Britain’s 15 coolest neighbourhoods – and how to see them like a local

God's Own Junkyard in Walthamstow
God's Own Junkyard in Walthamstow - Getty

“Living like a local” has become one of the 21st century’s most unstoppable travel trends. Yes, there’s a time and a place for joining the throng at a big-hitting tourist attraction. Visiting London without strolling down the South Bank, peering through the gates of Buckingham Palace or gazing up at the majestic dome of St Paul’s just wouldn’t be right.

But if you want a window to the soul of a city, if you want to really uncover its quirks, it pays to get off the beaten track and visit one of its up-and-coming quarters – to which residents, not tourists, flock for bustling restaurants, cosy pubs and independent boutiques.

Below we present 15 of our favourite urban neighbourhoods, nominated by locals and representing all four UK nations, along with the best places within them to eat, drink, shop and sleep.

Do you agree with our selection? Have we missed any offbeat gems? Please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the article.

1. Walthamstow, London

“Fellowship is life,” said William Morris, social activist, Arts and Crafts designer and Walthamstow’s most famous resident. OK, so Walthamstow’s most famous resident is really Brian Harvey, the East 17 frontman who once managed to run himself over. But Morris did more to shape the community of this north-east London enclave, which has for generations been a diverse, left-field, inclusive home to creatives and eccentrics, artisans and artists – including Grayson Perry and neon innovator Chris Bracey, whose God’s Own Junkyard (“heavenly junk in a hell of a location”) is a sensorial wonderland of light and colour.

Walthamstow hasn’t long been an enclave. Inadvertently it found itself hailed as a hipster neighbourhood – “Awesomestow” – after an influx of young families and media types who couldn’t afford to live anywhere else in London. Now they don’t want to live anywhere else.

The Village, based around Orford Road, was always the sweet spot, with its Ancient House and Vestry House (a sort of parochial museum about “Welcome-place”, as it was called in Old English), its village square with resident cellist in summer and carols around the tree at Christmas, its Farrow & Ball-painted “Posh Spar”, independent restaurants and boutiques.

The area around Blackhorse Road, meanwhile, is vibrant with workshops and Barbican-led studios; stretching beyond is the Walthamstow Wetlands Nature Reserve.

Even steadfastly unlovely Hoe Street is giving way to the new guard: popping up between the charity shops are a yoga studio (East of Eden), a pottery studio (SkandiHus), a beard studio (Cove17) and, opening in 2025, Soho Theatre’s E17 outpost in the restored Victorian Granada cinema – once frequented by another Waltham Forest resident, Alfred Hitchcock.

Walthamstow Wetlands Nature Reserve
Walthamstow Wetlands Nature Reserve - Getty

Where to eat and drink

Eat17, for seasonal modern British dishes, which always include a vegan curry of dreams (

Sodo, a plywood-and-plant hipster hideaway serving sourdough pizza and top-notch cocktails (

Orford Saloon, for old-school Spanish tapas (

SlowBurn, for super-tasty creative cooking that’s big on both plant-based dishes and seafood (

On Sundays, eat diverse street food at Walthamstow Sunday Social (

For drinks, head to the Chequers ( if you haven’t got children, the Castle if you have got children (, and the Nag’s Head if you actively dislike children – they’re banned (

For an experiential date with beer and cake, there’s God’s Own Junkyard (; if it’s going well, work your way around the neighbouring microbreweries and gin palace (all in the Ravenswood Industrial Estate).

The Village, based around Orford Road, was always the sweet spot
The Village, based around Orford Road, was always the sweet spot - Getty

Where to shop

Word Store ( are twin boutiques selling the most gorgeous clothes, children’s wear and homewares which ladies love and men don’t understand. William Morris Gallery shop for presents for your mother (

For amazing original art, take home neon from God’s Own Junkyard. Gigi’s Dressing Room (104 Wood St) is a brilliantly curated collection of vintage clothing, and while you’re there, have a poke around the Georgian Market next door, or the nearby Viking Store, for all your Viking reenactment needs (

A room for the night

As yet, there isn’t a single decent hotel in E17, unless you count the Travelodge betwixt rail and road, and nobody does. Airbnb it is instead – this lovely one-bedroom flat ( is near everything, as is this house.

