I’ve lived here for fourteen months now, and I think I’ve found just about enough good things to say about Stratford to warrant a blog post.
Not gonna lie, it’s been challenging. Stratford is, by and large, terrible. It is best-known for acid attacks, a swiftly deteriorating Olympic Park, the most indebted local Council in the country (thanks, West Ham United!), and the third largest shopping centre in Europe (not a good thing). Lots of people seem to think that living on top of Westfield is a plus. What they don’t seem to realise is that the entire complex is essentially a human termite mound, except all the termites move very slowly and half of them are armed with prams the size of a small tank. It’s hell on earth and to be avoided at all costs.
But! Despite all this, Stratford is on the up. And it’s also officially the best value location to buy in Zone 2, with great links to the City, East and Central London, and the Elizabeth Line due to open fully by December 2019.
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
The park may not be getting all the love and attention it needs at the moment, but it does have:
- An awesome Olympic swimming pool that costs just £5.20 in peak time, and is usually pretty empty.
- The VeloPark, which anyone can have a go on.
- Lots of running events, if that’s your cup of tea. There are regular 10K races and the odd wildcard, like the Tough Mudder 5K.
Construction is about to begin for a new large-scale music venue in the shape of a golf ball, like Disney’s Epcot, but instead of containing a bad-ass rollercoaster it’ll be filled with the world’s biggest projection screen and occasionally Bono. In the meantime, you’re just a few stops down from the O2 Arena, London’s biggest live music venue.
The Olympic Park is also home to the world’s longest, tallest slide, which is TREMENDOUSLY good larks, though a bit pricey at £16.50 a go. We took some pals from Bristol recently; it was great fun and none of us were sick – bonus!
Since the 2012 Olympics, the athletes’ shag pads have been transformed into luxury flats (naturally) and a raft of really nice quality neighbourhood coffee shops, bars and restaurants. It’s like a little Stoke Newington over there, and I can’t wait for the E20 vibe to extend out towards West Ham and Leyton, even though it keeps referring to itself as ‘London’s hippest postcode’, to the mild embarrassment of everyone within a half-mile radius.
Canalside at Here East
Okay, this is technically Hackney Wick, but it’s on the other side of the Olympic Park and it’s easily walkable from everywhere in E15 so I’m having it. Canalside at Here East is a little cluster of bars and restaurants, including Crate Brewery, retro video-gaming bar Four Quarters and, best of all, Randy’s Wing Bar, which has just opened a second location in Aldgate. We go all the time (pro tip: go on Thursdays for free live music or Mondays for their £14 bottomless wings deal).
Billingsgate Fish Market
Billingsgate Fish Market isn’t in Stratford, but it’s close enough. Considering you have to go between 4-6am if you want to get anything decent, it’s handy to be a £7 Uber ride away. Plus, it’s on the Jubilee line (get off at Canary Wharf), which runs 24 hours at weekends. Last time I went we got an enormous box of fresh scallops for a tenner and brunched like KINGS for the next four days.
London City Airport
Forget everything you thought you knew about the horrors of air travel because City Airport is an absolute DREAM. It may be small, but it flies to most major European cities as well as New York. It also has lightning fast security (you can generally turn up online slot machines just an hour before your flight), a duty-free Jo Malone counter and very, very few children. And, it’s just a short tube ride (or ~£10 Uber) away.
The Stratford Centre is probably one of the saddest shopping centres in the world. It sits in the shadow of the Westfield mothership and is 70% pound shops, but it is also home to Roof East, which you can find on the, er, roof. There’s a bar, street food vendors, mini golf and views over the Olympic Park, which is quite nice from a distance, actually.
The best shop in the aforementioned sad Stratford Centre is Loon Fung, a relatively massive Chinese supermarket with a hot bao bun takeaway counter and an in-house fishmonger. Also good for: interesting sauces, massive £1 bags of prawn crackers and all your other Asian food needs.
Great transport links
Finally, the best thing about Stratford is how easy it is to leave. You’ve got the Central and Jubilee lines, the DLR, National Rail and the Overground. I actually live closer to West Ham (but nobody knows where that is) and the links are even better – Jubilee, District, Hammersmith & City, DLR and the C2C, which gets in to Fenchurch Street in 12 minutes.
Featured image credit: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in East London and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.