|The winding streets of London’s Shoreditch district are lined with renovated industrial warehouses and historic buildings.|
From East to West, some of London’s grittiest neighborhoods have blossomed into happening hot spots replete with amazing dining, shopping, art, theater and sightseeing. All week we’re running a special report on London’s hottest up-and-coming neighborhoods – here’s everything you need to know to sell Shoreditch.
Buzzy and bursting with energy, Shoreditch is an eclectic mix of art, fashion, food and fun, set in a mix of renovated industrial warehouses and historic buildings nestled between leafy park squares and winding streets. The gentrification of this area has been so dramatic that now when any neighborhood in London improves, they say it’s been “Shoreditched.” It all started in the 1990s when the YBA (Young British Artists)—most notably Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst—reclaimed old warehouses for studios, attracting further artists, slick galleries, indie fashion, followed by trendy hotels, cool restaurants, and recently the tech hub of London, The Silicon Roundabout. Sitting on the edge of the City of London, where all the major banks and offices are located, makes the hipster heartland of Shoreditch a fantastic option for business or leisure stays.
Already home to London’s trendiest hotels (The Hoxton Hotel, Shoreditch House and The Boundary), Shoreditch witnessed the opening last year of Ace Hotel on Shoreditch High Street, which quickly became the new hot spot. Following the winning formula for hip hotels, the lobby is a reception, coffee shop, bar, lounge and a retail shop all rolled into one. On our visit it was buzzing with the chatter of creative types—from students to CEOs—using it as a workspace and meeting place. In the evenings, up-and-coming DJs play to a tattooed and jean-clad crowd drinking Sipsmith gin and tonics. Later on, the party heads to Miranda, a nightclub in the basement.
The Ace made a smart choice in hiring London-based Universal Design Studio architects. The minimalist interior and exterior of the 258-room hotel is kicked-up with unique art works—murals, music collages, photographic wallpaper and typographic prints—creating a fun vibe. The low-lit bedrooms have unusual touches such as denim bedspreads, gray-hoodie bathrobes and plastic crates instead of drawers. For more kicks, all rooms have retro Rega turntables with a selection of vinyl, an acoustic Martin Guitar, and Revo radio with Ace-curated radio station. We saw room #223, a Superior Deluxe Double, which had a comfortable layout with a king bed, large corner sofa and an oak table for dining or work. Touring Tip: Ace teamed with cult bike brand tokyobike to offer three-hour guided cycle tours. Bikes can also be rented by the day.
The three-meal restaurant Brasserie Hoi Polloi, run by Bistrotheque, is known for its inventive pop-ups and has a street entrance through the hotel’s charming flower shop. Once inside, wooden booths, punchy music, slim-hipped waiters in Nikes, all make for a party atmosphere. The newspaper-style menu is fashionably British, featuring seasonal, local ingredients with menu choices creatively mixed alongside info on galleries and articles about nearby culture.
When we visited, they had just put the final touches on a rooftop bar and several meeting spaces on the seventh floor available for private functions of up to 150 people. All offer panoramic views of Shoreditch, the Gherkin and the City of London, some with terraces. Travel agents with questions should get in touch with Olivia Ross, director of sales. The GM is Martin Newbould.
|Ace Hotel’s rooftop bar and terrace affords panoramic views of Shoreditch and beyond.|
Day and night, there is something going on in Shoreditch. The famous Brick Lane, Columbia Road Flower Market and Spitalfields markets are all nearby with an unusual selection of crafts, vintage, flowers and bric-a-brac shops and stalls. For an ongoing rotation of “pop-up” shops, check out Boxpark. Some of our favorite dining options are here: try London’s best bagels and salt beef (like pastrami) at Brick Lane Beigel Bake (open 24 hours), or sample the world’s strongest beer at craft brew pub Brew Dog, for proper English, try “nose to tail” cuisine at St. John Bread & Wine or edgy fine dining at the uber-hot Clove Club. The area truly comes to life at night; book a booth and sip champagne at the sexy Beach Blanket Babylon, swill cocktails in former meatpacking hotspot Loungelover or just head back to Miranda at the Ace.
Stay tuned to www.travelagentcentral.com for the rest of our London’s Hot Neighborhoods Special Report, where we’ll be covering Holborn, Shepherd’s Bush and top London day trips.