Hipster guide to London

The hipster guide to London: Beards, breakfast and breweries

London’s hipster scene shows no sign of packing up its vintage typewriter just yet…

Alongside New York and Berlin, London is one of the hottest spots on earth for hipsters, with more artisan cafés, craft beer breweries and gourmet street-food trucks than you can twirl a moustache at. The hipster scene really began in East London’s Shoreditch, not far from the centre of the city, but as prices have risen trendy folk have been forced to pack up their fixie bikes and move outwards into the Zone 2 borough of Hackney, which includes areas such as Stoke Newington, Dalston and Clapton, while Peckham has emerged in recent years as the place to be seen doing cool things south of the river. However, if you’d rather not venture too far from the centre of town, there’s definitely still a distinctly too-cool-for-school vibe to Shoreditch itself. For instance, the Queen of Hoxton is pretty much the de facto East London hipster joint, while the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town nearby (the name alone gives away its beardy credentials) is a speakeasy-style cocktail bar that can only be accessed through a fridge-shaped door in the Breakfast Club café upstairs.
Trendy cereal and avocado cocktails
Perhaps the most controversial though of all London’s hipster establishments is Shoreditch’s Cereal Killer Café, which hit the headlines in late 2015 when it was targeted by activists who claimed the store was a symbol of the gentrification which has gripped many run-down areas of the capital in the last couple of decades. Whatever you make of it, there’s no question it’s the hippest of London hipster spots, a café that almost exclusively serves breakfast cereal starting at £2.50 per bowl. There’s a pretender to the throne however; an Avocado-based pop-up café which opened in nearby Clerkenwell in 2016 serves a five-course menu of avocado-based dishes with avocado margaritas on the side. Yep, seriously.
Grab a crafty beer
One of the biggest crazes over the past few years has been the sudden rise of the craft beer scene. Brands such as Meantime and Brewdog have already become fairly mainstream, but there are still plenty of smaller trendy outfits going, including Crate Brewery in Hackney Wick and Brick Brewery in the railway arches beneath Peckham Rye station. The other trend of recent times has been the explosion of street-food trucks, many of which have now made the move from mobile enterprises to find permanent homes. Some of the best can be found in Hackney’s Broadway Market and Lewisham’s Brockley Market, or alternatively keep an eye on the latest offerings from Street Feast, which puts on indoor and outdoor night markets in large venues around the capital and features scores of vendors to choose from. Coffee shops, the natural haunt of the hipster, must get a mention too. The independent Counter Café by the canal in Hackney Wick is a great place to pretend to do important things on your laptop outside when the sun is shining, while Hatch in Homerton is an cool café-bar that also contains hot-desks as well as a barber – naturally. And if you like to combine your love of vinyl and alchohol, make sure you pay a visit to Clapton’s uber-hip Lion Records.
Head to the stylish south
Often touted as ‘the next Shoreditch’, Peckham is the exception to the East London rule as the only place to be seen south of the river, and the area has seen a huge upsurge in hipster-friendly spots over the last few years. Most notable among these is Frank’s Café, a bar atop a multi-storey car park which is always packed when it opens during the summer and from which you get a fantastic view of London’s skyline. A short walk from Frank’s is Four Quarters, a video arcade bar where tokens can be bought to play on retro game machines from Pacman and Asteroids to Time Crisis and Daytona USA. Meanwhile former tea factory the CLF Art Café (known to everyone however as the Bussey Building) puts on underground and alternative dance nights and is a well-known hipster hangout. However, as is the nature of things, many trend-spotters have already declared that Peckham’s heyday is over – so who knows where London’s hipsters will be sipping their lattés next?
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