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Sunday 13 October 2019

Floral paradise is a slice of the real East End

During the week, Columbia Road is a busy shopping street midway between Bethnal Green at Old Street in London's East End.

Every Sunday is it is transformed into a street market with intoxicating scents as vendors sell flowers and plants from around the world. It is a favourite with locals but often overlooked by tourists.

Columbia Road is home to some 60 shops and art galleries ranging from delis to antique stores. It also offers pubs, cafes and restaurants in which to refuel.

At the market you can pick up a bunch of pink roses or a huge leafy plant to transform your hotel room, or simply listen to local musicians.

The street market, which dates back to 1869,is open every Sunday from 8am to 3pm and prices drop dramatically as closing time approaches. Leave it too late, however, and you might be left empty handed.

The stalls on the narrow street also sell herbs, bulbs and shrubs and the chatter between the stallholders provides a slice of the real East End. And this is the only remaining street flower market in the United Kingdom.

The market is just a short stroll from the highly recommended new Mama Shelter hotel on Hackney Road in Cambridge Heath. The cutting edge design hotel bills itself as "your home away from home in the East End".

The very funky rooms start from just 
£99 advance purchase and the hotel is situated in one of London's liveliest quarters.

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