Laura Fowler

2. Ancoats, Manchester

Unlike all those newly invented Manc neighbourhoods (Northern Quarter, Gay Village etc), Ancoats has been here for an age – at least since the 13th century. An important textiles centre, it was dubbed the world’s “first industrial suburb” and also “Little Italy”, in reference to a surge in Italian immigration at the turn of the 20th century – including Antonio Valvona, credited as the inventor of the wafer ice-cream cone.

Brunswick Mill, between Bradford Road and Ashton Canal, is a landmark, as are the two neat rows of Victorian terraces on Anita Street – formerly Sanitary Street as it was one of the first to have a sewer system.

As rentals have become pricier closer to town, Ancoats has emerged as the next major gentrification area, with Cutting Room Square a popular meeting place and drinking hole. Hope Mill Theatre, opened in 2015, has established itself as the locality’s main performance space.

Ancoats Coffee, inside the historic Royal Mills complex
Ancoats Coffee, inside the historic Royal Mills complex - lowefoto / Alamy Stock Photo

Where to eat and drink

Elnecot (, where cool industrial décor meets a warm, friendly vibe, is a fine brunch and Sunday roast spot.

Rudy’s ( has been here for six or seven years and is famed for its Neapolitan pizzas.

Canto (, a sister to the successful El Gato Negro, serves a range of delectable tapas.

Little Vietnam, the area between Cutting Room Square and New Islington, is known for its pho noodle outlets.

Grab a coffee, tart or cake at Café Cotton ( at Hallé St Peter’s – the legendary orchestra’s rehearsal space.

The Ancoats outpost of Rudy's Pizza
The Ancoats outpost of Rudy's Pizza - Matthew Wilkinson / Alamy Stock Photo

Where to shop

Newly minted districts usually get to retail last. For now, Ancoats is best for tattoos (Tooth and Talon), beard-tidying (Jersey Street Social Club) and the mini-market reinvention that is the General Store ( on Blossom Street. Hop across Great Ancoats Street into the Northern Quarter for indie shopping heaven.

A room for the night

The Copper and Blossom Boudoir ( has five dimly lit, lavishly fixtured, blinged-up suites sleeping two to 14 people. There’s a Travelodge if you’re on a tighter budget.

Chris Moss

3. Finnieston, Glasgow

Long gone are the days when Glasgow’s Finnieston neighbourhood was a raffish and rundown ramble of houses built for workers powering the city’s burgeoning shipbuilding industry. Today ‘WeMo’ (West of Motorway), as local Wags have dubbed it, is the city’s go-to hipster hub. The savvy set from Byres Road have upped sticks here, bringing their creativity and energy, whilst Finnieston retains enough of its raffish vibe to spice up the grand old sandstone buildings.

The main action unfurls on ‘The Strip’ along Argyle Street, although it is spilling over into neighbouring lanes. Things change quickly in Finnieston, so you might find the local hairdresser has become a bar, or just branched out into serving cool cocktails alongside cool cuts.

The Finnieston was pivotal in kickstarting the area's rebirth
The Finnieston was pivotal in kickstarting the area's rebirth - Monica Wells / Alamy Stock Photo

Where to eat and drink

The Finnieston ( was pivotal in kickstarting the area’s rebirth – it’s still spot on for cocktails (think small batch Scottish gin, not whisky) and Isle of Cumbrae oysters.

Crabshakk ( buzzes with regulars appreciating Glasgow’s best seafood (the shared platter is the savvy local choice), while Peter McKenna at The Gannet ( plays with the best of Scotland’s bountiful culinary larder with his creative multi-course fiesta.

The main action unfurls on 'The Strip' along Argyle Street
The main action unfurls on 'The Strip' along Argyle Street

Where to shop

Finnieston’s indie retail hub is the Hidden Lane (, home to a smorgasbord of galleries and studios; a zen massage room and fashion upcycling too. The Hidden Lane Tearoom ( serves brews and booze (BYOB) in vintage crockery and mocha spiced with flakes of Belgian chocolate. Velvet Moon ( curates Scottish gifts you wouldn’t be embarrassed to receive yourself.

A room for the night

Local interior designer Robbie Crocker has conjured up a fashion mag vibe at Boutique 50 ( ‘The Luxury Room’ is the pick of the 10 bedrooms with a stand-alone bath for a touch of decadence.

