I am definitely biased when it comes to Hackney. It was the first area I lived in when moving to London, and while I wasn’t particularly enjoying life in Britain’s capital back then, I loved Hackney from day one. It’s impressive to see how much an area can change in just two years; my former colleagues for example, often didn’t know about London Fields & Broadway market, thinking I lived in zone 3 or 4 (when really it’s in zone 2…).
Nowadays it seems as if – everyone, tourists included – has discovered this part of Hackney; Broadway market is always super busy, hip rooftop bars & coffee shops keep popping up around London Fields, and if you go a little bit further up, towards Hackney Central, you’ll see new organic juice bars and trendy restaurants appear on a regular basis. As I’ve just moved to a different area a few weeks ago, I thought it would be a good occasion to write about some of my favourite ‘old neighbourhood’ spots.
This little street lies hidden between London Fields park and Hackney Central. There’s a cool mix of places clustered together: among them are a few good coffee shops – one of them even being the home of London Fields Radio – a vintage clothing store, a classic barber shop and a boutique that sells random things such as ‘hip’ watering cans.
I’m not talking about tons of shops here, so you’ll have seen it all in half an hour maximum probably. It is however a pleasant pocket to spend some time enjoying a nice cup of coffee with a piece of cake, or a delicious bacon sandwich, followed by a mini session of window shopping.
Speaking of coffee and cake, further down the road there’s Violet, famous for its cupcakes and other sweet creations. The place is pretty popular, with people coming from all over London to satisfy their cake cravings. Especially during the weekend – even more so when it’s sunny – Violet can get crowded and you’ll see people queue. So if you want to go, try to do so on a weekday or early in the morning if it’s weekend.
London Fields Park & Lido
From Wilton Way it’s only a short walk to London Fields park and its lovely Lido. The Lido cafe has a super nice terrace – yes, it’s in the sun -where I loved to wake up with a cup of coffee and a piece of their home made banana bread or go for lunch and have their huge falafel wrap. They usually have a copy of that day’s Guardian as well, perfect for your daily dose of news! Obviously the Lido’s primary function is as a pool, and it’s a great place to go for a swim; the pool is 50 meters long and outdoors, but heated during the winter, so open all year long.
A very popular pub in the London Fields area is the Pub On The Park (POTP). The place is surrounded by an immense terrace, has good enough food, and – as a cool little feature – there is a stroke of land to play a game of French boules.
And there is more. On the other side of London Fields, close to Broadway market, there is the chilled rooftop of Netil 360. Besides a pleasant place to enjoy a drink it also serves as a work place; the only thing they ask for is that you get a coffee (or any other beverage) from the bar, not a lot to ask thus, and their coffee is among the best ones I’ve had in the area. The Wifi works perfectly and on top of that you get to enjoy a pretty decent view…
One of my favourite walks goes through London Fields, over Broadway Market where I then take the towpath alongside the canal either towards Islington, or towards Victoria park. As this post is about Hackney, let’s ‘take a left’ and walk to Victoria Park. Despite the many cyclists – I have to admit, I’ve cursed them many times when strolling along the canal – racing through London over the towpath, it’s a nice route to walk. The biggest plus being the fact that there are no cars, and the fun part being the boat watching; I love reading the names people give their floating homes, or admiring the mini-gardens they’ve created on their roofs.
I know, Victoria Park is not entirely situated in Hackney, but part of it is and that’s all I need for now. Compared to London Fields, Victoria park is a lot bigger, so on hot days you’re definitely more likely to find a quiet spot here. Besides a lot of grass, there’s a lake where you can go for a boat ride, a Chinese pagoda – don’t ask me what exactly it’s meant to do there – and a lot of children’s playgrounds. And that’s not even all of it; there are 2 coffee shops, several tennis courts, and even a small pool for kids. Needless to say you can easily spend some time in Victoria park, actively as well as passively.
Voilà, plenty of reasons to spend a day in lovely Hackney! Next time you find yourself wondering what to do on a lazy Sunday, or what London area to discover, you know where to go.