Long before the Shard dominated London’s skyline, 1 Canada Square was the globally-recognised symbol of the city’s financial and corporate service industry. Today, while its cluster of skyscraper offices still represents much of what happens in Canary Wharf, there’s another side to the area. When the office workers have gone home, the area is a peaceful place to explore some of London’s oldest areas and the once thriving hub of London’s shipping trade. Following their construction in the nineteenth century, the West India Docks – upon which Canary Wharf was constructed in the late 1980s and early 1990s – were a busy port for trade of goods such as rum, sugar, and timber. Today, if you know where to look, you can find cosy pubs, excellent restaurants, cultural heritage and public art.
Photos by @urbanpixxels. Dutch expat + photographer + travel blogger living in London. Bit of a foodie and coffee addict.
Jacintha Verdegaal, Urban Pixxels
Canary Wharf is one of the UK’s main financial centres (together with the City) located in the West India Docks. It features a unique skyline thanks to its tall buildings, including Britain’s second tallest One Canada Square. These iconic buildings are surrounded by water, creating a suggestive landscape.
While you can’t say that Canary Wharf lacks dining places, it isn’t really an area that attracts foodies. A few high-end restaurants, like Roka, are great but the prices make it an option reserved to special occasions. For everyday dining, the choice is limited to mostly chains. The recent opening of Crossrail Place, a leisure destination on the water’s edge with a beautiful roof garden that’s open all year round, added variety to the Canary Wharf dining scene.
Sticks ‘n’ Sushi is a Danish restaurant chain which produces, as the name suggests, delicious grilled yakitori sticks of tender meat and sushi of very fresh raw fish. The dishes can be ordered from the A La Carte (the best option if you know exactly what you want) or from the Set Menus (recommended if you are in a group and want to try a selection of dishes). We love the Ebi Bites (tempura shrimp, chilli, coriander, pepper, miso aioli & fresh lime) for starters and the Dark fondant with chocolate caramel & hazelnut brittle for dessert.Website
Tom Aikens, one of the UK’s most acclaimed and inspirational British chefs, opened the first Tom’s Kitchen in Chelsea in 2006. The Canary Wharf restaurant follows the same menu and ethos: to use the very best seasonal and locally sourced ingredients wherever possible. Breakfast and weekend Brunch are big at Tom’s Kitchen, offering various option to kick start your day: from the thick Brioche French Toast the Crisp Belgian Waffle for those with a sweet tooth; from the popular Eggs Benedict to Tom’s Full English.Website
In addition to its shops and restaurants, Canary Wharf offers several options to get a drink. Bars and pubs are always busy after working hours, especially on Thursday evenings by the docks. Davy’s, an elegant riverside bar, offer a curated wine list, fine ports and draft lagers, in an elegant yet relaxed atmosphere.Website
Boisdale of Canary Wharf spreads across two floors featuring four private dining rooms, a live music venue and an Oyster Bar & Grill with a terrace. The restaurant serves traditional Scottish cuisine from seared Scottish Highland Salmon to Aberdeenshire beef and Sunday roasts. The bar is a great place to end the night, sitting down with a whisky and listening to the sounds of live jazz.Website
Part of the speciality coffee tradition, Notes coffee aims to offer a special coffee experience thanks to their fine ingredients and high-skilled baristas. As well as an espresso-based coffee menu, they also have a dedicated brew bar with a rotating menu of filter coffees. At the new Canary Wharf shop you can also find a menu of beers and wines, as well as sharing platters that are perfect for an after-work hangout.Website
This East London financial district is home to headquarters of some of the world’s major banks, professional service firms and media agencies. It also boasts some of the tallest buildings in Europe. Situated near to the River Thames, with most of the land privately owned, wellbeing and keeping fit is dominated by a select few. Access all areas is granted to the 105,000 people who work in Canary Wharf each day.
