London is a series of villages… make a day of it at three of the most interesting: Hackney, Bloomsbury or Crouch End.
Dear Explorers, Visitors see London as one huge city but Londoners see it as a series of villages, each with its own atmosphere and particular tribe. The three London villages we're featuring this month are all well worth a day trip in their own right. Go and explore, steep yourself in the local, it'll be a memorable experience. Emma
Hackney & London FieldsHackney has turned from crime hotspot to gentrified urban village in the space of a decade. Creative types priced out of Shoreditch came this way and colonised the warehouses clustered around London Fields. Now everyone's a maker-seller of something, or so it seems. Broadway Market, surrounded by small independent shops and the arches around London Fields Station, offers top notch shopping opportunities and some amazing food. There's a lot of community and culture too, with a gorgeous lido, lively theatre, city farm, two great cinemas, a museum, gig venues and several green spaces including Victoria Park. We've recommended the best places and picked out a couple of itineraries for those who want to come and live like a local for a day.
BloomsburyBloomsbury is most famous for its literary connections and has an oddly quiet feel for central London, unless you're right outside the gates of the British Museum, that is. There's a distinct cultural air, with students from UCL, SOAS and RADA wandering its streets. Several garden squares are good for a stroll, although you'll need a child in tow to enter Coram's Fields. Bloomsbury's smaller museums are quirky and well worth a visit, and there are lots of interesting specialist book shops, naturally. You can explore the whole village in a day or stay and find the answer to your philosophical questions at The School Of Life.
Crouch EndCrouch End isn't on the tube, and doesn't have a rail station at its centre either. That's what preserves its villagey feel. Walking around Crouch End is like watching a children's TV programme – everyone is friendly and it's easy getting into conversations as you go; oh and it's picture postcard pretty too. Don't let the lack of obvious transport put you off; walk from Hornsey or Harringay rail or stroll down the hill from Highgate tube on the Parkland Walk. Crouch End is full of great restaurants and cafés, has a great comedy club, two cinemas, a lido and pool, several pretty parks and an arts centre due to open in the beautiful Art Deco town hall in 2020.
This month's most eye-catching nominations from membersThanks to Need To Know member Nicola Cook for nominating Mama Doreen's in Harrogate, Yorkshire. Our writers have put it on their list of places to visit. This month Gary Hills reviewed a recent nomination by Greg Sewell, Cerveceria Catalana in Barcelona, Spain.
Best Restaurant and Café
Best Bar and Pub
Best Thing to Do
This stunner of a building also offers a fascinating walk through Vietnam's history
Best Hotel and Resort
Bring an extra stomach for this foodie tour of Hackney, taking in some cultural highlights along the way