CITY GUIDE LONDON: Things to do in Stratford that aren’t Westfield
Upon visiting Stratford in 1722 the English writer Daniel Defoe noted how the area had “…increased in buildings to a strange degree.” What would he think visiting Stratford now, the area awash with buildings following the multi-million pound investment made prior to the 2012 London Olympics?
Noted for its potato growing and arable land prior to the industrialisation of the area which came with the opening of the railway in 1839, Stratford is now better known for being home to West Ham FC and the Westfield shopping centre than it is as an important Roman road that led from Aldgate in the City all the way out to Romford in Essex.
Westfield aside, what else is there to do in Stratford?
Technically an adult, but still act like a big kid? ZAPspace is a three-storey trampoline park, café, restaurant, and late night bar. What more could you want? Housed within this old Victorian theatre you can leap into the giant foam pit, try out Parkour with a soft landing, play an epic game of Dodgeball, or bounce around on the trampolines (hint: do this before you hit up the bar…) Every Friday and Saturday there’s Jump n’Jam where you can bounce around to the resident DJ accompanied with light shows and smoke machines while pulling some serious shapes. ZAPspace also host weekly Zen Sen sessions for visitors with disabilities.
THE CURIOUS FOX
After bouncing around at ZAPspace, jump down to The Curious Fox speakeasy bar. Open every Thursday-Sunday from 17:00 – 01:00, enjoy a variety of premium cocktails and craft beers while dancing to the resident DJ. Subterranean, the bar is so small and intimate you’ll feel as if you have stumbled across someone’s secret (and awesome) living room. Settle into one of the booths and snuggle up for a cosy date night.
The latest in a series of small, independent gaming bars by Loading, Secret Weapon brings gaming to a classic east end London pub environment, having taken over the old Princess of Wales boozer. With an Xbox, PS4, Super Nintendo and numerous board games, everything is free to play while they also host various gaming competitions and pub quizzes. Inclusive and not just for gamers, this café/bar has a great beer garden, cocktails, and coast-to-coast selection of ales and lagers.
Covering the façade of Secret Weapon, international street artist Itaewon’s abstract and futuristic mural echoes the dystopian and fragmented realities of the games inside. Flowing around the building it is as if this corner pub is imploding and deconstructing as your eyes follows the mural round. Just above the road sign along with his signature Itaewon writes, “Made you Look”. Yes, you certainly did.
A microbrewery and specialist tap room located within a giant shopping centre might not sound like your ideal place to grab a pint, but Tap East strangely pull it off. 16 Tap East and guest draught beers are on offer in this bolthole in Westfield, while their fridges are filled with 100 different canned craft beers. Not sure what to drink? They serve third pints so you can find your perfect tipple. Brought to you by the team behind The Rake Pub and Utobeer Stall in Borough Market, you know you’re in for a good drink.
Got a few Bitcoin lying around and nowhere to spend them? Now you can buy your carrot cake or homemade soup with the digital currency at Sawmill. A family run café and bakery, everything is prepared and cooked fresh on site daily. A full breakfast menu awaits, as well as sandwiches and salads at lunch, and a few dinner dishes, all inspired by the family’s native Ukranian heritage (as well as serving Ukranian craft beer…) There are numerous vegetarian options too. Coffee is their own Sawmill blend of 100% Arabica beans, sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified Farms. Winner of the Time Out Loves Awards 3 years in a row, you can’t go wrong.
What once was the Woodman’s pub is now the longest established specialist Asian dance club in the UK. Open every night from 22:00-04:30, this is one of the only late night clubs in the area, and the only one with sporadic live Bollywood and Lollywood performances every evening. Playing a mix of Punjabi, Tamil, Afghani, Mujjra and Belly dancesThe large dance floor is perfect for throwing some shapes, or relax out the back in the Shisha bar.
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