Cool Places - The best places to stay in the UK

The Best Places to Stay in the UK

Islington

Islington, one of North London’s most mixed and exciting boroughs, bustles both day and night with shoppers, diners and culture vultures. Its chief axis, Upper Street, runs for a mile north from the Angel to Highbury Corner, lined with restaurants and cafés ranging from stylish Ottolenghi to funky Gallipoli; pubs like the King’s Head; and smart shops, such as Abigail Ahern. It’s got more than its fair share of theatres and venues, too, from the upmarket indie Screen on the Green cinema to the Union Chapel (a wonderful Nonconformist church that now hosts an excellent programme of gigs) and performance spaces like the Almeida Theatre and the Little Angel Puppet Theatre. West of Upper Street, well-heeled green garden squares surrounded by elegant Georgian townhouses conform to Islington’s elite image, while to the east, along and around Essex Road, everything feels much more mixed; this is a great area for secondhand shops, ethnic restaurants and down-to-earth boozers. Islington’s largest green space, Highbury Fields, lies just beyond Upper Street’s northern end, en route to the Emirates Stadium, home to Arsenal Football Club.

History

Six hundred years ago, with a population of barely five hundred souls, the little hilltop community of Islington, Middlesex, was already a favoured residence for London’s wealthy movers and shakers. Its oldest thoroughfare, Essex Road, may date back to the Romans, while Upper Street first took shape in the fourteenth century when it formed part of the Great North Road. The Islington of old straddled the main route from London towards northern England and was approached via a toll gate at the Angel; place names such as Sadler’s Wells and Clerkenwell still indicate the site of the freshwater springs located at the foot of the hill below central Islington. In the seventeenth century, the New River was constructed to bring water from the River Lea in Hertfordshire all the way into London. Though it no longer flows above ground, it’s still possible to walk through Islington alongside the Regent’s Canal – this arrived in 1820, when Islington had joined the rest of London as a largely working-class residential neighbourhood. The area's more recent reputation as home to the capital’s liberal intelligentsia was cemented in 1994 when Tony Blair and Gordon Brown famously cooked up a deal to take turns as Prime Minister in the (now long-gone) Granita restaurant.

Highbury fields see do parks gardens large large

Islington

Islington bustles day and night with shoppers, diners and culture vultures.
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