This East London neighbourhood is one of the most vibrant and desirable places to visit in London, with snazzy brunch spots, generous amounts of shopping facilities, and the incredible Olympic Park Leisure Centre.
Stratford is also only a 20-minute car ride away from the ultra-trendy streets of Shoreditch.
Best known for housing the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Stratford is a tourist hotspot that’s always humming. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park includes some of the UK’s most iconic sports venues and is home to one of the Capital’s award-winning parklands and nature reserves. You’ll get breathtaking views of London from the ArcelorMittal Orbit observation tower, or if you’re looking for a rush of adrenaline, you can ride the slide or abseil the descent of the UK’s highest freefall abseil.
In this up-and-coming corner of East London, you’ll find a brilliant selection of independent cafes, bars and restaurants. From the finest artisan foods and authentic Neapolitan Pizzas to multi-award-winning gelato. You can enjoy these delicacies in the East Village, which sits next to Europe’s largest urban shopping centre, Westfield Stratford City.
It’s the perfect place for shoppers, sports lovers and socialites, with around 250 indoor and outdoor shops, including high street fashion favourites like Zara and Levi’s, plus lifestyle retailers such as John Lewis and M&S. There are around 70 places to eat and drink. Besides the ultimate shopping experience, Westfield Stratford City also offers brilliant leisure activities like luxury bowling at All Star Lanes and the latest films at one of Vue Cinema’s 17 all-digital screens.
WHERE TO DRINK
KING EDWARD VII
Amidst all the gentrified hubbub of the Westfield centre, you might be forgiven for thinking that you’d struggle to find a proper pub anywhere in Stratford. You’d be wrong. Known as King Eddie’s amongst the locals, this is a cockney boozer that’s taken the time to soften and warm itself to passing trade. With its dark mahogany walls and a decor that sits says ‘come in & relax’, this is a comfortable and friendly pub for all types.
47 Broadway, E15 4BQ
This rather trendy local cafe may not be an ideal spot for swilling a pint or a glass of prosecco but their cake is just to die for. No, they’re not a bar or pub but we’re sneaking them in for an honorable mention based on their incredible on-trend business savvy and delicious cakes and meals. Also, incredibly, you can actually pay in Bitcoin in here. Surely that’s worth a visit alone?
51 W Ham Lane, E15 4PH
A lovely, big bustling bar that offers up all the comforts you’d expect from a proper gastropub and none of the pitfalls. We adore it as a great place to unwind after a long day’s shopping in the adjacent Westfield centre. But it’s just as desirable as a place to hang out with friends on a Friday night. Remarkably, when we were last there, the local crowd all seemed to be local scientists (honestly!), so there’s very little rowdiness.
4, Chestnut Plaza, Montfitchet Rd, E20 1GL
WHERE TO EAT
BALANS SOHO SOCIETY
Serving up a delicious combo of lively cocktails, champagne and a menu that is probably best described as Modern British, Balans is unquestionably a top local spot. A mix of burgers, fish curries and other stylised classics are on offer here. While the decor is warm and inviting as well as being smart and modern enough to keep you on for dinner.
Ground Floor, Westfield Stratford City Shopping Centre, E20 1EN
A great and perhaps unexpected spot for lunch is the Bumpkin. You really don’t expect to find such a welcoming and altogether complete gastropub in a shopping centre. But with seasonal produce at the heart of every great thing these guys do, it’s really no surprise. Warm and inviting, the restaurant centres around an open kitchen which doesn’t do the atmosphere any harm either. Stop by for a quick bite or even a full Sunday roast.
105-106 The Street Stratford, Westfield E20 1EN
Now before you jump ship on this one, consider the facts: Yes, Franco Manca is a pizza place that sits on the somewhat undesirable food court of the Westfield shopping Centre. However, it is also a handy reincarnation of the incredibly popular Brixton Market restaurant. They guys behind that outstanding Italian food joint have had such unprecedented success in SW9, they decided to span their wings across south London. We suggest you take advantage.
The Balcony, 1st Floor, Westfield Stratford City, E20 1GN
WHAT TO DO
Easy to access and home to dozens of events every year, the Olympic Park’s legacy didn’t end in 2012. Hosting gigs, fun runs, marathons and of course the ArcelorMittal Orbit (the big red tower you can clamber up), the Olympic Park continues to be a popular destination for London sightseers. And from the start of the 2016/17 season, you’ll be able to watch West Ham play their football here too.
As you’ve probably noticed, a lot of what goes on around Stratford is connected to the Westfield Centre. One of Europe’s largest shopping centres, this place is an absolute mecca for shoppers from all over London. With over 250 shops and an absolute abundance of places to eat and drink, this is the very definition of a modern shopping mall. Dads will find it overwhelmingly large but just lean them up against one of the many bars and get stuck in to a day of retail therapy.
Olympic Park, Montfichet Rd, E20 1EJ
ALL STAR LANES
One of the highlights of the Westfield Centre is All Star Lanes. Not like your average bowling alley. This fashionable chain started life in trendy Shoreditch and now holds sites all over London. They serve up great food, a fantastic range of ales and beers as well as a terrific line of cocktails. This is bowling all right, but not as you know it.
Second Floor, Westfield Stratford City, E20 1ET