand’s Japanese origins aren’t overt in the design, but still visible in a consistent minimalism that runs throughout the property. While other parts of the hotel draw some inspiration from its Shoreditch surroundings, it also feels separate from it – a self-contained little world away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Alternatively, opt for a stay at Mondrian London Shoreditch, redesigned by Clerkenwell-based design studio Goddard Littlefair with influences from Miami and Spain. Take in the views on the heated rooftop with a cocktail, or as you swim in the pool, before going downstairs to dance the night away in the jazz club. Just a few steps away from your room, Dani García’s BiBo serves flavourful Spanish tapas in a stylish setting – perfect if you’ve had a long journey.

Day 1

For the first day of your hipster-ish tour round the Borough of Hackney, we’re going to stay in Shoreditch – because there’s just so much here to enjoy. Start your day at Beigel Bake, the 24/7 bakery in Brick Lane whose bagels have been voted the best in London; established in 1974, it has been serving the local community for over five decades. You can grab a classic like salmon and cream cheese or test out the more unusual southern fried chicken or falafel options.  If you prefer a sit-down breakfast, The Hoxton Grill at The Hoxton offers a US-inspired menu served in a semi-industrial interior with comfortable red leather booths.

Beigel Bake on Brick Lane in Shoreditch
Beigel Bake on Brick Lane in Shoreditch

Once you’ve fuelled up for the day, it’s time to explore. Shoreditch is full of small businesses from vintage shops to cat cafés; Aida, APC and Modern Society are just a few of the spots not to miss. For a taste of the niche shopping options in the area, the London branch of French outlet Le Colonel offers unique bow ties, ties and braces crafted in Lille. If it’s a Sunday, have your camera at the ready for the Instagram-friendly Columbia Road Flower Market for a wonderful sensory experience. Alternatively, get to know the area through a tour of the local street art.


Frankly, you’re spoilt for choice in Shoreditch, especially for quality restaurants frequented by the trendier London residents. With delicious small plates inspired by the various regions of Italy, Popolo is deservedly the recipient of a Michelin Bib Gourmand for the great value it provides. Pair your moreish agnolotti or risotto with low-intervention wines selected from small producers.


A similarly well-priced and Italian-inspired option is manteca, which began life with pop-ups in Mayfair and Soho. Now in a bright, stylish building on Curtain Road, manteca’s sustainable ethos means they employ nose-to-tail cooking and prepare everything in-house. Take their in-house salumeria, for example, with salumi made on-site from British rare breed whole pigs.

Finally, One Michelin Star Brat has been a key player in the development of London’s restaurant scene in recent years. A Basque-inspired approach of cooking over fire is applied to produce of superb quality, and the scent of charcoal fire as you enter will awaken your stomach. The restaurant’s name comes from the Old English word for turbot, with whole turbot one of their specialities.

Day 2

For your second day, head north from your hotel to ‘Hackney Proper’ and enjoy all that Broadway Market has to offer. Dating back to the 1980s, it’s a veritable foodie paradise on the weekend, showcasing London’s diverse gastronomic offering. The queues are worth it, but to really maximise your time, scout out the stalls you want to visit beforehand using their online directory. 

Broadway Market
Broadway Market

Afterwards, head just north of Broadway Market to the outdoor pool at London Fields Lido. While the weather in London can be temperamental, at least the water at the Lido is heated! Make sure to book beforehand as outdoor swimming is extremely popular among Londoners. If you’d rather stay dry, then a walk around London Fields will do just fine.

Next, it’s time to refuel with lunch at Planque, a bold restaurant framed by two railway arches. The apparent simplicity of their dishes hides a complexity complemented by wines from small-scale and low-intervention producers. Alternatively, head to the locally beloved Pophams bakery and grab a pastry and some sourdough to keep you going.


If you’re feeling more hands on, then instead of buying your sourdough, why not learn how to make your own an E5 Bakehouse workshop? There, you can also discover how to weave a basket (perfect for shopping in Hackney’s markets) with experienced weaver Femke.

