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London, Visit, 2015-06-29

Getting out of the city, exploring Stoke Newington

This is a guide for those who have already visited London quite a bit and wish to discover a different part of this exciting city. Take the bus North East and you’ll end up in a cozy neighbourhood that has so much to offer and is perfect to spend your day.

I would describe Stoke Newington, also know as Stokey, as the Prenzlauerberg of London. Clean with a multi-cultural influence, a lot of young hipster parents and brunch spots. It has the best of both worlds, a beautiful park and a shopping street with a large selection of stores. It’s a part of London which is perfect to visit on a Sunday, when you feel the need to escape from the vibrant but busy city centre.

Staying the night in Stokey can also be a good plan. There are a couple of B&B’s, but also quite a few affordable options on Airbnb. It’s only 20 minutes by foot to the lively nightlife from Dalston where you can dance to Italo-disco til morning comes. All the busses take you straight to Shoreditch and Liverpool street, 30-45 minutes on the bus with a tour of this part of town. You can also take the DLR to Liverpool street where you can switch to the tube. Cherry on the cake: the bus to Stokey stops right in front of St Pancras where you arrive with the Eurostar.

I always travel with Eurostar to London. Although by plane would be faster, it really is a benefit arriving in the city centre instead of having to sit on the train/tube for another hour or more. You don’t have to worry about your luggage either, you can always bring a second bag with all the stuff you bought during your stay. For me those two hours are perfect for a nap or a movie on my iPad with a G&T from the Eurostar bar. Make sure to have a look at the Eurostar Deals or subscribe to their newsletter, that’s how I stay updated on their promotions. If the price difference between Standard & Standard Premium is small, I would book it. Believe me, it’s worth the money. You’ll have more space, it’s a quiet area and you get a meal. And good news for those smartphone-addicts, you can charge your phone using the plug next to your seat. I sure sleep like a baby in Standard Premium. Extra tip: if you forgot your Oyster card or don’t have one yet, buy one in the Eurostar bar so you don’t have to queue in St Pancras.

All the Stokey tips and more

Some of you might have noticed our Stokey tips on my Instagram. Here I will sum them up and convince you why this is a must visit neighborhoud. Not only for Stoke Newington’s cute houses and coffee bars, there is more to this part of North East London.

Walking around without a specific destination is the perfect activity to do in Stokey. You’ll discover all the lovely streets and hidden treasures. There are quite a few old houses, such as an 18th-century mansion in Clissold park or the local church. You could also stroll around Abney Park, a 175 year old cemetery, make sure to go on a sunny day because it can get quite muddy over there.

After a long walk I love to go relax at Clissold Park. This beautiful open park is perfect for a picknic, they even have an area where dogs aren’t allowed. There sure are a lot of dogs in Stokey, waiting for you to pet them. At least that’s what I think when they stare at me, or when I stare at them…

I would recommend passing by Church Street before going to Clissold Park where you can stop at several shops for a great picknic. For the salads and dips you should go to Whole Foods, a beautiful supermarket with a focus on fresh(ly prepared) food. Their avocado-humus is my favorite. You should buy bread at The Spence Bakery, a cute shop with delicious sourdough. Don’t forget a bottle of wine, which you can buy at one of the wine shops.

Besides good food there are also a lot of stores to discover in Church Street. You’ll come across lovely clothing boutiques, a hipster butcher, a shop full of beautiful cooking supplies but also several stores for you design lovers.

Nook is one of those shops. I can easily pass an hour without even noticing, even though it’s pretty compact. It sells everything I have on my ‘future home’ wish-list. They even have mini cacti. At Nook you can find a lovely cards but also something for your kitchen. Have a look at their online store and you’ll get the idea.

Candle heaven is most definitely Search & Rescue. It’s not the only thing they sell, but it was the thing that caught my eye. This lifestyle store also has a large selection of notebooks, soaps, chinaware and pillows.

There is a large variety of shops on Church Street, which makes it perfect for strolling around. In the middle of this long street you can have a break at Auld Shillelagh. This is one of the best Irish pubs in London, for great atmosphere and a good Guinness you need to stop there. Also very entertaining during the evening.

After a long night of drinking Guinness or dancing in Dalston you’ll need a good brunch. There are several spots you can go to. The Haberdashery is one of the most famous ones, there you can have a real English breakfast or eggs Benedict. If you like ginger, make sure to try the “who needs yoga” juice. Last time I had the french toast, but that was quite disappointing. Besides this well-known establishment there are three other options I love as well.

Esters

For an atypical but seasonal menu you should go to Esters. Its clean interior reminds me of Berlin and their spots at the window are great for staring at locals passing by. Here you can order a filter coffee to kill that hang-over and relax while reading a book. Their choice of music is always pleasant and inspiring, they ask friends & dj’s to create a mix for them. You can listen to it on Soundcloud.

The Yellow Warbler

This coffee bar’s interior is peppy and inviting, on top of that the staff is also friendly and funny. But those aren’t the only reasons why I love it. The Yellow Warbler‘s menu has several dishes with avocado, yes I confess I might have a small avocado-addiction. But sourdough toast with avocado and a poached egg is the perfect hang-over food for me. They also serve a creamy flat white and refreshing juices. A detail I liked as well: the art work on the walls changes quite often, their walls work as a gallery for upcoming artists.

Fink’s Salt & Sweet

All the way at the end of Stoke Newington you’ll find Fink’s, a gorgeous establishment with a menu for every moment of the day. When the weather is nice you can sit outside and enjoy the sun on your face. Their salmon with crackers is absolutely delicious, good quality food. You won’t find a typical eggs & bacon brunch over there, more a selection of charcuterie or cinnamon toast. We tried the butternut & zing, which was mouthwateringly good. They also have a small shop with speciality food, great as a souvenir. Have look at their Instagram-account, better not do it when you’re hungry because you’ll end up running to the fridge.

 From Stokey to Dalston

Although Church Street is great, it isn’t the only street in Stokey that is worth visiting. Stoke Newington High Street goes all the way to party neighborhood Dalston, passing by several cute stores and cozy restaurants. This makes it the perfect place to look for dinner by the end of the day.

If you like sharing, I would recommend Tatreez Cafe. This Middle Eastern restaurant has a beautiful oven and a menu full of traditional dishes. For cocktails and pulled pork burgers you need to go to Stokey Stop. Dalston sure is a great place to go as well, but that’s a whole different guide. I’ll work on that this fall.

So if you want to enjoy a day or weekend in a hip but relaxed part of London, I would send you to Stokey. You’ll find a great mix between relaxing, good food and shopping. Enjoy your stay and let me know what you think of my favorite neighborhood!

Julie