East London’s Stratford has been on the up ever since the Olympic Games transformed the area – and it’s only getting better. Rhiannon Evans, who has lived there for six years, tells us why it’s the place to be.

Stratford london

It’s been 10 years since the magic of the Olympic Games set the whole of the UK aglow – but one area that was especially illuminated was the east London neighbourhood of Stratford, where a new Olympic village sprang up.

That special feeling still remains in the area, and much of the legacy infrastructure is now filled with a buzzing and diverse community.

As more and more people discover one of London’s urban treasures, its development continues apace, driven by a strong demand for homes. If you’re looking to experience the best of modern city living, here’s why you need to put Stratford at the top of your list…

The right connections

Whether you’re up for exploring or enticing friends and family to come visit, the exceptional transport links in Stratford will win you over. The Central and Jubilee underground lines, the DLR, the Overground and the new Elizabeth line make the Stratford area one of the most connected in London.

There are also National Rail services to Essex and Norfolk, and Stratford International has seven-minute trains to London’s St Pancras International, as well as high-speed services to places in Kent, such as Folkestone, Canterbury and Margate.

Do yourself a flavour

Stratford’s culinary offering is vast – Westfield Stratford City has a fantastic choice of restaurants, including Wahaca and Popeyes, as well as cafes and eateries for quick stops, light snacks and confectionery – plus everything you need for your household groceries. Central Stratford has local gems such as Sawmill, while in Stratford’s East Village you can enjoy artisanal bakery Signorelli’s pistachio croissants or fantastic pizzas at Santi. Work and leisure space Hackney Bridge also has plenty of new food stands – it’s currently home to Japanese specialists Rainbo and south Indian street food stall Tamila, among others. Close by in Hackney Wick, you can get a taste for ethical eating at zero-waste restaurant Silo.

Rhythm of the night

There are lots of bars and nightspots to enjoy too. Roof East is a complete night out package – food stands on rotation, cocktails, and activities from open-air cinema (watching Blade Runner surrounded by Stratford skyscrapers was a highlight) to mini golf and individual karaoke booths. In the East Village, bars such as Tina, We Salute You, Mother Kelly’s and Roots should have you covered. Still going? Stumble less than a mile (walking across the bridges with views of the Olympic Park) to Hackney Wick for local faves Crate and Number 90.

Home is where the art is

Stratford is fast becoming a cultural heavyweight. The Line, London’s first dedicated public art walk, starts at the Queen
Elizabeth Olympic Park and runs through Newham, Tower Hamlets and Greenwich, following the Greenwich meridian, with an evolving programme of art installations and events. Taking about four hours to walk, you can see works by the likes of Tracey Emin and Antony Gormley. The Theatre Royal Stratford East is on the doorstep, and you’ve got two cinemas (a Picturehouse and a Vue) too. The London College of Fashion and Sadlers Wells Theatre are due to open here in 2023, and the V&A in 2024.

Young at heart

Having had children in Stratford, I can vouch for its family-friendly status. There are local baby groups and clubs aplenty. For the older kids there are many playgrounds for differing age ranges – Tumbling Bay is a favourite, as are the fountains near London Stadium in summer. The Discover Children’s Story Centre is a guaranteed win, especially with its series of new exhibitions. The local library, recently decked out like a tube carriage, is a great place to let kids’ imaginations run wild too.

Hitting the right note

Trek to Wembley no more: Stratford is now one of the best places to see some of your favourite acts. Many of the biggest artists – from Beyoncé to the Rolling Stones, Foo Fighters and more – now choose to play at the London Stadium. The ground-breaking ABBA
Voyage hologram show is in residency at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and MSG (as in Madison Square Gardens) Sphere London is also proposed for the area.

Be a good sport

It’s really a special feeling diving into the pool where so many medals were won at the London Aquatics Centre – and there are diving courses too if you want to be the next Tom Daley. As a total cliché of a lockdown runner, I can assure you, the area’s many running routes can keep even the most reluctant runner going, whether it’s along the canals, around the nearby marshes or, of course, in the Olympic Park itself. For added motivation, go past the giant RUN sign outside the Copper Box, which has some of the many gyms and sports facilities in the area. Or, if watching is more your thing, the London Stadium is now home to Premier League football team West Ham, and both venues regularly host an array of other sporting events.

Our better natures

There are so many trails and waterways to explore that you easily forget you’re just minutes from the A12. The Jubilee Greenway is a 37-mile cycle route that loops from Stratford all the way around London’s Olympic sites, and the London Blossom Garden is a living memorial to the city’s experiences during the coronavirus pandemic. If you fancy a (water)bird’s eye view of Stratford, treat yourself to a swan pedalo (yes, really).

All over the shop

Three words: Westfield Stratford City. Imagine the ease of having more than 350 stores on your doorstep. Christmas shopping and being home in minutes is a dream – while you’ll never worry about having “nothing to wear” again.

Eastern promise

Walking around the area, there’s no doubt you’re part of a community on the up. In the past 15 years, more than 10,000 new homes have been built in the neighbourhood. And investment continues – the £1.1bn East Bank project is being constructed, bringing universities and arts and culture institutions to the area, and the new Coppermaker Square residential development is set to launch in the heart of Stratford, bringing a truly premium experience to modern renting.

(Article source: The Guardian)
(Image: Mirza Daniyal Arshad)

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