Arguably one of the most exciting corners of Tower Hamlets, Whitechapel is awash with colour, cuisine and culture. Once an area synonymous with Jack the Ripper and his grisly murders, this part of East London has shrugged off its murky past to become one of the best places you can visit for a taste of proper South Asian curry and to experience cosmopolitan London.
Over the last 15 years, Whitechapel has had a real makeover. The busy Brick Lane has gone from a collection of run down curry houses to a bubbling Karahi cooking-pot of some of the finest Indian restaurants in the city. Even the infamous bumper to bumper Aldgate gyratory system has been restructured to welcome calmer roads and cycleways with Commerical Road becoming a cycle super highway. The Local Authority has also initiated a 15-year Whitechapel Vision to develop new homes and create more open spaces, promising great changes to the area.
Every which way you look, Whitechapel has lots to offer; from mosques to historical buildings, bagel shops to a vibrant market. Tucked behind the hustle and bustle of the main roads of this Zone 2 area, there are plenty of housing styles to choose from. Period conversions, new builds, converted warehouses and former council flats are available for purchase and to rent. As the arrival of Crossrail makes travel easier for everyone, Whitechapel has fast become one of the most sought after urban neighbourhoods of East London.
Whitechapel London Underground (District and Hammersmith and City Lines) and London Overground Station: City 12 minutes approximately. West End 31 minutes approximately. Stratford International 24 minutes approximately.
Aldgate East Underground Station:City 4 minutes approximately. West End 19 minutes approximately. Stratford 11 minutes approximately.
Aldgate Underground Station:City 2 minutes approximately. West End 17 minutes approximately. Stratford 16 minutes approximately.
A number of well-connected bus routes throughout and Santander cycle stands.
Our pick of Whitechapel
Grounded Coffee Company: Serving freshly roasted coffee from the very local Exmouth Coffee Roasters (also located bang in the middle of Whitechapel), here’s a place you can sit behind a laptop for hours or run in and out for a quick flat white. The coffee is rich and flavourful and the brunch is to drool over. Do not leave without tucking into the organic poached eggs with spinach on sourdough bread.
Mouse Tail: Apart from the great name, we love their mission “to change the perception of really good coffee for at least 1 person a day”. This coffee shop on Whitechapel Road brews up a banging cup of coffee and has plenty of veggie and vegan food offerings too.
The Blind Beggar: Fancy yourself as a bit of an East London history buff? If that’s the case, you’ve got to have a swift half at this iconic boozer. A favourite haunt of the notorious Kray twins, this place is an old-time gangster hangout. Order the ‘Beggars Belief’ ale for a real taste of East London.
The Oliver Conquest: It’s always gin o’clock somewhere in the world and this relatively new pub has got every type of gin you could ever imagine. Since opening in 2010 they’ve gathered 300 varieties of gin to get you in the mood.
Going Out Out
Apples & Pears: No, we’re not just reciting cockney rhyming slang, we’re recommending this awesome cocktail bar on Osborn Street, Whitechapel. Live music and delicious cocktails; it’s time to get your skinny jeans on and head straight to this place.
Discount Suit Company: On the lookout for a new whistle and flute? Well you won’t find one here. It’s posh cocktails and fun times at this Petticoat Lane location.
Tickle Your Tastebuds
Tayyabs: You haven’t had a curry if you’ve never eaten at Tayyabs – a legendary family run Punjabi restaurant that’s been serving the most authentic North Indian vegetarian and meat dishes since 1972. Expect it to be busy and to leave with your belly bursting.
Chicken Shop & Dirty Burger: Those cool cats behind Soho House bring us not just one, but two of our favourites under one roof. Food, music, cocktails and networking all in one space – you can even bring your own vinyl to spin on the decks!
Brick Lane: For a real taste of South Asian street food, head down to Brick Lane for some cheap and spicy grub. Nibble on a freshly made samosa or dive into some aloo chaat for your lunchtime treat.
Let’s Do Brunch
Hotbox: Chow down on some barbecued ribs and succulent pork belly at this American-themed eatery. Great for brunch and just as good for dinner.
Café from Crisis: All the cakes and brunch options you might be craving, plus helping a good cause while you munch. What more do you need? Run by the homeless charity Crisis, this café is award-winning and worthwhile.
Wild And Free
Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, Mile End Park
Whitechapel Gallery: A London home for contemporary art, the Whitechapel Gallery has been welcoming visitors since 1901. It’s a must see for Londoners and tourists alike, and has featured works by Lucian Freud, Pablo Picasso and more recent artists such as Mark Wallinger and Sarah Lucas.
Genesis Cinema: Standing loud and proud on Mile End Road, this arthouse cinema showcases all the mainstream blockbusters plus a number of independent films. Beautifully maintained, this is an old school cinema with modern finesse.
Shop Till You Drop
Whitechapel market: Pick up a bargain or just mosey around one of London’s best markets. Frequented by locals for their weekly shop as well as cool kids (who may have taken a wrong turn along Commercial Road), Whitechapel market is street selling at its finest.
Brick Lane: Once you’ve loaded up on authentic kebabs or curry, have a nose in some of the colourful shops along this famous lane. There are art galleries, bakeries and clothing stores dotted along throughout.
Old Spitalfields Market: A blend of old and new makes this market the best spot for a Sunday stroll. Covered market stalls are surrounded by leading brand stores, so there really is something for everyone.
Best Kept Secret
Wiltons Music Hall: A true hidden gem. This beautiful music hall is said to be the oldest in the world. Tucked away behind a small terrace of houses and reached via pedestrian access only, you wouldn’t even know this marvellous place existed (well, until we just told you). Definitely not to be missed.