A touch of the countryside in London’s East End

Posted in: London Sights

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Hackney City farm pigs
Hackney City Farm pigs. Photo by sashafatcat

By Lara Kavanagh in London

Even for tourists enjoying a reasonably relaxed vacation, the city of London can be a tiring place. But if you’re out and about exploring Shoreditch and the East End, duck into Hackney City Farm for a welcome respite and a miniature slice of the countryside, all free of charge.

The farm

Strolling down the rather mundane Hackney Road, you really wouldn’t expect to find such a charming and rural little patch, but beyond the gates of the Hackney City Farm there’s a cute little paddock full of pecking chickens, various shelters full of chinchillas, rabbits and guinea pigs, and even a shed full of huge snoring pigs (plus a large mud pit for them to wallow in.) Nearby, a small field hosts a couple of lively goats and other four-legged friends. It’s a real treat to be a few steps from a busy bus route, yet feel completely surrounded by animals and greenery.

Needless to say, Hackney City Farm is a family-friendly space, so if you’re travelling with children you could time your visit to coincide with feeding time at 4pm. Besides the daily chow downs, there is a small garden to wander in, tended by locals and their children, and if you don’t want to return to the traffic, hop over the stile at the northern end of the farm and have a wander in Haggerston Park. Bonus tip: If you’re staying at a Cheapo hotel or pension that offers a kitchenette, consider purchasing some duck or hen eggs hatched on site that morning.

Hackney Farm cafe

Hackney Farm cafe. Photo by ana gasston

The café

Now onto the refreshments. It’s safe to say that this little child-friendly café has earned itself a bit of a reputation for its Italian chefs and simple wholesome cuisine, winning a Time Out award for best London family restaurant. If you’re hungry stop by for a traditional fried breakfast, Sunday roast dinner, healthy salad and Mediterranean vegetable dishes, all at reasonable prices.

More info:

Hackney City Farm
1a Goldsmiths Row
London
E2 8QA

Phone: +44 (0)20 7729 6381

Hours: 10 am to 4.30 pm. (Tuesday to Sunday, including bank holidays). Free entry; donations welcome.

More urban farms in east London:

Spitalfields City Farm

Mudchute Park and Farm

Stepping Stones Farm

Surrey Docks Farm

About the author

Lara Kavanagh

About the author: Lara Kavanagh is a travel editor and freelance writer based in London, and has also had the great pleasure of living in and writing about Paris. Top vintage shopping, great food and quirky nightlife are her favourite things about London.

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2 thoughts on “A touch of the countryside in London’s East End”

  1. Don't stay at Suore di Santa Elisabetta, Rome

    My husband and I stayed at Suore di Santa Elisabetta in Rome in early September 2010. According to our experience, and not denied by the front desk, our room, which faced the street, was noisy at night due to a busy street just around the corner. Also, it was extremely hot and humid. Although we made a reservation for 6 nights, we wanted to leave the convent after the two nights there by giving a 24-hour advance notice. (We found a nice B&B nearby on a quiet street, with an air conditioner and for the same fee.) What transpired then was rather puzzling to us: we were told that we are breaking a contract, and that regardless of when we give the notice, we would still be obligated to pay for an extra night. This was news to us, and when we asked the reception desk for a contract in writing, which by the way we had never seen in our correspondence with the convent, we were told that they don’t have it but it is on their website. Due to our busy schedule with the tours, we had no time to look for an Internet cafe and verify this information and had reluctantly paid for the third night to not let this unpleasant confrontation spoil our vacation. As we arrived home, we Googled this convent and realized that it has NO website: No reservations can be made on-line, they have to be either e-mailed or faxed in, and no confirmation regarding our reservation, which was e-mailed to us months ago, contained any rules. So, we definitely feel that we have been taken advantage of and do not recommend staying there.
    Tania Apfel

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