Sitting across vast swathes of East and South London, the Docklands area occupies space through several of the Capital’s boroughs including, Lewisham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Greenwich. The docks were formerly part of the Port of London, which through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was classed as one of the world’s busiest shipping ports.
Following the closure of the docks in the 1970s, the area fell into disrepair and became derelict by the 1980s. This prompted successive governments to open the area up to investment for regeneration, with various property developers muscling in on what has now become the only undeveloped stretch of land in London.
Areas such as Royal Wharf on the north bank of the River Thames have become residential and commercial hotspots, along with neighboring districts such as Silvertown. Both have benefited from billions in investment, with Royal Wharf essentially being a new town built from the ground up. As a part of the regeneration project in that section of the docklands, 3,385 new residences are being built, as well as a new high street, primary school and DLR station.
In the area
Spending the night in a former prison doesn’t sound so appealing but there’s one in Docklands that will certainly make you rethink that. The Good Hotel, was formerly a detention centre for illegal immigrants in the Netherlands, but has now been transformed into 144-room boutique barge that serves local food and beer and feature a green roof inspired by New York City's High Line. After docking in 2016 a short away from the grand ExCel London, £110-a-night will seem like a bargain to be locked up on your own accord.
During the 2012 Olympics, the Broadcast and Press Centres in Stratford became a 24-hour media hub, broadcasting to an estimated four billion people across the globe. The 1.2 m square-foot campus, now known as Here East, is now home to thousands of businesses.
As much of Silvertown and Royal Wharf continue to be developed, most of the places to eat and drink can be found on the northern side of the Royal Docks. Pubs such as the Docklands Bar & Grill and Top 1 Forever are a decent option for a proper sit-down mean, while The Custom House Pub and The Oiler Bar are better if you’re just stopping for a drink.
Being right by the River Thames, it would be a travesty not to include something to do on one of the world’s most famous stretches of water. So with that in mind, we’d think The Docklands Sailing & Watersport Centre would be perfect for a team-bonding session or a great day out with the family. While you can take up the beginners’ lessons for sailing, they also have a variety of other watersports on offer, including dragon boating, rowing, canoeing and power boating.
When it comes to fine-dining in this district, head to Canary Wharf on the DLR to Plateau. Surrounded by the vast crystalline skyline of West India Quay, it will serve French cuisine with a contemporary twist from head chef Jeremy Trehout, while it’s bar and grill offer a more relaxed setting to accommodate for every mood.
Informal evening dining at Top 1 Forever
Good Hotel Docklands – riverside views in all directions
Fine dining spots
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An area with an exciting future
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Docklands high rises
Want to see what the wider neighborhood has to offer? Why not read our guides for the nearby areas.