You can find a piece of Brooklyn anywhere in the world. Even in London, the city we typically associate with Harrod’s and high tea. You have to go a little east, of course, to find it, in the area known as Shoreditch. Like Bushwick and the LES, it’s in a grittier part of the city, as the graffiti art might indicate, two transfers away from the main tourist hubs, but fully equipped with its own artisanal coffee shops and cute boutiques. You can very well spend a weekend here without ever having to venture out west, as we nearly did during a recent getaway.
We stayed at The Hoxton, a newish boutique hotel with a fun, contemporary vibe that reminds me of the Ace Hotel chain. There’s the same hip lounge that serves as a co-working space for entrepreneurs during the day and converts into a bar at night. The rooms and amenities are all very new and modern, although the rooms are pretty cozy. As a Millennial traveler, you probably aren’t spending too much time in your room, you just want something clean and pretty, plus some complimentary water and a basic breakfast thrown in there, and that’s why The Hoxton is so perfect.
If spending a few days in the Brooklyn of London sounds like something you might want to do, and with the exchange rate going in our favor, it probably will be, read on for an itinerary of how I spent my time there that you can reference.
Day 1 – After checking into the Hoxton and dropping off our bags, we were ready for lunch. Luckily, we had made reservations at The Clove Club, a former supper club turned buzzy fine dining restaurant located right in Shoreditch at the former Town Hall. The Clove Club is a Michelin star restaurant that holds the 26th spot on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, so a lunch here is not exactly a casual affair. You really should go for the tasting menu in order to get the full experience like the dry-aged free range roasted duck and the famous buttermilk fried chicken starter, but if not, you can also order a la carte. Reservations are highly recommended, and note that for dinner you need to pay for your meal in advance. Read the full recap here.
After that epic lunch, we walked it off by taking a stroll along Columbia Road, which is home to a lot of flower shops and specialty stores. On Sundays, the whole street turns into an open air flower market. It was sunny and beautiful out, so we stopped by Albion, a pretty shop that sells a small but carefully curated selection of fresh produce, baked goods and snacks, and also operates a casual restaurant. Albion is part of the Boundary Project, which consists of a boutique hotel with a beautiful rooftop, so we took our coffees upstairs to enjoy it al fresco. Boundary specializes in gin and tonics, so we each ordered one, and they were very strong.
To walk off our buzz, we took an Uber out to LN-CC, an online retailer with a physical showroom out in nearby Dalston. You wouldn’t expect this random part of Shacklewell Lane, which is home to a lot of ethnic Turkish businesses, to be the headquarters of a cutting edge shop, but it is. LN-CC has an aesthetic similar to Totokaelo and La Garconne, and the formerly by-appointment store is now open to the public. The space is so much more than just a showroom, it’s designed in a way to feel more like an immersive experience at a modern day gallery. The entrance leads into a dark tunnel where different chambers on the sides are carefully merchandised with both men’s and women’s clothing like Marni and Saint Laurent.
We mostly browsed the beautiful but expensive pieces at LN-CC and headed back toward Shoreditch for dinner. It’s a little crazy to be thinking about dinner after a tasting at The Clove Club, but we couldn’t turn down a chance to try Lyle’s, another Michelin star restaurant in the neighborhood. Lyle’s recently broke into The World’s 100 Best Restaurants, so we were pretty excited about having dinner here. The space is very modern and minimalist in the manner of the Danish aesthetic, and dinner consists of a 4 course set menu for £49. The 2nd course, a plate of bobby beans, peach and duck liver, was excellent, as was the quail.
81 Great Eastern St, London EC2A 3HU, United Kingdom
+44 20 7550 1000
The Clove Club
Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old St, London EC1V 9LT, United Kingdom
+44 20 7729 6496
45 Redchurch St, Shoreditch, London E2 7DJ, United Kingdom
+44 20 7749 9809
18-24 Shacklewell Ln, London E8 2EZ, United Kingdom
+44 20 3174 0744
Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High St, London E1 6JJ, United Kingdom
+44 20 3011 5911
Day 2 – As much as we loved hip and trendy Shoreditch, we couldn’t avoid the more classic parts of London. Neighborhoods like Marylebone and Mayfair are just too pretty! To get us in the mood for a high-end window shopping trip on Mount Street, we had lunch at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in Hyde Park at the very elegant Mandarin Oriental. The ambitious menu traverses centuries of British gastronomic tradition, but the flavors and technique are thoroughly modern. Get the meat fruit as a starter and the tipsy cake for dessert. For the full recap, click here.
We took the tube to visit the London branch of one of our favorite retailers, Dover Street Market. The locale in London is just as unique and off-kilter as the one in New York, and it also has a Rose Bakery on the premises, which was exciting. It feels a little bigger, and there obviously is more space devoted to European-centric brands like Brioni and J.W. Anderson. After browsing through the racks of Comme des Garcons and balking at the prices of a Vetements hoodie, we ordered a green juice and a flat white and did some people watching.
We made our way to Mayfair, a posh part of London home to a mix of niche and luxury boutiques. A stop at the Hermes store showed that, no matter where you go in the world, this store will be filled with wealthy Chinese and Middle Eastern tourists snatching up expensive accessories as if they were nothing. I preferred the Celine store, which was much more civilized, and at the current exchange rate, the Celine bags are cheaper than they are in the States.
A trip can’t just be all eating and shopping, you’ve got to throw a little culture in the mix. A visit to the newly renovated Tate Modern museum is the perfect way to do this, plus it doesn’t cost any money to visit the permanent exhibits, although a donation of 4 pounds is suggested. The scope of artists represented is impressively broad, ranging from Picasso and Degas, to more modern artists like Olafur Eliasson and Louise Bourgeois. A cursory walkthrough will take you a good 1.5-2 hours.
It was dinner by the time we were done looking at the exhibits, so we made our way back to Shoreditch to have some Indian food at Dishoom. Dishoom is not your typical Indian restaurant. It has a sensual, clubby vibe that’s more Meatpacking than Curry Hill. Plus the food, especially the Chicken Ruby, is excellent. Good food + great scene = long, long waits. We were told that our table wouldn’t be ready for over an hour, news that was not received very well by a famished me. However, we decided to suck it up and waited at the packed bar, ordering some apps to hold us over. It was a decision we did not regret.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA, United Kingdom
+44 20 7201 3833
Dover Street Market
18-22 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4DG, United Kingdom
+44 20 7518 0680
155 New Bond St, London W1S 2UA, United Kingdom
+44 20 7499 8856
103 Mount St, London W1K 2AP, United Kingdom
+44 20 7491 8200
Bankside, London SE1 9TG, United Kingdom
7 Boundary St, London E2 7JE, United Kingdom
+44 20 7420 9324
Day 3 – It was our last day in Shoreditch. We had time for a brunch at Andina, a bright and airy Peruvian restaurant in the neighborhood. Anything with corn or corn cake in it is a home run, and the pudin de maiz is the real star. After a meal of the pudin, granola and avocado toast, we walked towards the Columbia Road Flower Market to see what pretty bouquets and arrangements were being sold. The flowers here are a real steal, but unfortunately we had to catch a plane to our next destination. The next time we come to Shoreditch we’ll leave enough time to enjoy a bouquet in its full bloom.
1 Redchurch St, London E2 7DJ, United Kingdom
+44 20 7920 6499
Columbia Road Flower Market
Columbia Rd, London E2 7RG, United Kingdom