In the latest of our series of Instagrammer’s guides, we head to the Big Smoke, but of course, with so much to discover in our great capital, we couldn’t fit it all into one blog post. Therefore we plan to have a mini-series highlighting some of our favourite gems in the different areas of the city. First up, photographer Tanya Arya guides us around some of the best indie shops and cafes in East London…
Having lived on the opposite side of London for the majority of my life means I didn’t truly get the opportunity to appreciate the character and charisma East London has to offer until I started working in the City. To be totally honest, this part of London still remains largely undiscovered for me. Despite living only a tube journey away (albeit a long one), there is still so much for me to explore, but here are some of my old favourites and recent discoveries…
Over the past year or so, many of us have turned to ways we can ‘bring the outdoors in’ and investing in some good quality plants is the easiest win. Conservatory Archives is probably best described as an indoor jungle and with the plants ranging from miniature to super-sized, there is something for everyone – I would be surprised if you didn’t leave with a little something! Despite the shop on Hackney Road being the smallest of their stores, it’s certainly not short of greenery and creativity.
Earl of East
Located in a Hackney back street is home and lifestyle shop, Earl of East. The brand produces a range of home fragrance products, including candles, incense, home mists and bath and body products, all of which are made in London. Alongside their own range, you will also find a variety of complementing independent brands in store (including 91 Magazine!) If you fancy extending your Earl of East experience, they also offer candle making workshops where one of their expert candle makers will take you step-by-step through the whole process!
Mason and Painter
It’s likely that you will have heard of the infamous Columbia Road flower market but did you know about the abundance of excellent independent stores that line the road too? I would recommend a visit on a Saturday morning to beat the Sunday rush when the market is on, popping in and out of the collection of interesting stores. Mason and Painter is one of the shops that you may linger in for that little bit longer. It almost like taking a step back in time as you explore each corner of this small vintage store, full of beautiful, preloved furniture and decor.
Step out the back door of Mason and Painter and you’ll find yourself in an adorable, almost hidden courtyard where Lily Vanilli bakery is located. On a summer’s day, it’s the perfect spot for coffee, cake and a catch up. I discovered this delightful spot by chance and couldn’t resist stopping off and indulging in their chilli cheese and leek on sourdough – a wonderful mid-afternoon snack! Experts in cake baking, I think I may just need to return for a sweet treat or two…
It seems that East London is made for caffeine lovers because there are SO many unique coffee shops and cafes and it was actually really difficult to narrow it down to just two (perhaps that calls for a whole other post?!). The reason I picked Ozone is because I just love that they roast their own coffee in the basement and you can see and smell this as soon as you step in. It’s a tick from me! Find locations in Shoreditch and London Fields.
Within a five minute walk of Ozone, you’ll come across a whole range of coffee shops to choose from, but another that stands out for me is Attendant. The interior is undeniably ‘Instagrammable’ with green subway tiles reflecting the verdant living wall which runs the entire length of the cafe. If you fancy something a bit quirky, head to their Fitzrovia branch which is located in a former Victorian toilet (yep, really!).
Labour and Wait
This shop has become a bit of an East London institution, so including it here was a no-brainer. Labour and Wait offers a wide range of timeless, functional products for daily life and conscious shoppers with a penchant for simplicity will love it. It’s Redchurch Street location houses the shop in a building that was once a pub with a striking exterior, and when you step inside you’ll discover an effortlessly stylish space with a perfectly curated collection, celebrating utilitarian design.
If there’s one thing you do when in East London, head to Spitalfields market. An all-time favourite spot, it’s great for any occasion, whether you’re grabbing a bite from one of the food trucks (I recommend Charred or The Duck Truck) or finding some unique artwork for your home. What was originally one of the market stalls is now a full-blown gift, homewares and interiors store, Inspitalfields stocks an incredibly diverse range of products. If you’re short on gift ideas, this place will likely sort you out.
Tailor and Forge
Stay east but head south of the river to Greenwich and you will be greeted with a weekend market, stunning views of the city (ideally from the Royal Observatory) and hidden gems like Tailor and Forge. This shop is a beautifully curated collection of independent homeware and lifestyle products – think all of your favourite designers in one place! Whether you’re looking for a new notebook or a coffee table, this place has it all. Try and leave without buying something!
The Creaky Shed
The Creaky Shed is the only local greengrocer in Greenwich and proudly works directly with British farmers to bring their customers produce that is locally sourced, seasonal and delicious. They also offer local delivery, so you can have their fresh fruit and veg delivered straight to your door. We love the shopfront display of produce, plants and flowers, enticing us through the door!