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Your guide to... Stratford

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A mention of Stratford 10 years ago is likely to have elicited little more than a dubious eyebrow raise, but since its major revamp for the 2012 Olympics (yes, it really was 6 years ago) E15 has been steadily making a name for itself as one of London’s most exciting areas. Not only is it home to Westfield, one of the UK’s largest shopping centres, it also boasts a vibrant food, drink and, of course, sporting scene.

With the legacy of the Olympics leaving behind an astonishing 11,000 homes, including 3000 spread across 75 acres of parkland in London’s newest neighbourhood, East Village, there’s never been a better time to make the move to E20 - no wonder there’s usually 400+ ads for rooms on SpareRoom in the area.

Whether taking a trip down the world’s largest slide (who knew it was hiding away in East London!?) or indulging in some of the finest culinary delights the area has to offer, this thriving hub is certainly one to watch.

How do I get there?

Not only does it sit a stone’s throw away from central London via the all-important Central line (9 minutes on to Liverpool Street Station to be exact), Stratford is also served by the Jubilee Line, London Overground and DLR, making it the commuters dream. As if that wasn’t enough, E20 also boasts a National Rail station linking London to the East of England, perfect for a weekend escape to the seaside towns of Margate or Dover.

If the myriad of train options aren’t your style, the bus links are just as plentiful. With 12 buses serving the area from the bus station, travelling as far and wide as Romford to Canary Wharf couldn’t be easier.

What is there to do?

A guide to Stratford certainly wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the area’s renowned shopping centre, Westfield. As the 4th largest shopping complex in the country boasting everything from high street clothing chains to high-end labels and even a bowling alley, Westfield has every purchasing possibility one could ask for.

For those looking to relive the glory days of 2012, head to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the huge sporting complex made up of the Lee Valley VeloPark, Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre and Copper Box Arena, to name but a view of the attractions. Visit for trips to one of London’s most upcoming culture destinations, the East Bank, relaxing boat tours and an escape from the city.

Want to unleash your inner child? E20 is the place to go. Not only does it lay claim to the world’s largest and longest tunnel slide, the aptly named ArcelorMittal Orbit (is it a sculpture? Is it a spaceship? Who knows!), the area also boasts the brilliantly bright and airy Aquatics Centre which hosts inflatable aqua splash sessions. And what, I hear you ask, are those? Well, exactly what their title suggests: inflatable obstacle courses ranging from the meek 20m course to the ‘ultimate’ 40m course, including inflatable slides and dive pools.

For those who favour somewhat more sophisticated activities, the Theatre Royal Stratford East is the perfect place to indulge in some culture. Staging everything from music and dance performances to stand up comedy, the theatre is no doubt a centrepiece in the E20 arts scene.

Too sunny to be spending the day in an auditorium? Head down to Roof East, Stratford’s one and only rooftop-bar-cum-cinema-cum-urban-park. Recline in front of a film in the open air cinema, try your hand at crazy golf or get a bit zen with Flow East Yoga. Who cares if rooftop bars are a bit cliched when you’re having this much fun!?

Where do I eat?

Feeling a bit peckish after all that shopping and… er… obstacle coursing? For a taste of the Caribbean, nothing beats Levi Roots’ Caribbean Smokehouse, a veritable delight for lovers of all things jerk. Anything from the jerk section of the menu is sure to delight, as is the warming goat curry and ‘The Star Bwoy’ burger, slow-cooked beef short rib topped with lettuce, soused onions and creamy pickle mayo in a toasted brioche bun.

Caribbean not to your liking? Be whisked away on a European city break without even leaving the comfort of your east london postcode with a trip to Dark Horse. Known for its traditional tapas dishes, this Spanish and Italian-inspired restaurant and self proclaimed ‘wine cave’ is the perfect spot to unwind. Don’t miss the creamy burrata, breaded sardines and charcuterie to die for.

Move further south on the culinary map with a trip to Hand Cafe, known for its speciality coffee and Greek-inspired food fused with north-African flavours. Don’t be put off by its red primary school-esque chairs - these just add to its totally chilled out vibe. Serving up the likes of spanakopita, Greek filo pastries stuffed with spinach and feta, flaky almond croissants and delicious split lentil soups, Hand is the perfect place for brunch. Or lunch. Or dinner.

And what about a good old neighbourhood chippie? Never fear: your battered cod and mushy pea cravings can be filled in E20 at the simply but appropriately named Fish House. Serving up deliciously fresh fish dishes with flavours from around the globe (think saffron and lemon risotto with scallops, mussels, king prawns and parmesan as well as roast sea bream with chilli, ginger, garlic, soy, lime & coriander), the Fish House is a perfect spot when it comes to Friday date night. Alternatively, grab the traditional scampi and chips off their equally as tasty takeaway menu and savour the flavours reclined in front of the TV.

And the drinks?

Want to play retro video games whilst sipping a cocktail? Of course you do! Head to Secret Weapon to indulge your inner gamer with everything from Playstation 4’s to a multi game arcade cabinet.

And if drinking and multitasking isn’t your thing? Tap East Brewery is the place for you. With 16 draft ales on tap and an additional 100 bottled beers available, your hands will be too full to even consider playing a game of Mario Kart. Alternatively, head to The Cow for a delicious seasonal menu, live sports and amazing views over the Olympic stadium.

Finally, no trip to E20 would be complete without a trip to a proper boozer in true Eastenders style. Head down to the traditional oak-panelled pub that is Cart & Horses, the location of Iron Maiden’s 1976 debut gig, dontcha know. Sit back with a crisp pint and enjoy the on-screen sports, or take the drinking al fresco in their beer garden.

Local resident in Stratford? Let us know your favourite spots!

Photo credit: LoopZilla, Ewan-M, VelikaBritanija


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