From Dickensian beginnings – where its squalid warrens of narrow dimly-lit streets fell foul to poverty and overcrowding, to the infamous Jack the Ripper, Kray Twins and the Elephant Man, the East End has always played a compelling part in London’s fascinating history. A short stop to examine the interiors of The Ten Bells or the Blind Beggar, two of the area’s most infamous pubs, instantly immerses you into Whitechapel’s murky and villainous past. Be prepared for bullet holes, ghost stories and a good ol’ fashioned British pint.
Fast-forwarding to the modern day, Whitechapel is a melting pot of Jewish and Bangladeshi communities, Hipsters, Cockneys and folk from all over the Commonwealth. In fact, the deep sonorous calls to prayer that erupt from the East London Mosque every day has come to define Whitechapel’s multicultural present. This multiculturalism is reflected in East London’s vast array of culinary delights. Brick Lane is home to some of London’s most revered curry houses, whilst you can also find delectable kosher bagels, Neapolitan pizza and East London’s famous pickles in Spitalfields market. Here lies a taste to excite every tongue!
Whitechapel’s rich culture extends beyond its digestibles – as you stroll the streets of this enriching neighbourhood you will pass one of London’s most prized and intimate art galleries that once housed some of Picasso’s early work. From an old master to modern day ones – witness an explosion of spray-painted colour as we explore alleys and annexes – the work of artists such as Banksy, D*Face and many more await you. Keep going and you will come across quaint microbreweries, dope hipster coffee hangouts and an abundance of trendy vintage clothes shops – there is no end to what you can discover in this slick and effervescent corner of London.
Sahil is a candidate for the 2023 Les Clefs d’Or Award. This article has been published in its original form.
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I have been a member of the Society of Golden Keys of Great Britain since 2018, and have been working as a concierge in London for over ten years and more recently as Assistant Head Concierge at The Berkeley. Delivering an exceptional guest experience is incredibly important to me, as are developing the relationships that I have within my industry and workplace. My role is to provide solutions and ideas, to be creative as well as knowledgeable. Creating the perfect stay for a guest, whether it’s recommending the latest restaurants, or securing much coveted tickets to an event in London, makes guests feel looked after and incredibly special. It also doesn’t stop at the guest, as a good concierge you also need to mentor others and share your knowledge, whilst also going above and beyond your everyday duties and be a true team player. I mentor and train newer team members by guiding and teaching on how to develop into thoughtful, well rounded Concierge’s. Coming up with new ways of working or ideas comes naturally to me and I am always willing to share this across the team if it works well – I really do love my job!
Nestled between bustling Knightsbridge and leafy Belgravia, The Berkeley is the essence of contemporary chic and innovative luxury. Stunning rooms, suites and penthouses are created by an eclectic curation of interior designers from Andre Fu to John Heah, and guests are invited to swim in the hotel’s rooftop pool with jaw dropping Hyde Park views. Michelin-starred cuisine is courtesy of Marcus Wareing, whilst the hotel’s Prêt-à-Portea is a much loved fashion-themed afternoon tea, a true signature of The Berkeley. Cedric Grolet at The Berkeley opened in 2022, seeing one of the world’s most famous pastry chefs open his first patisserie outside of Paris at the hotel. The iconic Blue Bar – designed by the legendary late David Collins - spearheaded the hotel bar drinking movement, whilst The Berkeley Bar & Terrace is a must visit for classic cocktails and exemplary champagnes, spirits and wines. The Bamford Wellness Spa allows guests and visitors to unwind with a whole host of rotating residencies from the best in the wellness world. And finally, The Berkeley – with innovation and creative thinking at its core – presents a new alfresco dining pop up every six months to surprise and enchant locals, Londoners, guests and more. Currently, this spot is a pop up pub complete with bar, beer taps, pies of the day and dart board!
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