Ask Joan

London for fashion and food, finding the craic in Ireland

Sunday is the best day for Brick Lane Market, where you can browse for unusual clothes, jewellery and bric-a-brac and and be tempted by the huge selection of ethnic foods

Sunday is the best day for Brick Lane Market, where you can browse for unusual clothes, jewellery and bric-a-brac and and be tempted by the huge selection of ethnic foods

 

My girlfriend loves exploring and shopping in markets so I would like to take her to London for a weekend where she could indulge her passion for fashion. Can you suggest a few things we would enjoy? – ED, Dublin

London has so much to offer all generations and I think the area around the City and Shoreditch would appeal to you and your girlfriend. It has gone through a tremendous regeneration in recent years and is really on trend.

If you want to push the boat out the Andaz Hotel at Liverpool Street is a great weekend bargain. Rates during the week are from £366 (€466) and drop to £190 (€243) at weekends. It is a five star hotel with great restaurants, lively bars and lovely personal service.

It is right at Liverpool Street, so perfect for coming from Stansted or London City airports, andaz.hyatt.com. It is also has a Masonic Temple, which they might show you, if you ask.

At the other end of the budget the Travel Lodge at Harrow Place is very reasonably priced and if you book in advance it can be under £100 (€128) per night, travellodge.com.

Spitalfields Market is a must especially on Saturdays when it is dedicated to fashion, spitalfields.co.uk. Sunday is the best day for Brick Lane Market, where you can browse for unusual clothes, jewellery and bric-a-brac.

It is also a cornucopia of ethnic foods from the Bangladeshi curry houses to original Jewish bagels and everything in between. Sunday is also Petticoat Lane market day and stalls are up from early.

If she likes food markets, then visit Borough Market. Stalls are full of the best food in Britain and Europe with lots of stalls and restaurants for buying ready prepared meals. It lies in the shadow of Southwark Cathedral and now the Shard.

Eating out places to check out include Sushi Sambo on the 38th floor of Heron Tower, Albion Caff on Boundary Street, Hawksmoor on Commercial St for posh eats, Polo Bar on Bishopsgate for late night snacks and Dirty Martini also on Bishopsgate for clubbing.

We are two friends with limited resources and would love to have a bit of craic and entertainment for a few days in Ireland.

– GS, Kildare.

Going to a town when there is a festival on is usually great fun. There is normally music in the pubs, and free events to go to.

The Guinness Jazz Festival has been transforming Cork for many years and the music has become more eclectic over time. This year Imelda May and the Frank and Walters are also featuring. Hotels in Cork are pretty pricey for the festival but I have seen some nice accommodation on airbnb.com from €45-€100 per night for two. See what other festivals are coming up on discoverireland.ie.

Other fun towns include Kenmare, where you could stay in the Kenmare Bay Hotel for three nights midweek, or two nights at the weekend for €99pps with dinner one evening, kenmarebayhotel.com. Clonakilty has a reputation for good music and QualityInnClonakilty.com has offers from €54pps including dinner.

Galway is lively all year round, most pubs have music and there is a lot to see. Find hotels under €100 per night on booking.com, and B&Bs on bandbireland.com.

Westport is another fun town with good food, craic and music. The Harbour Mill apartments are €269 for four nights in a two-bedroom property. Or the Wyatt and Mill Times hotels have good prices around €60pps with dinner.

Send your queries to jscales@irishtimes.com

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