Floral Delights in trendy Shoreditch

One of the many things so wonderful about London (and there are so many amazing things) is how easy it is to get around without a car.  Many Londoners don’t own a vehicle (or even have a licence) and few tourists who visit bother to rent one.  After all, with the Underground and famous double deckers all over, it’s really not necessary.

Today we’re off to the east of the city (which for some feels like a different planet to leafy north London) to enjoy a feast for the eyes at the Colombia Road flower market, which - every Sunday - comes to life with an array of stalls selling anything you could wish for if you’re a fan of flora.

Getting to the market

All you need to do is take the tube to Old Street (on the northern line) then get out.  Head off in the direction of trendy hipster Shoreditch, in the direction of the Town Hall (it’s about a 10-15 minute walk).  From there, just follow the crowds!  

Alternatively, jump on bus number 8, 26 or 55 which will drop you at the bottom of the street. 

And for those who are sporty, come on a bike or scooter because they’re easy enough to park!  

The history of the market

Indeed, Colombia Road flower market is one of the oldest of its kind in the UK - it actually started life in 1869 but the 400 or so stalls there sold food.  However, as the Jewish population grew, Saturday trading disappeared (since Saturday is the day of the Jewish sabbath) and by the mid 1920’s a flower market had sprung up, operating on Sundays.  

It continues today - indeed, it’s a top London attraction - and whatever the British weather (it’s an outdoor market, so bring an umbrella if the clouds are ominous) it’s a fantastic way to spend a couple of hours.

Something else people say about this market is how authentic it still feels - many of the traders are bona fide East Enders, whose stalls have been passed down in the family over the years (listen out for the Cockney rhyming slang).  They really know their flowers too - don’t be shy to ask for tips on how to keep your orchid flourishing, or when you should cut back your hydrangeas - they are experts!

What time is the market open?

The market’s open from 8am to 3pm (by 10.30am, it’s usually heaving!) and whether you’re looking for house plants, bulbs to plant in your garden, exotic orchids or a bunch of sunflowers to brighten up a room, you’ll find it here.

And, of course, if you come at the end of the day, when the stalls are packing up, you might even be able to pick up a bargain - whether you’re looking for bedding plants or a Ficus Roy (the Indian Banyan fig tree, which can grow to more than 10 metres - which means your living room will need high ceilings).

Vintage and Independent Stores

The main cobbled street itself is so charming - and as well as the endless flower stalls, there are sixty independent stores, selling everything from coffee and pastries to gardening tools and home furnishings (look out for the gorgeous and brightly-coloured pillows and throws) to locally-made jams and pickles.  

You’ll also find vintage items, pretty watering cans and plant pots, antiques and jewellery - it’s heaven for those who are looking for an unusual item or a gift for someone they love.

Stop in at a deli for a sandwich or linger in a coffee shop with a cappuccino and engage in some people watching…then explore a local art gallery or wander inside a perfumery and breathe in the heavenly smells.

It’s all part of the Colombia Road experience!

Exploring the surrounding area

And if, once you’ve explored the market, you want to see more of the surrounding area, you’re in luck, because you’re a short walk from many interesting spots  - including Brick Lane (a fabulous street market), the Museum of the Home, and Hackney City Farm.

If you want to take a long walk, head over to lovely Victoria Park (don’t miss the Chinese pagoda) or head south to London Bridge and the River Thames, stopping off at Spitalfields Market, which is full of vintage stalls, restaurants and street food stands.

A perfect way to spend a Sunday in the British capital!

If you’re looking for a place to stay in London, whether you’re here for business or pleasure, our award-winning family-run and family-run Hampstead hotel is just waiting for you.  We have an array of rooms, from singles and twins to doubles and a family, and as well as a warm welcome, we offer a buffet breakfast every morning - complete with the best cappuccino in Hampstead (made with a smile of course).

Feel free to contact us by email or phone, or go onto our website and book a room with us directly for the best rates.