And now Mama Shelter. In Hackney Road, London's East End, an offshoot of the French hotel chain opened in September 2019, on a long arterial road with quirky shops, barbershops, and small cafés. An indication of the district's cool factor, as Mama Shelter's strategy is to be hip rather than posh. The former poorhouse of the British capital has long been in.
"Hackney and Shoreditch have changed a lot over the years," says product designer Harry Thaler, who came to London in 2008 from Meran and founded a studio in Hackney district nine years ago that includes the Shoreditch district. "Many alternative shops have opened, but the boom is almost over - now that big labels like Nike and the Pret A Manger sandwich chain appear on the scene, the real creative scene is heading east," he says.
20 picturesLondon's East End: Strolling with designer Harry Thaler
What remains are cafés and galleries, shops and boutiques that are sometimes sustainable, creative and often affordable - perfect for a stroll off Oxford Street and London's other major shopping streets. Harry Thaler knows the best tips for this. The trained goldsmith studied at the Royal College of Art and immediately succeeded with his thesis "Pressed Chair". The stacking chair made of aluminum sheet is today in the program of Nils Holger Moormann, who places value on regional production and functionality.
Butter bread from Leila for 1.50 pounds
The 44-year-old Thaler has organized catering projects in Italy, such as "Pur Südtirol", where regional food is available at fair prices - and an eye for this in his adopted home town of East London. "Leila's shop on Calvert Avenue was one of Shoreditch's first organic stores," he says. "Leila McAlister has moved a lot and purposely kept her pioneering project with the café simple."
With brick walls and brightly framed windows and doors, the shop looks almost like a village shop. Here Leila sells seasonal vegetables, dried fruits, bread, brownies and English cheese. On the handwritten card are changing full-fledged dishes - a buttered bread for 1.50 pounds is always on offer.
A thaler tip is also the stylish Ace Hotel in the High Street. The public lobby has a bar and high-speed Wi-Fi and is packed with people and laptops down to the last seat. Quickly take another look at the neighboring restaurant Hoi Polloi, a modern English brasserie. With wood-paneled walls and all-natural tones, the large guest room is inviting - and yes, simply beautiful.
Design fans recommend Thaler the Blue Mountain School. Newly opened in 2018, the Conzept Store has six floors of "Best of" diverse disciplines: curated fashion collections such as those by Issey Miyake at the Hostemate Boutique, showrooms with art and design, the highly endowed fragrance laboratory Perfumer H, fine dining at the Mãos.
To Café Albion by Terence Conran
"Around the corner on Old Nichol Street, the Kate MacGarry Gallery showcases modern art by emerging or established artists," says Harry Thaler, "in fact, all of Redchurch Street is quite rewarding." He's right: Here, traditional pubs lined with fragrant Aesop shops, small fashion boutiques to down-to-earth shops like Labor & Wait.
Because their two founders, designers Rachel Wythe-Moran and Simon Watkins, were tired of designing new products each season, they wanted to create a stable place for functional, timeless products. Similar to the German Manufactum, there are things for daily life in the Labor & Wait, the household, accessories, clothing - and in the meantime, the two have even opened a branch in Tokyo.
Time for a break at the nearby Café Albions in Shoreditch, recommended by Harry Thaler. A deli and wood oven for baking pizza complement the cozy eatery. The Albions are four times in London, always with simple English cuisine at a high level and organic food. Designed by designer Sir Terence Conran, the concept includes affordable menus and a relaxed-unpretentious ambience.
Not far from this, Unto This Last focuses on the material wood - an open cabinet joinery with a workshop, showroom and shop. Here, the customer can watch his furniture as it grows, even collaborating in the workshop. The creation of a product is just as much a focus here as the result - that appeals to designers like Harry Thaler.
The name Unto This Last is based on a typeface by the English social theorist John Ruskin, who, contrary to economic liberal capitalism, bet on a human and value-oriented trade. Long transport routes? Packaging waste? No, please! Every buyer can pick up his furniture. Even the shop with its palette of wooden tones is fun - even if there is no time to build furniture.
Donkeys and chickens for city children
"Do not miss the Broadway Market," says Harry Thaler, "a Victorian road that leads from London Fields to the Regent's Canal." As on the village square, the market stalls crowd in front of the approximately 70 shops, bakeries, cafes and bookstores on the secluded street on Saturdays, whose shops are also open daily.
In the past, the Old Porters Path used to be here, since the time of the Romans there was a path here. On the canal itself, which connects Mare Street and Kingsland Road, there is a running track for strollers and joggers. Even cyclists love the waterway with its numerous houseboats and locks. Hackney City Farm is just a stone's throw away from Mama Shelter. City kids can visit chickens, donkeys and sheep almost every day - and the dunghill.
Since 2010, the Café Violet Cakes has been attracting visitors to the Wilton Way in Hackney: outside there are a few simple tables, inside the counter and bakery, a staircase leads to the places on the first floor. Ever since Claire Ptak, owner and baker from California, took the wedding cake for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle out of the oven, the name of her café has got around.
But instead of the famous royal cake with amalfi lemons and elderflower syrup, we choose original English scones with "clotted cream", buttery cream, which brings the hiked city kilometers loosely calorie-technically.
Green booty on Saturday
"Look past the E5 Bakehouse," Harry Thaler said. This is not far away under the railway arches of the railway station London Fields. Founder Ben Mackinnon was fed up with his office career in a sustainability-focused company and preferred to raise something of his own.
His E5, founded in 2011, impresses with artisan baked goods in "organic" quality. You can taste them in the café, while a stone mill grinds flour in the background and exudes a lot of industrial charm. Specialty of the house are sourdough breads. Because the are very popular, there is a tight spot, because in addition to breakfast, brunch and lunch, there are also cakes and freshly roasted coffee.
Anyone wandering around Shoreditch on Sundays will be amazed at the number of people who almost disappear behind their long-stemmed bouquets, perennials and verdure as they haul the green booty home. The puzzle solution: the popular Columbia Road Flower Market in Bethnal Green. The dealers are close at hand from eight o'clock in the morning and sell greens from all over the world, directly from the loading areas of the trucks, in stalls or in small shops.
At an advanced hour, so around 14 clock, there is the lush proliferating flowers at a spin price. Here, on London's most important flower market, the whole love of the British reveals itself to the green. "Watching, strolling, watching - this is always a pleasure here on Sundays," says Harry Thaler.
Franziska Horn is a freelance writer for SPIEGEL ONLINE. The trip was supported by the hotel chain Mama Shelter.