Hello, and welcome to what I hope to be a monthly blog post for the Holiday Inn Express in
Stratford; your home away from home when visiting Stratford City and
#youonlyholidayinnstratford. I’d like to use this space to talk about whats on locally, and
insider guide if you will, and also highlight some of my personal faves and couple of hidden
gems for good measure – Stratford has a lot to offer from transport links to all major hubs in
London, to nationwide trains out to the South Coast, a special mention (if you happen to be
staying longer) is a train from Stratford International directly to Margate, a personal fave of
Trains directly from Stratford International to Margate station – Journey time: 79min –
return tickets can be purchased for £25.00 return.
Margate has been a maritime port since the Middle Ages and was associated with Dover as
part of the Cinque Ports in the 15th century. It became a popular place for holidaymakers in
the 18th century, owing to easy access via the Thames, and later with the arrival of the
railways. During the late 20th century, the town went into decline along with other British
seaside resorts due, in large part, the cheaper mainland Europe tourism, but attempts are
being made to revitalise the economy in recent years and, to my mind, it is experiencing
somewhat of a renaissance – now replete with myriad galleries chief amongst them the
Turner Contemporary – so-called after the 17 th century painter J.M.W Turner whose
evocative landscapes were based on Margate moody winter vistas. Margate also offers an
interesting burgeoning gastronomic scene with the announcement since lockdown of
several restaurant relocating from London but, my fave must be Buoy and Oyster which
offers wonderful local seafood and the best Negroni in town.
…I digress… Anyway, back in the Holiday Inn Express London Stratford – we have an
attentive team who are excited to help you navigate your stay, so I do hope these
recommendations to follow will be useful to you.
It's hard to believe that the summer of 2012 was 10 years ago, and what a summer it was.
Stratford made its debut on the global stage as, not only the centre of sporting excellence,
but also a rival to other commercial, leisure outposts in the capital. A new exhibition
highlights the sporting, economic and wellbeing opportunities generated by the Games, the
journey of the Paralympics movement and the remarkable changes to Queen Elizabeth
@ Lee Valley Velo Park – 30 min walk or 12 min cycle (10-minute walk to the closest
Santander Bike Hub – ask the team at the front desk to check bike availability £2.00 per ride)
Visitors can take a selfie with the much-loved London 2012 Mascot, Wenlock, re-live the
glory of Team GB and Paralympics GB triumphs, see medals, the Olympic and Paralympic
torches, and part of the Olympic cauldron. The exhibition takes visitors on a journey from
that wonderful summer of sport in 2012 through all the extraordinary achievements since
then and focuses on what is to come in terms or sport, housing, jobs, and opportunities for
communities. It overlooks the track at Lee Valley VeloPark where, in 2012, Great Britain
dominated, winning more medals in track cycling than any other country.
The Exhibition is free to enter and is open between 9am – 6pm every day.
ABBA, arguably one of the most successful pop groups of all time, have announced that, for
the first time in 40 years they are back, with a revolutionary new concert that see’s Agnetha,
Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid rendered digitally as ABBA-tars accompanied by a live 10-piece
band, in the purpose-built arena in Pudding Mill Lane. You’ve probably seen the extensive
coverage of this show, as well as the plaudits that have been received – I saw a rehearsal of
the show in May, and I concur that this show is extraordinary! What they have managed to
pull off is quite staggering and truly a testament to their staying power that in their
retirement they can still pull a sell-out audience of all singing, all dance rabid fans and take
critics along for the ride, too. The hotel is located 7 minutes’ walk away from the ABBA
Arena, as it’s called, why not take a drink with you for the walk – come to the hotel bar and
try one of our ready to drink mixed shorts by those lovely people over at East London Liquor
East London Liquor Company – 16-minute cycle away from Holiday Inn Express London
Stratford – 10-minute walk to the nearest Santander Bike hub (£2.00 per ride)
Built around the mantra: Decent Booze. For Decent People. At Decent Prices, East London
Liquor Company has gone from humble beginnings as an artisanal distillery in the heart of
London’s East End nestled amongst the canals and warehouses of Bow and Victoria Park, to
a major player on the sprit’s world stage, now gracing bars from the low-key Shoreditch
speakeasy to the Bouji roof top bars of Soho House. The distillery over in Bow offers tours
behind-the-scenes to show how the gin and whisky sausages are made. Distillery
experiences, whether you’re booking for yourself or gifting, start at £15 for a tasting – my
fave (since I’m a Negroni enthusiast) is Sprit of Gin Tasting Tour costs £35 for 1.5hrs
Whilst you’re in the neck of the woods, there’s also a whole heap of enjoyable walks along
the river Lea and in nearby Hackney Marshes. A little closer, though you’ll find Victoria Park,
one of London’s largest and most beautiful parks, complete with a boating lake, Chinese
pagoda and pubs dotted in and around the estate. I recommend the Sunday food and
farmer’s market in Victoria Park – one of my all-time food markets and favourite alfresco
spots in London and a lot less busy than the likes of Borough Market or Spitalfields Market
which tends to be on the tourist trail for the city – The chicken Schnitzel Pretzel was… *Mic
Back up to Stratford, again…
Three Mills sustained severe air-raid damage during the Second World War. The Miller's
House was destroyed in 1941 and rebuilt in 1995 with a modern interior and rear part, but
retaining the original facade. Three Mills was used for bottling and warehousing by Bass
Charrington and Hedges & Butler. The latter, one of the oldest wine merchants in Britain
located their main working offices at Three Mills. Here, Bacardi was bottled, and a large
portfolio of wines and spirits was marketed.
Three Mills Island – 14 mins Walk from the hotel.
The House Mill remains the largest tidal mill in the world, although the water wheels are
currently not in operation. The building is owned by The River Lea Tidal Mill Trust Ltd and is
open to visitors on Sunday afternoons during the summer. It is one of only four Grade I
listed buildings in the London Borough of Newham – a great heritage site in Stratford which
really highlights the industrial legacy of this area.
Do you like roof top bars? Do you like cocktails? Do you like street food, and rooftop
cinemas well, you ought to get down to Roof East…
Roof East 7&8 Multi Storey Car Park – 11 mins walk from the hotel
what’s more, it’s located a mere 11 minutes’ walk away from the hotel. Set within a disused
rooftop carpark (which has become a thing in London, thank goodness) Roof East is a
veritable suntrap and the perfect elevation to enjoy the views across Stratford City skyline –
my personal fave is either the Aperol Spritz or the Negroni (of course) – both excellent in
equal measure (excuse the pun).
I hope you found this useful. Please do come speak to the team if you need help deciding
what to do in London whilst you’re here, be in locally, or further afield.
Have an amazing stay