Accessible Shoreditch HangoutsBy Samantha Renke -
There really never is a dull moment in London, as I found out for myself four years ago when I relocated from rural Lancashire to the trendy, hipster district that is Shoreditch, located in East London.
Like all London ‘newbies’ I wanted to see what the city had to offer and spent most of my evenings exploring my new environment, working my way through hundreds of cocktail menus as I went!
Shoreditch really did not disappoint, with a fresh arty, bohemian vibe and lots of pop up bars and restaurants to cater for everyone’s individual tastes. However, there was one significant issue: my wheelchair wasn’t always ‘compatible’ with all the venues.
London is primarily made up of historic, listed building and my trendy bars and restaurants were often located in basements or ‘quaint’ (by this I mean tiny) buildings with lots of stairs and no disabled facilities….
Not one to be defeated or to miss out on the action, I decided to go on a hunt with my friends for amazing venues that welcomed me and my wheels.
It has been no easy task: months of dining out, drinking and socialising but someone had to do it and hopefully my research will be found useful. So here are my top five uber accessible and fantastic haunts in Shoreditch and its surrounding areas.
1. BOXPARK SHOREDITCH
BOXPARK is a breath of fresh air. It is constructed out of shipping containers which creates a variety of pop up stores, galleries, cafes and restaurants. During the summer months you can catch live music performances and chill with a cool beverage. There are usually promotional stands offering free products which is always a positive!
Although the shipping containers are not massive, they are by no means cramped or cluttered making them pleasantly accessible. There is lift access to the roof terrace, which houses restaurants and bars, but take note that upstairs can get extremely busy on weekends.
One of the best features of BOXPARK is that it is situated directly next to Shoreditch station which is completely accessible with level platforms and toilet facilities. All in all, thumbs up.
2. THE MAGIC ROUNDABOUT - Old Street
When one of my close friends told me that their weekend antics involved listening to live music, eating burgers and drinking a nice cold beer all whilst sitting in the middle of Old Street Roundabout I was immediately jealous and intrigued.
Not only do I live a stone’s throw away from the Old Street roundabout, I also loved the concept of such a hidden gem. I then remembered that Old Street tube station is not accessible and assumed the Magic Roundabout would be the same.
The following week I was at the station but purchasing flowers from the florist when something caught my eye. It was a sign for the Magic Roundabout and next to it was a lift. To my utter delight the venue had lift access, a number of ramps and their very own disabled toilet.
With these fantastic facilities and amazingly friendly staff, I have unashamedly become a regular at the Roundabout.
3. ACE HOTEL SHOREDITCH / HOXTON HOTEL
Ok, so I’m cheating a little bit here as technically the Ace Hotel and the Hoxton Hotel are two different establishments but with very similar qualities. I’ve found that some of the best places that have disabled access and facilities are Hotels.
Now, I’m not suggesting you book into a hotel just because they have a disabled toilet! What I’m saying is that lots of modern hotels have independent restaurants and bars for anyone to enjoy.
For example, the Ace Hotel has a fantastic restaurant called Hoi Polloi and a basement club called the Miranda. Equally, the Hoxton Hotel has a fantastic restaurant the Hoxton Bar and Grill. Both hotels have excellent service and modern disabled facilities.
4. HOXTON SQUARE
Hoxton Square is probably one of my favourite hot spots during the summer months. With many trendy bars, restaurants and cafes surrounding a grass common, you can lazily people-watch and even bring your own picnic.
Unfortunately, not all of the bars/restaurants on Hoxton Square are accessible one of my favourites is The Breakfast Club which do the most amazing breakfast and brunches all day long! If you fancy a few drinks then Zigfrid Von Underbelly is a quirky bar with decor to die for. Both are very accommodating.
5. SHOREDITCH HOUSE
If you want a bit of luxury then Shoreditch House will not disappoint. Granted, this is a private members club, but with rooftop pool, luxurious restaurant and bar facilities it’s well worth investing in if you are a London resident.
If it’s really out of your budget then ask around in your social groups as one of your friends is bound to be a member and members can bring up to four guests to the venue – success!
Unfortunately, the reality seems to be that the more high-end an establishment is, the better their facilities for people with disabilities are. Pop up restaurants just don’t have the space or the budget to provide all of the facilities needed for those with a disability.
I’m not suggesting this is right, but I can see how making adjustments in such venues is simply impossible. However, what I will say is that everyone I have encountered on my exploration has been more than helpful and friendly which for the most part makes up for the lack of facilities.