London 2012: what to do near the Olympic Park

london-olympics-2012Areas around the Olympic Park have been bubbling with activity for some time. Hackney Wick in particular is a neighbourhood rich

with community and cultural life. Lower Clapton, a little further north, has seen a spate of new and interesting businesses.

Starting on Morning Lane in the middle of Hackney, grab a bite at Railroad (120-122 Morning Lane, E9, 020-8985 2858, railroadhackney.co.uk). The menu features seasonal food from various cultures, but that’s not the only draw: they hold readings and gigs in the basement space and have a tiny bookshop. If you’re after artisan sandwiches and cakes, Chatsworth Road in Lower Clapton offers great options. Our personal favourite, Cakey Muto (25 Chatsworth Road, E5, 020-8533 5788), serves cakes (obvs), Mr Hair’s Brighton pies and zany art. Bring your own mix CD, like The Hives have, and load it into the free jukebox. There’s also a great market here on Sundays from 11am-4pm.

The warehouses and industrial units of Hackney Wick, at the eastern end of Victoria Park, are home to several creative enterprises. Jamie Lowe’s antiques shop, Imperial & Standard (10 Felstead Street E9, 07754 553778, imperialandstandard.com), doubles as a prop rental gallery, so he can make a living from but not have to part with his treasured items. Two doors up, the Pista Resistance bike shop (no phone, no website, not even a sign on the door – it’s that cutting edge) offers fixed-gear bikes (from £50 to £3,000) made almost wholly of recycled parts (some with beautiful Benotto frames). Swing by for a chat, or an education in the history of road riding from owner Pia. Round the corner is See Studio (13 Prince Edward Road, E9, 020-8986 6477, seestudio.com), owned by Hackney Wick champion Daren Ellis, and currently showing new works from British contemporary artist Nick Waplington.

Hungry? The Hackney Pearl (11 Prince Edward Road, E9, 020-8510 3605, thehackneypearl.com) is a brasserie with great homemade food; The Counter Cafe (7 Roach Road, E3, 07834 275920, thecountercafe.co.uk), a canalside brunch spot, does possibly the best bacon sandwich in London. Those with a fatter wallet might try historic east London salmon smokery H Forman & Son (Stour Road, E3, 020-8525 2399, formans.co.uk), which also houses a bar, fine dining eatery and art gallery with great Olympic views.

The Yard (Unit 2, Queens Yard, White Post Lane, E9, the-yard.co.uk), a cross-cultural project between architecture and theatre junkies, plans to reopen in April this year, while word has it The Hive (Unit B16, 22 Smeed Road, E3, on.fb.me/wyE3EJ), a project and performance space, hosts very cool events ranging from trapeze artists to political talks and warehouse parties.

Make your way over to Stratford on the Greenway, a public walking/cycling path atop a Victorian sewer. If you’ve got the kids, hit story centre up Discover (383-387 High Street Stratford, E15, 020-8536 5555, discover.org.uk) for some hands-on imagination exercising and then The Pie Crust Café (273 High Street Stratford, E15, 020-8534 2873), which fronts as a greasy spoon, but is rumoured to serve the best Thai eats in the area.

Chloe McCloskey, publishing editor of lecool.com, a hip guide to London

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