If you're thinking of booking a hotel near the Hackney Empire with Lastminute.com why not combine it with a booking to see a show at the historic entertainment venue?
Hackney Empire opened its doors in 1901 as a music hall during which time greats including WC Fields, Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel appeared. It was threatened with closure in 1986 but was rescued and served as a leading venue during the alternative comedy boom in the 1980s. Then acts including Ben Elton, Bill Hicks, Harry Enfield, Jeremy Hardy and Dawn French staged shows here.
These days the redeveloped venue, which has been modified to allow it to stage opera, shows a wide range of entertainment including serious drama, comedies, stand-up comedy and concerts.
Arts and culture
Hackney has thriving arts and culture scene and is home to a number of independent art galleries. Check out The Arch right outside Cambridge Heath station which provides a space for exhibitions and also hosts regular Jazz and Swing and Hip-Hop nights with draught beer and cocktails. See also Gallery HackPH, an independent exhibition space which is located at Hackney Picturehouse.
And Hackney Picturehouse, a non-chain four-screen cinema, is a great place to enjoy a mixture of mainstream and foreign films. It has an all-day café bar. Or catch a play at Arcola Theatre a studio venue which aims to produce high-quality cutting-edge theatre of relevance to the local community.
Things to see and do
Step back in time at Sutton House. Built in 1535 it's a beautiful example of Tudor architecture in the heart of Hackney. The house contains oak-panelled rooms, a finely-painted staircase, original carved fireplaces and a courtyard. An exhibition tells the story of the house and its former occupants.
Take a dip in London Fields Lido, a 50-metre heated Olympic-sized outdoor pool in Hackney which is generally open whatever the weather. Saved from demolition, the venue has two cafés.
Get away from the crowds at Victoria Park, one of London's best-kept secrets, which has a large variety of mature trees, lakes, a deer enclosure, Old English Garden and a children's playground.
Eating and drinking
For food on the go sample Faulkners in Kingsland Road, one of the best fish and chip shops in London. And don't miss the mushy peas. Vegetarians should avoid Buen Ayre, an Argentinian grill restaurant where beef is the name of the game. Non-meat eaters are better served by Green Papaya, a Vietnamese eaterie, or Railroad, a café-restaurant, offering seasonal food from various cultures.
And for drinks try The Kenton, an award-winning and friendly pub decorated with antiques and collectibles and lit by candlelight. It serves craft beers, real ales, good wines and cocktails. It also stages a wide range of entertainment including film nights, quizzes, DJs and Rock & Roll Bingo.
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