If all of this isn’t hipster enough for you, then you can’t go wrong with a visit to Hackney Church Brew Co. Here, they make the most of having their own grain mill by producing delicious craft beer – the nectar of hipsters everywhere.

To round off the day’s activities, spend some time at Hackney Museum, where you can discover the people who have shaped the Borough over the millennia from Anglo-Saxons to refugees from the Second World War. The exhibitions chart Hackney’s development from a retreat for the nobility in the Tudor period to a centre of the Victorian textile industry (echoed by the area’s many vintage clothing shops) to the hip Borough of today.


The Clarence Tavern
The Clarence Tavern

If you’re visiting from outside the UK, then you can’t come to London without experiencing a good British pub. Take the overground from London Fields to Stoke Newington to arrive at The Clarence Tavern, where the 19th Century building fuses with some contemporary touches to keep the place feeling cool and modern. Hearty portions of delicious pub fare – like chicken, leek and bacon pie – plus a good selection of natural wines make this one of London’s best dining pubs.

After an early dinner, 18th Century Abney Park Cemetery makes for a great spot to finish your evening. It hosts live music events and (if you come back in the daytime) even ‘soil séance’ sessions to tune into the frequencies both above and below ground.

Day 3

For your final day in Hackney, start off at the open-air Netil Market, where you can find coffee specialists, handcrafted ceramics and vintage fashion as well as tasty food and craft beer at the bar. Events are also regularly held at the studios on-site.

After this, indulge your cultural side at the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & UnNatural History. Past exhibitions have included ‘Haunted and Cursed Dolls of Greyfriars Kirkyard’ and ‘Badass Women – Rebel Women from The Apocrypha’, casting light on little-known aspects of human history. After browsing the latest idiosyncratic exhibition, head down to the Absinthe Bar run by the owners of the UK’s first absinthe distillery, Devil’s Botany. If you want to learn more, they have regular talks on atypical topics like ‘Fin-de-Siècle Satanism in Bohemian Paris’; all talks are accompanied by a complimentary glass of Devil’s Botany absinthe for you to sip on of course.


One of the most exciting and, indeed, hipster areas of Hackney that you are yet to visit is Hackney Wick, in the east of the Borough not far from Stratford and the former athlete’s village from the 2012 Olympics. To get here, take a stroll from the museum through Victoria Park.


For dinner, you have two fantastic options. Silo is considered to be the world’s first zero-waste restaurant and is the recipient of a Michelin Green Star. A strong zero-waste philosophy extends throughout the restaurant, from their fermentarium downstairs to the upcycled furniture that populates the interior. Special mention goes to their ‘siloaf’ bread made using flour milled in-house, and the subsequent ‘siloaf ice cream sandwich’ for dessert.

Alternatively, dine at One Michelin Starred Cornerstone, where you can enjoy innovative seafood dishes like cuttlefish ‘cacio e pepe’ which showcase the kitchen’s exceptional technical expertise. The faux-industrial setting with exposed pipework adds to the appeal, fitting naturally with the trendy buzz of the place.

So there you have it. Whether you’re a hipster or not, Hackney has plenty to offer visitors, and plenty for them to eat too.

Address Book

Abney Park Cemetery, 215 Stoke Newington High St, London N16 0LH
Beigel Bake, 159 Brick Ln, London E1 6SB
Broadway Market, London E8 4PH
Columbia Road Flower Market, Columbia Rd, London E2 7RG
E5 Bakehouse, 396 Mentmore Terrace, London E8 3PH
Hackney Church Brew Co, 17 Bohemia Pl, London E9 6PB
Hackney Museum, 1 Reading Ln, London E8 1GQ
Le Colonel, 127 Brick Ln, London E1 6SB
London Fields Lido, London Fields West Side, London E8 3EU
Netil Market, 13-23 Westgate St, London E8 3RL
The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & UnNatural History, 11 Mare St, Cambridge Heath Rd, London E8 4RP


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