Tiny in size but huge in its following, 46b Espresso Hut looks more like an artist’s studio than a coffee shop, with rustic shelves, wooden stools and the odd potted plant. Local Hackney Roasted Square Mile coffee is served up in seasonal batches, with cuppas made using purified water to keep flavours locked in. 119 Lower Clapton is another independently-run coffee shop – its minimalist design, range of coffees and artist events make it a popular working spot for freelancers looking for some creative inspiration.
The pink-adorned house on Powerscroft Road is enough to get any serious Instagrammer salivating with excitement. Otherwise, there’s plenty of street art to keep your grid ticking over - Hackney-based Italian artist RUN has murals popping up all over Clapton, although you have to be quick to photograph the latest piece before it’s covered up by another wall artist...
Whatever you do, make sure you drop by Windsor Castle. No, I’m not talking about the Queen’s residence, but rather the huge Victorian pub on Lower Clapton Road. Craft beers from local East London breweries are one thing, but it’s the meals – think roast cauliflower and chickpeas, or roast squab pigeon and carrots – that will leave you coming back for more.
The antithesis of the hip neighbourhood ethos is to follow where everyone else is going. But when everyone is upping sticks from previous hot favourites and settling down in parts unknown, it’s time to sit up and take notice. With Dalston and Stoke Newington either side, it’s no surprise that Clapton has become a hub of artsy goings-on, with independent shops, restaurants and workshops never more than a couple of metres away.
At the cornerstone of Clapton’s bohemian centre is Redundant Architects Recreation Association (RARA). It’s an open-access workspace that provides an affordable place for creatives of all genres to get going with their projects, all with a range of short or long-term options available. As well as a workshop, a 3D printer and screen printing facilities, the association also has home-brewed ale on tap and a sound system.
Elsewhere, the food and drink scene brims over with possibilities, starting with Palm2, a family-run shop specialising in selling organic produce and seasonal vegetables. There are regular vegan wine tasting events, as well as the opportunity to chow down on gluten-free snacks and meals, and sip on some organic teas. Vegan bites is the order of every single day at LELE’S cafe, where there’s everything from Full English breakfasts to superfood bowls. You might want to skip the main and head straight for dessert, however – their 100% vegan patisserie offers up delicate and creative cakes, tarts and brownies which are just crying out for a feature on your Instagram grid.
Luckily, Clapton and culture go hand in hand, making it a hotbed for things to do. Every Sunday the Chatsworth Road market plays host to over 40 vendors, with stalls selling everything from authentic street food to vintage wares and homemade crafts. The market is a real labour of love for the Clapton community; from the 1930s onwards, the market did a roaring trade, with over 200 stalls spread across up to five days a week. After the war, interest continued to fade until the market shut completely in 1990. Following campaigning from local residents and traders, the market returned with a vengeance from 2010, and is now a one-stop shop for bohemian gifts and other wares.
When the sun goes down, though, there’s no shortage of things to do. As the name suggests, Lion Coffee + Records focuses on two things: caffeine and music. And sometimes they’ll even marry the two together in various musical events, all enjoyed under the watchful eye of an entire wall of vinyls. St John at Hackney, meanwhile, is a music venue with a difference – it’s actually an 18th-century church. In the past it’s seen everyone from Rufus Wainwright to orchestras gracing its stage.