Sandwiched between office blocks and council estates are these bustling pockets of almost-country life. In them you’ll find independent shops, pubs, restaurants and a real community vibe. Here are our favourites.
Stoke Newington, N16
What: An organic haven, there’s probably more fresh produce in this area than on a working farm. ‘Stokey’, as locals say, is hugely multicultural and dotted with indie boutiques and gift shops. And there are community flea markets at the weekends.
Shop: Lucky Seven is one of the remaining few independent record shops in London. They sell tastemaker vinyl, carefully selected books as well as Marvel Comics (127 Church Street, N16 0UH).
Drink: Jolly Butchers (jollybutchers.co.uk) is a place where punters actually chat to one another, rather than giving that scornful London expression we all know so well.
Eat: Restaurants range from Sardinian to Spanish with the odd kebab shop thrown in for good measure. The Keralan cuisine at Rasa (rasarestaurants.com) is well worth a try, and it’s exceptional value for money.
Broadway Market, E8
What: The canals, ye olde shop fronts and a hip east London twist make this one of the most desirable areas to live right now. Arty-types playing on MacBooks all day long occupy the high-ceilinged, Victorian houses with vintage wooden floorboards.
Shop: HE Tidiman is an old-fashioned family butchers that has been here for more than 50 years. They’ll cut your steaks as thick as your fist, and the quality of the meat is incredible (57 Broadway Market, E8 4PH).
Drink: You can’t get more villagey than a proper tea shop. Gossip is a modern take on the UK’s fave brew. Here they sell funky cups, pots and shedloads of different flavoured leaves (62 Broadway Market, E8 4PH).
Eat: Come to Market Cafe’s Fifties decor-inspired interiors for truffled rarebit, squid salad and tagliatelle – all bloody delicious, though a tad more expensive than your average cafe (2 Broadway Market, E8 4PH).
Crouch End, N19
What: In Crouch End you’ll find high-end chains such as Waitrose, plus spas, nail bars and indie restaurants, all of which are frequented by yummy mummies.
Shop: Vintage design store Scarecrow Boutique sells shoes, clothes, jewellery as well as petticoats, masks and feather boas.
Drink: Head to independent milkshake and smoothie shop Shake My Shake which scooped the British Smoothie Championships 2012 prize.
Eat: Banners serves hearty portions of Jamaican goat curry in its warm hotchpotch setting of antique furniture and popcorn machines.
Walthamstow Village, E17
What: It’s not all rude boys and rappers. In the leafy village, there’s a different ilk. An active Residents’ Association organises fetes, street parties and street theatre.
Shop: You’ll spend lots of time in The Village Store (spar.co.uk), with its fresh in-store bakery. There’s also a pizzeria selling bases slathered in Napoli-sourced tomatoes, mozzarella and organic ham from Dorset.
Drink: The owners of the cosy Nag’s Head let their cat roam around the pub like it’s a living room; they also love a Sunday jazz jamming session. The friendly place attracts beardy ale drinkers.
Eat: Eat17 is all about UK-sourced grub. The pork is from Surrey; chickens and eggs from the West Midlands; and juice from Devon. Dishes include piggy puffs and apple ginger puree, plus bubble and squeak cake.
What: Nautical-themed Greenwich is where time began. Not only can you hop over to north London on the Emirates Air Line, but you can enjoy independent restaurants, offbeat shops and a rocking weekend market selling top local produce.
Shop: Joy is all about random gifts and ridiculously pretty outfits. Take home an emergency moustache, a ‘Gay Bar’ of soap, or a floral retro-style dress.
Drink: Sup decent local brews at Greenwich Union, which only serves Meantime Brewery beers. Particular favourites are the Chocolate Porter and the Raspberry Wheat.
Eat: Noodle Time is popular with students and locals, offering more than 120 dishes from Asia for just a few quid. Try a huge bowl of chicken soup noodles (10-11 Nelson Road, SE10 9JB).
Catherine Hilton, Physiotherapist
“I have an uncle in Walthamstow and we would visit him to go to the village festival every year. It has a cool historical feel, like in Shakespearian times.”
Sophie Boitz, Unemployed
“I love Greenwich Village, especially around Christmas time. It has a holiday-themed market and there are carolers everywhere. It’s great the rest of the year as well.”
Behram Askari, Student
“Brick Lane during the week has a great village feel. I like the atmosphere and the people. Go to Old Spitalfields Market and eat at Giraffe. The food is great.”
Anje Richter, Student
“My friend just moved to Stoke Newington and she loves it. I can’t wait to visit. There’s so much going on there. It’s a really happening place with bars and cafes.”
Feyre Adi, Student
“I love most of the villages in London but my favourite has to be Wimbledon. I love the environment. I want to go back and go into
all the shops. There are so many.”