Cool Places - The best places to stay in the UK

The Best Places to Stay in the UK

Stoke Newington

Stoke Newington locals will insist on referring to their neighbourhood a ‘village’ – but it’s not often you stumble across a village as diverse and as vibrant as this. ‘Stokey’, as it’s fondly known, is a compelling blend. Not as painfully hip as Shoreditch nor as edgy as Dalston, and without the plummy-posh gloss of Islington, it’s a laid-back, creative and multicultural place that offers the best elements of all the neighbouring districts, peppers them up with a dash of spice, and wins fierce loyalty from its inhabitants. And teasing aside, the ‘village’ epithet isn’t totally preposterous, either; unlike most other London neighbourhoods, here independent shops, restaurants and pubs rule the roost and there's barely a chain to be seen). Two lively main thoroughfares (Church Street is funkier, the High Street grittier) form the hub of the community; meanwhile, what seems like the entire local population hangs out in Clissold Park on sunny summer afternoons. You’ll rub shoulders with yummy mummies and edgy eccentrics, Spanish anarchists and bibulous barflies, bookish types and Turkish musicians, taxi drivers, teachers and street-smart kids. Quite simply, if you’re looking for a lively and mixed London neighbourhood with lots of good places to eat, drink and shop, Stokey’s pretty hard to beat.

History

Stoke Newington has long been associated with radicalism and Nonconformism. Dissenters of different stripes who have called the area home include Daniel Defoe (after whom a local pub and a local street is named), the early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, and Salvation Army founder William Booth. In the 19th century Stoke Newington had the largest population of Quakers in London and quietly prospered as a middle-class suburb. With increasing poverty and large-scale immigration after World War II, however, its character began to change, and by the 1960s and 1970s the area was a hotbed of radical and anarchist politics. Famously, 1971 saw the arrest of ‘the Stoke Newington Eight’ – accused, as members of the so-called ‘Angry Brigade’, of bombing and planning to bomb the homes of various establishment figures. Since the 1990s the area has seen gentle but relentless gentrification, its ramshackle squats and anarchist cafés giving way to upscale restaurants and artisan bakeries. Despite it all, however, Stoke Newington manages to retain its laid-back, libertarian edge.

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Stoke Newington

Locals call ‘Stokey’ a village – but there are few villages as diverse and vibrant as this one.
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