One of the biggest and most luxurious clubs in London, The Reeboks Sports Club has everything you could want. Swim in their 23 metre UV purified pool, fight in their dedicated combat zone, or dance in the custom-designed dance studio, complete with fully-sprung floor. And that’s all before you’ve even hit the gym floor, climbing wall, golf zone or spin studio! Once you’ve finished sweating, Re:SPA offers the full range of beauty treatments, massage and complementary therapies, perfectly located at the heart of the club.Website
Psycle is all about music and performance. They haven’t hired your regular spin instructors – they have the likes of west end performers, backing dancers and gymnasts – people who know how to put on a show and bring the energy! In a darkened room with nightclub lights, the riders are encouraged to move as one – to feel the beat and get your legs in unison. With all the clapping, swaying, arm weights and fist pumping making it more than your average cardio workout.Website
Yoga means “union” in Sanskrit, and this studio has been designed to bring harmony to your practise and provide an invigorating experience for your body and mind. Teachers at the studio are all dedicated, highly experienced practitioners of Bikram Yoga who have trained directly under Bikram. Offering classes every day of the week, from as early as 6am through to 9pm, you’ll be able to find a class that fits with your schedule.Website
The Quiet Space provides massage therapy and Reiki to those who work and live in Canary Wharf and is just five minutes’ walk from the station, inside The Cannon Workshops. A small practice with one treatment room, you can get the personal treatment with a wide variation of techniques, including trigger point, myofascial stretching and facilitated stretching.Website
Being a fashion forward fitness clothing store is the first and foremost job of this intimate boutique space. However, they also play host to a number of fitness clubs including workouts, yoga dance and run club throughout the week and at weekends. Check out their website to see the latest offerings and also book online. You can even purchase exclusive club apparel like a “I’m just here for the Savasana” tankWebsite
Canary Wharf is fast becoming an up and coming area for shopping, with four shopping centres within walking distance of the transport links. You have the Jubilee Shopping Mall, Canada Place, Cabot Place and Churchill Place mall, all named after each area of Canary Wharf. In each you will find plenty high street and luxury stores, as well as a handful of restaurants and cafés. The area is constantly being added to with the arrival of a cinema coming soon.
Zara is a Spanish retailer with clothing for women, men and children. It has fast become a high-street favourite for its affordable yet fashionable clothing choices. Often spotted on a celebrity or two, Zara has great basic pieces such as cardigans, knitwear and dresses, as well as selection of work-wear pieces.Website
Tiger has over 400 stores across 21 European countries and has brought its quirky home and office goods to the UK since 2005. In each store you’ll find products from homeware essentials right through to fun party items and probably things you didn’t realise you needed. They pride themselves on fun and stylish products for their customers.Website
MAC Cosmetics is one of the bestselling makeup stores in the UK. Choose from thousands of cosmetic products, eye shadows, lipsticks, lip-glosses and many more. Take advantage of an in-store makeover from one of the MAC makeup artists, for expert advice and tips. On return of six empty products you can also choose a free lipstick from the collection.Website
Thea Green founded Nails Inc. over 15 years ago. Since then, Thea has created nail bars across the UK and Nails Inc. has now become the UK’s number one nail bar chain. Stop by the Cabot Place mall for a manicure or pedicure, or shop their collection of polishes including the Victoria Beckham collaboration.Website
This American beauty brand hails from San Francisco and has a range of innovative beauty products created and powered by skin loving minerals. The best sellers include their Prime Time Foundation Primer and Lash Domination mascara. Pop by the store in Jubilee Place for a free makeover and advice from the Bare Minerals staff.Website
Canary Wharf and the Docklands have a wide range of must-see places waiting to be discovered, many of which often house a treasure trove of unique stories and experiences. Explore some of our top recommendations below and get the insiders’ take on Canary Wharf and the Dockland’s hidden gems.
Sat next to each other on a bench in Cabot Square are the ‘Couple on Seat’, a bronze sculpture by Lynn Chadwick. This sculpture was recently included in the Talking Statues project and visitors can now use their smartphones to listen to the couple – voiced by actors, comedians and real-life couple, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Meera Syal – deliver a witty take on relationships, bringing these bronze figures to life.Website
Providing a contrast to the modern buildings of most of Canary Wharf, Narrow Street is filled with remarkably preserved early Georgian terraced houses and shopfronts. A wander along Narrow Street plunges you back in time architecturally, but also gives you plenty to admire today. The street is also home to The Grapes, a pub that claims to have a history stretching back over 500 years.Website
Mudchute Park & Farm is a short distance from the heart of this bustling business district. Run as a community charity, entry is free to the 32 acre site. The organisation runs a working farm open to visitors, as well as providing riding lessons and space for local events. There’s also a recently-refurbished cafe, the Mudchute Kitchen, ready to feed you cake, sandwiches and hearty brunches once you’ve met the animals.Website
An off-shoot of the ever-popular Museum of London at London Wall, sits in an old warehouse on West India Dock Road, providing a lively history of this evolving corner of the city. Like its big sister museum, the Museum of London Docklands is also free to visit. Here you can learn all about London’s relationship with its ports and the River Thames. There is also a series of temporary exhibitions, and immersive walking tours organised by the museum around the area.Website
Canary Wharf is the world-famous financial district in the east of London. Housing Britain’s second tallest skyscraper, One Canada Square (otherwise known as Canary Wharf Tower). Working in serviced offices in Canary Wharf will put you right in the heart of the financial district.
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