By MONICA BYERS
LONDON – I admit I am biased, having resided in two different flats near Hoxton Square during my London years. Having duly disclosed this, I still say that this setting is, to me, one of the reasons why London is so fab. Situated in the East End, Hoxton Square is one of the city’s oldest garden squares and has been heart of the Hoxton arts scene. Nowadays, it’s a stone’s throw from what’s been dubbed the “Silicon Roundabout” – home to loads of tech startups and the UK’s answer to Silicon Valley in the US.
What is it? Hoxton Square is a lovely green, tree-filled oasis from the concrete and litter of East London. It’s not as Bohemian as it once was (£1M flats have a way of changing the neighborhood), but it’s still a mecca for the young, the trendy and – on the weekends – the fashionably drunken. It’s also a lovely place to put down a blanket on a sunny (well, sunny for London) afternoon and enjoy a picnic. On weekend evenings, the local council used to bring in outdoor urinals for the male half of the considerable crowd of merrymakers…..I wonder if they still do this. Anyway, Hoxton Square is small but atmospheric. Come here without agenda – just hang out and enjoy the vibe.
What is there to do around here besides sit on a bench? The square is absolutely surrounded by restaurants and some very cool bars. Hoxton Square is also home to the eastern outpost of the White Cube Gallery if you are inclined to get your culture on. Nearby, there are quite a few eclectic shops (including Sh! Women’s Erotic Emporium, where a man cannot enter unless accompanied by a female companion) and Circus Space, where one can actually earn a degree in Circus Arts. I am not making this up. The rather whimsical map below may provide some insight into the square’s vibe – I especially like “Restaurant With An Identity Crisis.”
Where is it? Hoxton Square is in London’s East End – north of the City of London (the square mile traditional financial district), in an area that is significantly less overrun with tourists than the more famous West End and Covent Garden. The nearest Tube is Old Street (Northern Line) and the 55 and 243 buses practically drop you into the square.
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