Robin McKelvie

4. Kelham Island, Sheffield

From the early 19th century this was Sheffield’s industrial workhorse – a forest of soot-belching chimneys rose from the silverware and cutlery factories that earnt Sheffield its moniker: “Steel City.”

By the late 1970s the future of this man-made industrial enclave looked as grim as the water in the Grade II-listed Kelham Island weir. But in 1985 it became one of the country’s first industrial conservation areas and today you’ll find an urban micro-cidery, independent food producers, riverside murals, offices, pop-ups, real-ale pubs and a mix of homes – some new, others in repurposed heritage buildings. The weir runs clear and the banks of the Don attract kingfishers.

This was Sheffield's industrial workhorse
This was Sheffield's industrial workhorse - Getty

Look out for the triumphal 1860s arch of the Green Lane Works, and a huge cast-iron Bessemer converter, right outside the Kelham Island Industrial Museum.

At the Yellow Arch Recording Studios, a former nuts-and-bolts factory, a fledgling schoolboy band called the Arctic Monkeys came to practise. Other homegrown artists including Richard Hawley, Reverend and The Makers and Jarvis Cocker have all recorded here. A mural of a fag-toting Cocker decorates a wall at the back of the Fat Cat, which began life in 1850 as the Alma.

Where to eat and drink

JÖRO (, housed in a shipping container, was described by Telegraph restaurant reviewer William Sitwell as “one of the most intoxicatingly pleasurable eating houses I’ve ever encountered.”

The Kelham Island Brewery (, established in 1990, remains a proper boozer where guest ales start at £3.90. On a sunny weekend afternoon, with live music and good company, a pint of Pale Rider can easily become three.

Highly-rated JORO
Highly-rated JORO - Zachary Turner

Where to shop

Adjoining the Yellow Arch studios, WareHouse is full of vintage clothing, furniture and original art ( For prints, totes, T-shirts, mugs and more, visit Reyt Good Illustration ( at Kelham Arcade.

A room for the night

Airbnb lists cutlery-works conversions in red-brick listed buildings with waterfront views, such as this two-bed option.

Teresa Machan

5. Cathedral Quarter, Belfast

Cobbled and winding Hill Street in the Cathedral Quarter is the buzzing heart of the city’s nightlife, with eight lively bars and restaurants ranging from pub grub to Michelin stars.

If you want to pick just one pub, the Duke of York ( is a warren of cosy snugs with a great combination of atmosphere, live music and friendly staff.

And my favourite restaurant for meeting up with pals is the inexpensive Yardbird (, above the Dirty Onion pub, with the house specials of lip-smacking ribs and spit-roasted chicken.

The Dirty Onion pub
The Dirty Onion pub - Getty

Where to eat and drink

The cosy Muddlers Club has the city’s newest Michelin star (

For bistro-style nosh, there’s The Dark Horse ( with its courtyard lined with inspired murals.

For upmarket pub grub, it’s The Cloth Ear (; for pizza, try Orto (; for Indian, Mumbai 27 ( and for pan-Asian, The Dumpling Library (

Street art in the Cathedral Quarter
Street art in the Cathedral Quarter - Getty

Where to shop

Find Irish whiskey at The Friend at Hand (, ranging from miniatures at £5 to £11,000 for one of the few bottles of Midleton Pearl in existence. Just don’t do what one customer did: buy a £4,000 bottle and hand it to his friend – who promptly dropped it.

A room for the night

For a treat, The Merchant Hotel (read our review here). On a budget, the Premier Inn Cathedral Quarter (

Geoff Hill

6. Baltic Triangle, Liverpool

The Baltic Triangle, wedged between Chinatown and the cathedrals on one side and the Albert Dock on the other, is a seriously cultured “development zone”, home to scores of creative and digital SMEs and lots of new apartments for the programmers and artists employed there.

Formerly the stomping ground of shipwrights and chandlers (two of the main drags are Jamaica Street and Greenland Street), it has retained a couple of grand old red-brick buildings, including Cains Brewery – now a “village” ( full of work spaces, bars, shops and a food market. As the area finds its own identity, now’s a good time to explore.

The Baltic Triangle was once the stomping ground of shipwrights and chandlers
The Baltic Triangle was once the stomping ground of shipwrights and chandlers - Paul Quayle / Alamy Stock Photo

Where to eat and drink

Lu Ban ( in Cains Brewery serves inventive Chinese cuisine; Manifest ( is strong on Liverpool and Lancashire specials; bicycle cafe Ryde ( is good for barista brews, snacks and cakes.

