Covid international travel restrictions mean many of us will be looking to holiday in the UK this year.

If a city break is on your to do list there’s never been a better time to visit London.

A lack of foreign tourists means the capital is much quieter for domestic visitors to explore.

And if you have exhausted the usual attractions, and hotspots like Covent Garden and Leicester Square, Shoreditch in the East End is worth a trip.

Our family of four, including James, 17, and Nina, 15, made it a stop-off during the recent half-term. And while the glorious weather meant the temperature was hot, Shoreditch is achingly cool.

The four-star Hart Shoreditch Hotel London
The four-star Hart Shoreditch Hotel London

Galleries, independent boutiques and vintage clothing shops jostle for attention amongst trendy cafés and restaurants. A pop-up-shop near our hotel was selling just sequinned outfits – fabulous dahling.

Shopping is one pastime we all enjoy, and while Nina rummaged in vintage shops like ATIKA, which has two floors of the sort of stuff your granny used to wear but now goes for treble the price; hubby Ian and James scouted for statement trainers and T-shirts.

Straddling Shoreditch and Whitechapel, is Brick Lane which is famous for its cool shops, markets and curry houses. After browsing there we headed to historic Old Spitalfields Market, a site where traders have been plying their wares for more than 350 years.

The four-star Hart Shoreditch Hotel London
The four-star Hart Shoreditch Hotel London

As well as independent stall-holders and a weekly antiques market, there are plenty of high end shops like swimwear brand Orlebar Brown, Whistles, fragrance specialist Diptyque and beauty brand Deciem. It’s also the ideal spot to grab a drink and bite to eat with its food stalls and hipster coffee bars.

A more recent addition to the retail landscape is the nearby Boxpark mall with its lively mix of leisure and independent pop-up retailers housed in former shipping containers.

As you pound the pavements remember to look up at the myriad bright and bold murals on building site hoardings, brick walls and shop shutters which transform the streets into an ever-changing urban art exhibition. There’s even a Bansky to keep an eye out for. They provided great backdrops for the teens’ Instagram posts.

Fitting well into this laidback neighbourhood is the newish four-star Hart Shoreditch Hotel London, the base for our stay. It opened last February but had to close due to the pandemic but business is picking up as lockdown eases.

The four-star Hart Shoreditch Hotel London
The four-star Hart Shoreditch Hotel London

Part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, these hotels have more of a boutique feel and are designed to reflect their surroundings.

Hart Shoreditch draws heavily on the area’s rich industrial heritage with lots of wood, copper and an impressive wrought iron spiral staircase to create a seriously cool and stylish hotel.

Its name pays tribute to the eponymous cabinetmakers who occupied the building in the 1800s, and the giant bobbin outside the is a nod to the silk weavers of the past.

The hotel’s 126 smart rooms carry on this industrial theme with woven rugs on herringbone flooring, light bulbs suspended on leather straps and shiny brass fittings.

Perfect for families, our king deluxe room had an interconnecting door to a twin bed room. Both were spacious and spotlessly clean, with handy plug sockets and USB points either side of super comfy beds. I loved the glamorous bathroom with its large marble shower and geometric tiled walls.

All expected covid procedures were in place with face masks required in communal areas which are dotted with hand sanitiser stations. The hotel is also part of the Hilton CleanStay programme which promises industry-leading hygiene practices.

Following a drink in the relaxed Tavla bar which has a DJ booth ready and waiting for when life gets back to normal, dinner was in the light and airy Barboun restaurant.

Street art in Shoreditch, London
Street art in Shoreditch, London

It’s a gorgeous space and you can see how it would be popular with locals as well as hotel guests.

The name means red mullet in Turkish, reflecting the East Mediterranean food it serves.

Our starters of red mullet; talagani cheese with fig, drizzled with wildflower honey; squid with coriander mayo, and soft shell crab were all light and delicious.

Short rib of beef at Barboun restaurant, Hart Shoreditch
Short rib of beef at Barboun restaurant, Hart Shoreditch

Highlights of our mains included the flame-grilled baby chicken on a bed of charred corn; and a short rib of beef smothered in a rich Turkish iskender sauce, all washed down with an aromatic Turkish sauvignon blanc. Expect to pay from £6 for starters, from £21 for mains and £8 for pudding. Breakfast the next morning was also in Barboun, with plenty of options, from poached eggs on sourdough (natch) to a full English and speciality dishes like Turkish eggs.

It might have been a fleeting visit, but with its mix of shopping, fabulous art and cool location, we certainly left our Hart in Shoreditch.

Rooms at Hart Shoreditch Hotel London, Curio Collection by Hilton start from £125 including breakfast. Find out more about the Hilton CleanStay programme.