Islington is a lively, upmarket corner of north London, home to media professionals, entertainers and politicians. It’s a vibrant, multicultural neighbourhood with Georgian terraces, green squares, and superb eating, shopping and nightlife. There’s world-class ballet on the doorstep at Sadler's Wells, and gripping drama at the Almeida Theatre. At its epicentre is Upper Street, with its designer boutiques and restaurants serving up an array of world cuisine.
Islington’s Upper Street has so many restaurants that it has been nicknamed ‘Supper Street’. It’s a case of around the world in 80 plates — whether you fancy some tasty Afghan or Georgian or some classic French or Italian, just take your pick. Ottolenghi is famed for its glorious salads, quiches, and a changing evening menu. Elk in the Woods is a wonderful gastro pub for brunch, lunch or dinner. The Fish And Chip Shop is run by former Ivy head chef Des McDonald. The menu includes both chip butties with curry sauce, as well as quail eggs with cress.
It’s not at all difficult to find a good watering hole in N1, whatever your style or mood. If you’re after a classy bar with delicious cocktails, try 69 Colebrooke Row or the Ladybird Bar, a modern day speakeasy with oversized cocktails and regular DJs. If a homely boozer with the music turned up loud is more your thing, head for the Old Queen’s Head. Hoxley & Porter is a themed Victorian explorer pub, which isn’t perhaps as strange as it sounds. The Old Red Lion has been a characterful Islington landmark for years, and stages plays in a tiny theatre space upstairs from the bar.
Islington is an area alive with heritage. The imposing building on the corner of Islington High Street and Pentonville Road (now a Co-operative Bank) was built in 1899 as the Angel Hotel. As well as Islington Green, there are a surprising number of green spaces, from Rosemary Gardens to Laycock Street Open Space and Barnard Park. Slightly north of Islington proper is the home of local football team Arsenal FC. The state-of-the-art Emirates Stadium is the third largest in the country with a capacity of 61,361.
There’s all sorts on the bill in Islington. Screen on the Green is one of London’s most appealing (and oldest) cinemas, with its distinctive curved façade outlined in red neon, along with a large canopy for advertising current films. Entertaining since the 1960s, The Little Angel Theatre is an innovative children’s theatre, showcasing the art of puppetry. There are plenty of exciting music venues too, from the inspiring Union Chapel, to the underground Lexington, to the more mainstream O2 Academy.
Arts & Culture
There are two world-class performing arts venues in Islington — Sadler’s Wells Theatre and the Almeida Theatre. The 1,500-seater Sadler’s Wells is a stage for visiting dance companies as well as supporting artists and companies who produce original works for the theatre. It has roots back to the 17th century. Rather younger, the Almeida Theatre has forged a reputation for its programme of work by playwrights old and new, British and foreign since the 1980s. The visual arts are well represented too, with several art galleries of note in the area.
Along with the usual High Street shops, there are plenty of quirky one-offs in Islington. For antiques and second-hand treasures, head to tucked-away Camden Passage. You can also find vintage stores and boutiques selling designer treasures, homeware and furniture, catering to the many architects and other creative types who live here. Angel Central is a popular and relatively new shopping mall located on Parkfield Street, while Chapel Market is the colourful local street market.