New students in London: Brick Lane
Sometimes it’s hard for new students in London to know good spots to investigate; which alleys are full of culture and which are worth avoiding. Brick Lane is one of the alleys that all new students in London should be exploring!
Brick Lane is a narrow street with a huge reputation slightly off the beaten track. It creates a lively path from just above Shoreditch High Street station down to Aldgate station full of East London vibes. It is one of the reasons why Shoreditch is so cool, and is well worth taking the time to look around properly when you’re a student in London.
Just some of the reasons why you should go and see it for yourself are . . .
- Brick Lane is renowned for some of the amazing vintage stores that have set up shop along this street. Rockit, Beyond Retro and Absolute Vintage are just three of my favourites. Absolute Vintage has a particularly great shoe selection (pictured on the left).
- On a first visit it’s easy to assume that all the action on Brick Lane is south of Bethnal Green Road, but actually there are some gems on the north side too. Follow the road up and you’ll discover the original Tatty Devine store on the right side of the road. They are famous for their quirky designs and custom made name necklaces.
- Rough Trade East is a music and books shop with a fun photo booth and a great selection. They often do free gigs so it’s definitely worth checking the events section.
- The Brick Lane book shop tends to stock slightly unusual, and often area relevant, reads – perfect for a new student in London. It does also have some gifts and other bits. Paper and cup is run by a not-for-profit organisation, the spitalfields crypt trust, and specialise in second hand books. They choose a best title every month from their hand-picked charity-shop selection. You can stop by to curl up with a coffee, one of their tasty cakes or sandwiches and your latest literary find.
- Sunday Upmarket is a must see. Running, surprisingly enough, only on Sundays, it is an indoor market with a whole host of food, jewery, accesories, clothing and craft stalls. You can find loads of totally unique bits and pieces trawling through the stands, at reasonable prices. It’s not too expensive, but this is not a bargin hunters market. Be warned that you will need to come armed with cash, very few if any stands take cards.
- Sunday Upmarket, so good I had to mention it twice, has the best street food stalls I have ever found. Whatever your belly desires you’re sure to find it here. The Ethiopian and sushi stalls are probably the ones I would most highly reccomend.
- Brick Lane is the place for a curry night. There is quite the pack of Indian, Pakistani and Bengali restaurants at the southern end of the street, close to Aldgate East tube station. My advice would be to shop around, especially as a student in London who’s looking for a bargain. In front of each curry house there is always someone offering discounted deals and free wine to entice you in to their restaurant. This is the perfect opportunity to acquire some haggling skills – tell the second one you meet what the first one offered and see if they can better the deal.
- Beigel Bake and The Beigel shop are my favourite places on brick lane. Not only are they super cheap, open 24/7 (perfect for post-clubbing munchies) and incredibly yummy, but these are two of the first shops selling bagels in the country. There is a debate over which shop is best – the yellow beigel shop or the white beigel bake (my favourite is the salmon and cream cheese beigel at Beigel bake), so use it as an excuse to have double the bagel-type-goodness and try both!
- A favourite for loads of students in London is the burger stand outside Cafe 1001. This is a grill stand where they fry up the burgers in front of you. The burger options are pretty standard and the price is reasonable, not remarkable. The best bit, in my opinion are the extras. The corn on the cob and the wedges are the reason why I keep going back.
- Cafe 1001, apart from having pretty awesome burgers, also hosts some pretty cool events. For their latest calendar click here.
- fika is a cute little bar and restaurant that is the perfect place to take a fika (a brilliant Swedish word that means taking a break with a snack). Unsurprisingly, considering the name, it does have a Swedish vibe. You can definitely expect to find Swedish meatballs on the dinner menu. This is a brilliant spot to have a chilled out lunch or dinner followed by a nice drink or two.
- Verge is a chilled out bar with a brilliant cocktail list, I would particularly recommend the bramble!
- 93 feet east is a great club hidden down one of the kooky looking side streets of Brick Lane. For the latest news on nights and events check out their twitter page.