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Islington

Once an inner-city suburb struggling with social decline, Islington has been transformed into one of London’s most desirable neighbourhoods. With its prime location, unrivalled restaurant scene and gorgeous Victorian townhouses, it’s easy to see why.

Bordered by Highbury to the north and Hoxton to the east, with the coveted area of Angel at its heart, it’s no wonder Islington is such a popular spot to live in. Lucky residents not only have central London within easy reach, but also the most restaurant-dense district of the city right on their doorstep. This buzzing quarter of North London has changed beyond all recognition since 30 or so years ago, however. The once-agricultural area was blighted by the advent of the railways, and in the mid-20th century had fallen into social decline. Islington has experienced something of a renaissance in recent years, becoming the shopping and dining hotspot that it is today.

Being home to pubs since the 16th century, it’s no wonder Islington is a nightlife hotspot, attracting a slightly older crowd than nearby Shoreditch. There are the King’s Head and Old Red Lion theatre pubs, several trendy cocktail bars and plenty of late-night venues (head to Wenlock & Essex for its kitsch light-up dance floor and mirrored ceiling).

Most restaurants are on Upper Street, the neighbourhood’s main drag that runs between the underground stations of Angel and Highbury & Islington. This lively thoroughfare is packed with possibilities for shopping, dining and drinking. The options for eating on Upper Street and in Angel are endless, ranging from the compact Afghan Kitchen, known for its simple menu of warming dahls and stews, to the delicious grub at Ottolenghi.

Islington is one of the most restaurant-dense areas in the UK and home to Europe’s third longest escalator. There’s plenty of quality and cheap theatre right in the neighbourhood. Sadler’s Wells is one of the best dance theatres in the country; West End comedy ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ started out on St John Street’s teeny tiny New Red Lion Theatre; The Almeida is knocking out five-star hits like there’s no tomorrow.Saturday nights at the O2 Academy Islington may not be classy, original or hygienic, but it’s a damn good night out. Providing you’re too drunk to notice that everyone else is under 22 and groping each other.

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