There are several craft ale bars dotted around, but the Grade II-listed Baltic Fleet (, adorned with maritime decorations, a woodburner and large mahogany bar, and shaped like a tugboat, is the cosiest. Look out for food and music festivals at multi-space, multi-use Camp and Furnace (

Where to shop

Liverpool has always been good for glad rags. Bijou and Vintage ( is a reliable source of retro and used fashions and accessories. Hush Luxe ( is outstanding for pre-loved party, wedding and designer gear. Score sportswear and casuals at Sevenstore (

A room for the night

Choose between garishly punky rooms at the party-crowd oriented Baltic Hotel ( or dock-and-river views and the more predictable home comforts of the Hampton by Hilton (

Chris Moss

7. Stockbridge, Edinburgh

It may be only a 10-minute walk (downhill) from Princes Street, but lucky locals of this pretty, popular neighbourhood still call it “the village”. Compact and prosperous, it’s blessed with independent shops, bars and cafés both old and new, and a thriving Sunday market.

It also has the best charity shops in the city, good vintage outfits, and no less than three independent bookshops including one dedicated to women writers. And proving everything old is new again, there’s Mr Purves’ Lighting Emporium for sales, spares and repairs of vintage lighting – particularly useful given we may all want oil lamps this winter.

Pretty Stockbridge
Pretty Stockbridge - Getty

Where to eat and drink

The Pantry ( is an all-day favourite among locals; The Pastry Section ( for cake lovers; Twelve Triangles ( for bread, buns and door-stopper vegetarian sandwiches.

Caffeine addicts haunt Artisan Roast ( and Fortitude Coffee ( For something stronger try The Last Word Saloon (, a low-key, dimly lit hideaway offering malt whiskies and the best cocktails in the city.

For dinner, Bells Diner ( has been serving hamburgers, steaks and shakes since 1972. Or try tiny radiCibus restaurant’s ( carefully sourced and exquisite approach to traditional Italian cooking.

There are independent shops galore
There are independent shops galore - Getty

Where to shop

Pick up coffee from Mr Eion ( and cheese next door at George Mewes (

For clothing there’s Treen ( for desirable, ethical fashion and Dick’s (, whose ethos is “buying less and better”. Jorum Studio ( is a small atelier for perfumes, while Edinburgh Mercantile ( offers homewares both useful and beautiful.

A room for the night

Look no further than The Raeburn (read our review here), a handsome Georgian house turned gently stylish boutique hotel with all-weather outdoor seating, good food and great negronis.

Linda Macdonald

8. Ouseburn, Newcastle

Newcastle residents in the know, who want craft beer, a great brunch, a good-value gig (sometimes free) or something unusual for the home or as a gift, head to the Ouseburn rather than the city’s more established postcodes.

This former industrial area, a mile downriver from the centre where the Ouse spills into the Tyne, has been slowly re-inventing itself over the last 30-odd years. Industrial buildings are now artists’ studios and digital company workspaces, spit-and-sawdust pubs are now hipster hangouts, railway arches have sprouted independent businesses. There’s a brewery in a coal yard, a café in an old garage and a gallery in a former biscuit company warehouse.

Amongst the cool and creative, new apartment buildings are shooting up like mushrooms after rain. Don’t expect flashy, do expect fun.

people drinking outside a pub
The Tyne Bar is a popular spot - A.J.D. Foto Ltd. / Alamy Stock Photo

Where to eat and drink

The Cook House ( started life in two containers, and is now in smarter industrial-looking premises with a terrace, and serves inspired dishes.

For brunch, coffee and cake, The Kiln ( has indoor and outdoor options, plus an onsite pottery.

For vegan food with your pint, try The Ship Inn (, or, for a good range of real ales – plus music and comedy gigs – The Cumberland Arms (

The Cluny ( and The Tyne Bar ( are also popular drinking and music venues.

Where to shop

Original art, crafts, glassware and jewellery (local, national and emerging artists) can be browsed in the large and light-filled Biscuit Factory (; beautifully smooth hand-thrown ceramics are made at The Kiln (see above); Northern Print ( specialises in the work of printmaking artists.

Ernie ( is a tiny space stuffed with organic veg and ethical artisan products including locally roasted coffees and hand-made preserves.

