Looking for new places and fresh scenes to explore between hitting the books? Here’s our shortlist of London’s best underground scenes and hot-spots.
London Fields – Situated in the Borough of Hackney, there is plenty to do in London Fields, including taking a dip in London’s only heated outdoors Olympic-size swimming pool, Lido. There is also an extensive cycle trail and even a BMX track, for the more adventurous. For weekend activities, check Broadway Market on Saturdays for its rapidly expanding crafts and vintage market.
For nightlife, check out Portside Parlour, which, if you can manage to find (it’s a bit of a local secret), is well worth your time. The stellar cocktail menu and the cozy and lush furnishings makes it one of Hackney’s most hip pop-up bars.
Hoxton – Hoxton is the go-to place for a quirky nightlife experience. Among it’s hidden gems are unique and intimate pubs and speakeasies such as Nola, which features a Bayou inspired drinks menu and is literally tucked inside The Bedroom Bar, another great Hoxton bar/club. It’s also one of the few areas in the city where a night out doesn’t necessarily mean taking a hit in the pocketbook. Other local venues that offer a creative and reasonably affordable drinks list includes Happiness Forgets, The Nightjar and Callooh Calley, the latter of which is also known for serving beverages in gramophones.
Dalston – The more recent extension of the East London Line has made getting to Dalston a relative breeze from many parts of the city. It’s definitely the place to go if you want to have fun on little to no budget. There are at least seven free independent galleries, including Transition Gallery, Invisible Line Gallery and Doomed Gallery, with any number of shows and events on. And who knows, you might even spot a Banksy. Dalston is also home to the “pay what you can” theatre, Arcola, which allows you to literally pay what you can every Tuesday night. Performances are normally around £18 and the suggested donation is £5, however, there isn’t any pressure.
For nightlife, check out Vortex, which hosts jazz, experimental and world music nights, amongst others, with a first-class line up of performers.
South of the River:
Deptford – Just off of the DLR, Overground and East London lines, Deptford is reminiscent of old-school Shoreditch before all the regeneration made it a bit too hip. The area is full of local character and there is a vibrant underground art culture. Check out the galleries along Resolution Way, located near the exit of Deptford High Street Overground station. The Bird’s Nest pub also hosts regular exhibits from local artists and art collectives. The area is renown for its “junk market,” held on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The market is full of hidden bargains and rare items. If you can catch it early enough, you can snag some serious vintage electronics before market regulars have a chance to pick out the best items.
Other local venues of note include the Royal Albert and the old Deptford Police Station, which is now used as a free communal space to host art installations and other events. With local realtors starting to call parts of Deptford “West Greenwich,” you can bet that the area is definitely an up-and-coming hotspot.
Britxon – Brixton’s had a rough rap for awhile, but within recent years it has come a long way. There are quite a few options for nightlife, including the well known pub/club Hootananny, one of the hottest locations for London’s top ska, reggae and hip hop acts. There’s always something interesting to do on any given night. We also recommend paying Effra a visit for its chilled retro vibe, live music and sense of local community.
Telegraph Hill – If you haven’t yet visited Telegraph Hill park, then you are missing out on quite the view. The top of the hill offers a beautiful skyline view of London that you won’t see anywhere else. The area also boasts Open Studio events and has an annual festival to celebrate the arts. This year the Telegraph Hill Festival takes place from 21st March to 6th April and is packed with fine art installations, interactive workshops, Open Studios, Reggae music and even dog shows. Although it’s usually a more quiet residential area of London, the local artistic community comes out in droves during these events, so we recommend you check it out and take in the view.