Dalston has been cool for years but it’s not quite dropped out of the other side yet. At weekends the streets are awash with out-of-town kids going clubbing but the artsy vibe of Dalston is still there, helped by its hook ups on the overground line. Get off the main drag of Kingsland Road to discover literary cafés, community gardens and more pop-up supper clubs than you can shake a wooden spoon at.
For a neighbourhood that’s somehow avoided all tube and overground links, old Stokey persists in being the grown-up version of Dalston; it’s where ‘cool kids’ move on to have their own kids. The area’s reputation is helped by indie boozers, posh pizza parlours, underground cocktails bars and some of the best charity-shop shopping in London. It even has its own literary festival.
Gone are the all-night raves in the train yards of King’s Cross. What has replaced them is a hub of galleries and cafés, multinational headquarters for brands like The Guardian and Google and a commitment to open space and community gardens. All of that plus some of the best transport links anywhere in London.
In recent years, Walthamstow has benefitted from Hackney’s extortionate house prices, as people who need more than a box to live in pick up and move to this creative, trendy neighbourhood. There are a number of community and arts festivals and a thriving support network for new artists in the area. Best of all is God’s Own Junkyard, a homage to all things neon. You’ve got Epping Forest and Hackney Marshes on your doorstep for when you need a countryside fix but you can still be on Oxford Street in half an hour.
Where do British pop stars move when they want leafy streets and big houses but still want to tear up central London? Kensal Rise. In between Ladbroke Grove and Queen’s Park, Kensal Rise does posh North London to a tee but then brings it back down to earth with punk-rock pubs, indie cinemas (The Lexi is thought to be one of London’s best) and the celeb-friendly bar Paradise by Kensal Green.
You can’t have a list of London’s coolest neighbourhoods without mentioning Hackney Wick. The more arty sister to Hackney, the Wick is a burgeoning collection of warehouses strung along Regent’s Canal and the Olympic Park site. Over the last decade, it’s become a hive of craft breweries, art galleries, club spaces and restaurants, and is home to the ‘slash’ generation: gin distiller slash actress, for example, or tech guru slash activist. Hackney Wick is one of the nicest areas to spend a summer day, watching the barges chug up and down the canal whilst sipping an East-London-made gin.