Islington area guide
Originally named Gislandune by the Saxons, "GÄ«sla's hill" from the Old English personal name GÄ«sla and dun ("hill", "down"). The name later mutated to Isledon, which remained in use well into the 17th century when the modern form arose. In medieval times, Islington was one of many small districts, along with Bernersbury, Neweton Berewe or Hey-bury and Canonesbury (Barnsbury, Highbury and Canonbury – names first recorded in the 13th and 14th centuries).
The fields between Upper Street and Liverpool Road not only housed one of the largest farms in the neighbourhood but provided forage and shelter for these passing herds and in time the area became famous for its dairy herds and produce, supplying London with butter, cream and milk. As the population of London grew, brick terraces began to take over the agricultural land. Local farmers turned to manufacturing bricks and developing property.
Nowadays, Islington provides city living with a neighbourhood feel. There are many quiet, leafy roads with houses that remind you of an era long gone, which are all in relative close proximity to lively and vibrant hotspots that have every amenity you would expect from modern city living.
Food and Drink
The borough of Islington is nothing if not littered with amazing eateries, pubs and bars! From budget dining, quirky cafes to award-winning cocktail bars and cosy pubs. We’ve listed just a few of the best below to get you started when moving to your new neighbourhood.
Cafes: Obviously Islington hasn’t escaped the clutches of Starbucks, Costa et al, but for independent coffee shops try:
- Euphorium Bakery - Famously home to Reckless Records which inspired Nick Hornby to write High Fidelity 79 Upper Street Islington, London N1 0NU
- CoffeeWorks Project: For passionate coffee lovers and fans of home-made cakes
- Kipferl: Stunning Viennese coffehouse
- The Breakfast Club: Small but expanding London chain- head here for mouthwatering pancakes and breakfast buritos
Restaurants: Islington has an extensive range of budget eateries and high-end restaurants. Our favourites include:
- Frederick’s: Family-run, beautiful restaurant nestled in Camden Passage. Available for private hire (and weddings!), or just pop in to the bar for a cocktail
- Ottolenghi: Located opposite the Almeida, this deli/restaurant gets chocka during the pre-theatre slot, so book ahead. Reservations taken evenings only
- Le Mercury: This long-standing and amazingly good-value French restaurant has been a favourite for Londoners for the best part of 30 years. Great atmosphere if a little snug when packed!
- Sen Nin: Watch the chefs prepare and cook your meal in front of you at this quirky but fun Japanese restaurant on Upper Street.
- 100 Islington: Great drinks, amazing (Asian-style) food and fabulous hospitality!
- Bellanger: From the team that brought London The Wolseley, The Delaunay, Colbert and Brasserie Zedel. Expect fewer celebs than at the Wolseley but the same fantastic-tasting food. Open for brunch, lunch and dinner.
Bars: From award-winning cocktails to bras on ceilings, Islington has it all!
- Barrio Angel: Music - check, Cocktails - check, Caravan…? Check! Barrio Angel brings the small Latin-American chain to N1.
- 69 Colebrooke Row: Esteemed bar-guru Tony Conigliaro’s first London venue and ‘the bar with no name’ is a mecca for cocktail-lovers. Small and surprisingly affordable. Book ahead!
- Slim Jim’s Liquor Store: Prefer your drinks with a little more oomph and rock-n-roll? Then Slim Jim’s is your bar. Neon signs, masses of whiskeys, ear-bleeding rock n’ metal and bras adorning the ceiling. Fun nights guaranteed!
- Little Bat: One of Islington’s newest additions, Little Bat pulls no punches when it comes to cocktails, as it’s the little sister of multi-award-winning Shoreditch speakeasy, Callooh Callay. Beautiful decor and great bar snacks and a great welcoming vibe.
Pubs: Islington is heaving with brilliant pubs, but some of the best are:
- The Old Queen’s Head: Karaoke, quiz nights, great roasts and live music make this one of Islington’s best pubs
- Island Queen: Great food and a reasonably tricky quiz
- Draper’s Arms: A five-minute walk off Upper Street, this is great in the summer (beer garden) and for family dining as they offer HUGE meals such as the Shepherd’s pie for 3-4 people.
- Brewhouse & Kitchen: Huge selection of craft and international beers plus a fantastic little heated courtyard
If you’re looking for high-street shops, head to Angel Central for everything from H&M, Muji, Argos to Gap and Tiger. For more independent shopping…
Hexagone boutique for everything ‘arty’ from vases to pictures to luggage
Gill Wing group offers a wide range of products - from kitchenware to jewellery and great birthday and Christmas gifts.
Diverse Clothing - bringing together a wide range of independent clothing brands - from dresses and skirts to bags and shoes. Collections change frequently.
Whether you’ve dogs to walk or Children to tire out, Islington has it all when it comes to green spaces!
Barnard Parl and Adventure Playground: http://directory.islington.gov.uk/kb5/islington/directory/results.page?searchtype=event&activity=5
Highbury Fields: https://www.islington.gov.uk/sports-parks-and-trees/parks-and-green-space
Clissold Park: http://www.hackney.gov.uk/clissold-park