A room for the night

High above the banks of the Ouse and the Tyne, the red-brick former headquarters of the Tyne Tees Steam Ship Company has been converted in classic Hotel du Vin style. Expect a clubby feel, masculine colours and a French bistro (read our review here).

Helen Pickles

9. Meanwood, Leeds

Close to Headingley Stadium in northern Leeds, Meanwood is one of the city’s most creative neighbourhoods and also one of its leafiest. Its northwest quarter is a gateway to the Meanwood Valley Trail, a seven-mile green artery that connects to a hopping little high street splashed with wall murals, painted telecoms boxes (the fruits of a community-driven arts project) and lined with some of the city’s best neighbourhood bars.

Locals are spoilt by the fact that they can pop out for brunch at their own artisan bakery, settle in for a session at the two local brewery taprooms after a walk in the valley woods, and mark their calendars with community-organised arts fairs and a monthly craft-and-food market.

Meanwood is one of the city's most creative neighbourhoods
Meanwood is one of the city's most creative neighbourhoods - Lorna Parkes

Where to eat and drink

Start at Meanwood Brewery’s cosy taproom (, a community hub with a fairy-lit covered terrace in an old warehouse courtyard. Right beside it there’s Alfred (, a laidback satellite bar from the city centre’s North Brewing Co, and No 8 (, a chic little cocktail lounge with vinyl sales, DJ sets and a banging Sunday roast menu.

Across the road, the jazzy Meanwood Tavern ( serves food from Pizza Loco. Endearingly old-fashioned Marcels Cafe is a favourite spot for a wallet-friendly hangover fry-up, and Zuccos ( is the classy neighbourhood Italian that everybody wants on their doorstep. Ready to splurge? Book the Michelin-recommended Japanese omakase menu at tiny Hana Matsuri (

Where to shop

Wildcraft Bakery ( is popular for its inventive doughnuts, crunchy sourdough loaves and gluten-free/vegan bakes. Pop into Tandem ( and order a perfect barista-made coffee while browsing ethical homewares, or buy a mini keg at Alfred (see above).

Hidden just off the high street, don’t miss Flavour Like Fancy (, a gift shop supporting Leeds makers.

A room for the night

The two barn-conversion studios at Headingley Hideaway are right on the edge of Meanwood Valley, giving a real country-bolthole-in-the-city vibe (

Lorna Parkes

10. Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham

With brooding glass skyscrapers popping up across central Birmingham with alarming regularity, the old foundries and Georgian architecture of the nearby Jewellery Quarter offer a pleasing escape back in time. A closer look reveals a quirky neighbourhood successfully blending industrial heritage with innovative restaurants, low-lit bistros, pocket-sized craft stores, cool cafés and even a Banksy thrown in for good measure.

Jewellery shop windows showcasing sparkling rings are still plentiful, but “the JQ” has spread its creative wings far beyond that traditional base. Start in the elegant tree-lined St Paul’s Square and meander north amid the neighbourhood’s web of historic streets.

The Jewellery Quarter offers a pleasing escape back in time
The Jewellery Quarter offers a pleasing escape back in time - Getty

Where to eat and drink

Honour Midlands tradition with a pint of mild among colourful gig posters at Rock n Roll Brewhouse (, while over at laid-back 1000 Trades ( enjoy local pale ales alongside revolving pop-up kitchens. Brazilian street food at Viela ( brightens up lunchtimes. Finish the night with a dram from the heroic whisky collection at Grain and Glass (

Atelier, once home to Birmingham’s most inventive cocktails, has closed – but will reopen as a restaurant, A | D | C (, in 2024.

Where to shop

Go decadent by perusing the rows of artisanal chocolate from Chocolate Quarter (

A room for the night

Rising up above Caroline St in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter, Bloc’s cosy Japanese-inspired rooms are a wallet-friendly base from which to explore. Read our review here.

James March

11. North Laine, Brighton

Turning left out of Brighton station onto Trafalgar Street and walking through the under-road tunnel towards North Laine is like taking a portal to bohemian Narnia.

Whether you want rare vinyl, a piercing, a tailored suit, a Fender Stratocaster or bubble tea, you’ll find it somewhere in this largely traffic-free street-muralled grid of eternal happiness.

