x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

London’s East End is the poor relation no more

Everybody knows London, of course – but what about its East End?

Tower Bridge and the Canary Wharf financial district on London’s East End. Andrew Winning / Reuters
Tower Bridge and the Canary Wharf financial district on London’s East End. Andrew Winning / Reuters

Everybody knows London, of course – but what about its East End? The British capital is one of the top tourist destinations, with visitors flocking from all over to see its historic buildings, shop in its renowned stores, and perhaps get a glimpse of the queen.

And for serious business, the Square Mile is one of the great financial centres of the world, and Europe’s main trading hub.

But the East End has long been sidelined. For centuries it was Docklands, the commercial heart of London, but industrial decline in the 1970s finished what Hitler’s bombs started in the 1940s – and for decades the region was a desolate wasteland.

That is all changing. The East End now includes a vibrant financial centre at Canary Wharf, and one of the biggest exhibitions centres in Europe, the ExCel London, which is owned by the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company.

After the urban regeneration sparked by the 2012 London Olympics, staged just north of Docklands, The East End is open for business again in a big way.

Some tips for your stay in the area:

Eating out: London has more Michelin-starred restaurants than Paris, but it also has the full range of culinary delights, from the very top end to cheap eats. The East End is famous for the Indian restaurants in Brick Lane, a short taxi ride from the Docklands area.

Where to stay: If you’re attending a conference at ExCel, there is a clutch of nearby hotels all at four-star levels or more. Worth a try, and an easy walk from the ExCel, is the Aloft, a trendy boutique hotel with all the essentials.

Out of hours: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,” said the writer Samuel Johnson. The East End is catching up fast on the posher west. Canary Wharf offers a bustle of restaurants, bars and shops. And you are just a short trip away from the Tower of London with its famous royal jewel collection.

Getting there: Emirates Airline and Etihad both offer regular daily flights. City Airport, close to the ExCel, carries passengers from other British and European cities.

fkane@thenational.ae