As Airbnb launches its Insider Guidebooks, which bring together recommendations from locals in selected cities around the world, singer Emeli Sandé gives us a tour of her favourite East End haunts.
Airbnb has already changed the face of travel by connecting travellers to destinations in a way that makes them feel completely at home.
Rather than anonymous hotel rooms, you can borrow someone’s life for a while and feel like a local. The company has taken this idea further, giving hosts a platform to promote their own experiences, trips and places to other members of the Airbnb community. Users can discover hidden gems as these insiders share their favourite spots, from an amazing deli to a secret park. Singer-songwriter and East End resident Emeli Sandé has contributed a London Insider Guidebook based upon her musical inspirations. So to celebrate the launch of Airbnb’s Insider Guidebooks, Stylist asked Sandé for a tour of some of her best-loved hangouts.
“When I moved from Glasgow in 2009 to pursue a music career I went to this gallery a lot. It’s very peaceful and shows new and innovative artists. Visual art is always inspiring – seeing how people communicate through colours and textures, the way I do through music.”
“A beautiful space with tropical-looking landscaped public gardens, two restaurants, bars and a 360° view. It’s an inspiring place to see east London and beyond. Plus, The Fenchurch Restaurant, housed in a glass box within the glass building, has a special vegetarian menu.”
“This open-plan record store is literally two minutes from my house. There’s a great mix of music, covering all genres, and it’s run by a team who are passionate and dedicated. I bought an original copy of Joni Mitchell’s Blue and lots of classical music here.”
“This is a big cinema and arts centre in Bethnal Green where I go to see new and independent films. It’s a community arts hub that also stages live music and other performances. To get to the screen you walk above the performance space and can peek through the curtains to see who is on stage below.”
“This is where I rehearsed before my first tour. It’s sort of a rite of passage for musicians, and a really special place for me. The Turkish cafe on site is run by a lovely family, and the pictures on the walls are singers who have rehearsed or recorded here, including Nina Simone. It was such an honour when they added my photo to the wall.”
“Cook Daily in Shoreditch’s Boxpark is introducing veganism to a younger generation. There are occasional open mic nights around Boxpark with interesting perfomers. I’ve met new artists there who are very creative and independent-minded, like Anjelo Disons, and it’s popular with a lot of London rappers.”
Brick Lane Market
“This is a huge market for vintage and crafts. Look out for the guy who sells gold vintage jewellery. I’ve bought quite a lot of his rings and chains, which I’ve worn on stage. There’s also a guy who cuts open coconuts in front of you and serves them with a straw.”
This place is absolutely amazing – it’s the biggest supplier of art material in the UK, and it’s always fun to look around. Being here reminds me how much you need to work on your craft, and it’s inspiring to see the different ways art can be created.
Big Chill Bar
“I used to come here all the time, especially in the summer when everyone sits outside. It’s a very chilled place to relax and enjoy a mojito. I like that it’s open plan and laid-back, often with reggae-infused music. I went a lot one summer with the music producer Chris Loco.”
Columbia Road Flower Market
“I love going to see the gorgeous flowers, you see couples and families strolling with coffees, and there’s always live music being performed. You see people walking around east London with flowers later and know that’s where they bought them.”
Get expert opinions on the coolest places with Insider Guidebooks
Download the Airbnb app to get access to Airbnb Insider Guidebooks. Written by notable locals, every recommendation comes with insider tips and insight, so you can feel like you’re dipping a toe into other people’s worlds. Find Insider Guidebooks under ‘places’ on the Airbnb app and discover a whole new side to cities you thought you knew and those you’re ready to experience for the first time.