"The legs" of North Laine
"The legs" of North Laine - Getty

Where to eat and drink

Locals meet under “the legs” – a three-metre-long pair of cancan legs on the roof of the comedy club, live music and cinema venue, Komedia (

It’s truly hard to find bad coffee here, but favourites include Pelicano ( and Black Mocha (

It is hard to find bad coffee around here
It is hard to find bad coffee around here - Getty

For lunch try Lavash (, which serves delicious shawarma, vegan kofta and fresh falafel in light, pillowy wraps.

People watch over a pint outside The Dorset ( or Mrs Fitzherbert’s ( The latter is named for the Prince Regent’s older lover, Maria Fitzherbert. His legacy pleasure palace, the Grade I-listed Royal Pavilion, is nearby.

Find everything from bubble tea to a Fender Stratocaster
Find everything from bubble tea to a Fender Stratocaster - Getty

Where to shop

North Laine was doing “sustainable” long before it became fashionable. A plaque on Kensington Gardens marks the spot where Anita Roddick opened her first ethically sourced cosmetics shop, The Body Shop, in 1976.

In 1970, two Sussex University students opened an organic produce store and bakery called Infinity Foods (, while Vegetarian Shoes ( and Snoopers Paradise ( vintage emporium have both been around for 30 years.

A room for the night

My Brighton on Jubilee Street. Read our review here.

Teresa Machan

12. Pontcanna, Cardiff

The Welsh capital packs heritage attractions and sporting heroes into the compact city centre. But the smart set heads for Pontcanna. The leafy, northwestern suburb is, along with neighbouring Canton, home to green spaces, hipster hangouts and cool cafés.

Crucially, it feels properly Welsh, and the locals outnumber day-trippers. Better still, it’s just a 20-minute stroll into the city centre via Bute Park and the grounds of Cardiff Castle, part Norman fortress, part Victorian folly, following the river Taff.

Bute Park
Bute Park - Getty

Where to eat and drink

Head to Milkwood ( for brunch, or to Brod ( for bread, pastries and coffee with a Copenhagen-style twist. Alternatively, Corporation Yard ( is an old neighbourhood pub transformed into a happening venue for pop-up street food vendors (reopens on May 2).

Nearby Pipes opens at weekends for gluten-free craft ale served in a courtyard, plus brewery tap events. Enjoy drinks to a soundtrack of Cardiff’s very own Mercury Prize nominee, Gwenno.

Pontcanna is also the perennial hotspot for the latest in Welsh culinary innovation. Heaneys ( is famed for its fish, or feast on wine and oysters at adjoining sister restaurant, Uisce. Thomas (, the domain of Pembrokeshire-raised chef Tom Simmons, meanwhile, blends French and Welsh influences for a true taste of the cosmopolitan Cardiff suburbs.

Where to shop

Try mooching the plant, craft and vintage markets of Kings Road Yard (

A room for the night

Base yourself at the SACO serviced apartments (; £114/night; sleeps four) on the Cathedral Road for apartments in a period building with kitchens and workstations. It’s a dog-friendly spot close to the Sophie Gardens public realm, home to Glamorgan County Cricket Club.

David Atkinson

13. Wapping Wharf, Bristol

With distinctive cargo cranes piercing the sky, Bristol’s docks and old boat yards were dragged into the modern age when shipping containers at Wapping Wharf were converted into tiny shops and restaurants. Now, switched-on 30-somethings occupy apartment blocks with waterfront views and those independent businesses draw a design-conscious crowd from all over Bristol.

The M Shed museum ( showcases Bristol-centric exhibits that include Banksy’s Grim Reaper, once painted onto nearby boat/nightclub the Thekla. Or come for a yoga class, to pep up your kombucha, or to dine on modern, vegetarian food.

shipping containers as restaurants
Wapping Wharf’s dinky containers house some of the city's hippest restaurants - Charles Stirling / Alamy Stock Photo

Where to eat and drink

Wapping Wharf’s dinky container restaurants punch far above their weight. At Box-E (, diners can opt for a seven-course, unwritten, tasting menu. At Root (, the European-influenced small plates are creative and largely meat-free.

Wild Beer Co’s ( lively bar sells locally brewed craft beer. Or in mild weather, cross the Prince Street bridge and sit on the dock edge, watching canoes and seagulls from the bar at the Arnolfini art gallery (

Where to shop

Pop into Frankly ( for gifts with a social conscience, then pick up a box of lighter-than-air, vanilla-creme buns from Choux Box Patisserie (

Vintage clothing shop Something Elsie ( has loud, 1970s shirts or get your fermented food fix at Every Good Thing (, which has kimchi, kombucha and more.

people sat outside art gallery in sun
Bristol's Arnolfini art gallery - Charles Stirling / Alamy Stock Photo

A room for the night

Next to the Arnolfini gallery, on the waterfront, The Bristol (read our full review here) has contemporary rooms housed in a concrete shell.

Natalie Paris

14. East Oxford

Student-saturated East Oxford has always been the city’s liveliest area and the place to find heaving pubs and bars, a late-night curry, the city’s best street art and its largest carnival. Little by little though, the area has morphed into something far more interesting, somehow retaining its edgy, artsy vibe alongside an outbreak of new, trendy hangouts where you’ll find artisan coffeehouses, bakeries and spirit-makers all proclaiming the unique and worthy provenance of their produce.

While busy Cowley Road keeps a hold on the real world, Magdalen Road and a section of Iffley Road are quickly becoming the places to hang.

The Magdalen Arms pub on Iffley Road, Oxford
The Magdalen Arms pub on Iffley Road, Oxford - Alamy

Where to eat and drink

Perk up with a morning brew from The Missing Bean (, Magdalen Road’s ethical coffee roasters, before heading to the nearby Green Routes Café ( for an indulgent plant-based brunch.

Up a steep hill on Cowley’s outer edge is The Oxford Artisan Distillery (, where you can sample spirits made from grain found in medieval thatch. Later, feast on heavenly momos at Taste Tibet ( or tapas at Arbequina ( before finishing the day at the Rusty Bicycle ( a kid-, dog- and vegan-friendly neighbourhood pub.

Where to shop

Music buffs should head for Truck Store (, a much-loved independent selling vinyl, CDs and books alongside a line-up of regular live performances. Reign Vintage ( caters for all your retro style demands, skaters carve their way to the regular SS20 pop-ups (, while art lovers marvel at Irving Contemporary (, a tiny art and ceramics gallery tucked into a terraced house.

A room for the night

Victorian villas and mature trees line Iffley Road where No. 192 ( is now a small boutique hotel with sleek rooms, some of which overlook the garden.

Etaine O’Carroll

15. Walcot, Bath

Bath’s artisans tend to base themselves in Walcot, a quarter with buttery townhouses, Victorian shop fronts, converted warehouses and comparatively cheap rents. The buildings here wear their history well but, with fewer tourists to entertain than in Bath’s centre, Walcot has a more eclectic, easygoing feel.

Drift down Walcot Street and you’ll find outdoor art, party bunting and adverts for Victorian grocers fading gracefully into the stone. Shoppers can browse everything from hot sauce to vintage streetwear, though there is a focus on stylish homeware and refined, traditional crafts. Locals enjoy popping into Bath’s hippest bakery, while many others descend after dark for live music and dancing.

walcot in graffiti on side of traditional bath house
Walcot has Bath's buttery townhouses but comes with an artistic edge - Richard Wayman / Alamy Stock Photo

Where to eat and drink

Landrace ( is a bakery and deli stocking Westcombe sobrasada and pate en croute. Sausage baps come in milk buns with rhubarb ketchup, while only stoneground, UK grain flour goes into the pasta dishes at Landrace Upstairs, the buzzing small plates restaurant above.

The Bell ( is a live music stalwart, saved from ruin by musicians like Peter Gabriel. Visit Brewed Boy also, a tiny craft beer taproom, while Walcot House ( has a restaurant, underground bar and nightclub, with DJs including local Huey Morgan.

Where to shop

Devote half a day to browsing the colourful geometric prints at EDP (; back-to-the-Nineties shell-suits at The Yellow Shop (; condiments and ferments at Danglebergs; lambswool scarves made on the loom at Katherine Fraser (; or globally inspired homeware at Graham and Green’s headquarters ( Alternatively, join a glass-blowing session at Bath Aqua Glass ( or a calligraphy workshop at Meticulous Ink (

A room for the night

Broad Street Townhouse is a congenial Grade II-listed boutique hotel with king-size beds, just around the corner from Walcot. Read the full review here.

Natalie Paris

This article was first published in December 2022 and has been revised and updated.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.