After some 12 years and myriad delays, the Elizabeth Line has finally arrived in London. The line has been designed to make journeys across the capital a hell of a lot quicker, with Farringdon to Canary Wharf, for instance, taking just 9 minutes - a journey that used to take 24 minutes and that was on a good day.
While many areas will benefit from the Elizabeth Line, London's financial hub Canary Wharf is set to have a starring role on the line. The station that's been built is one of the flagships (it's even got its own roof garden) and the area is set to enjoy a huge influx of people.
But is it ready? We decided to take a trip to Canary Wharf (on the weekend, so as to avoid the suits) to see what the area has to offer to those who might be stumbling across it thanks to London's latest train line - and it turns out, there's more there than just banks.
1. Have dinner on Hawksmoor's new-ish floating restaurant
Hawksmoor has been a go-to steak place for Londoners since 2016, but its latest branch is perhaps its most impressive. Set up in Wood Wharf, a work-in-progress area of Canary Wharf, it was officially opened on the 15th anniversary of the first restaurant opening and comprises a large 120-cover bar on the ground floor (where you can also eat) and a 150-cover restaurant on the first floor, complete with an outdoor eating area which is a first for Hawksmoor.
We started in the bar, with a Fuller-Fat Old Fashioned (the first time we've tried bourbon and tonka beans mixed together) then ended up eating bone marrow with onions to start, a medium-rare T-bone, peppercorn sauce and beef dripping fries for main. The food was fantastic but it's the decor that really works. It's set on a fully floating building with reclaimed decking and there will be a green roof planted to attract nature (Canary Wharf loves adding greenery to its roofs).
While the restaurant is superb, it's surrounded by building work. It's easy to see that this will become a big destination for travellers to Canary Wharf, though. We did head to the Amazon Fresh opposite afterwards, which just adds to the future feeling of this part of London. It wasn't the first time we left without paying for the goods in our basket, thanks to Amazon's Just Walk Out Technology, but it was the first time legitimately. Seriously, though, this is also well worth checking out as it's more than likely where the future of shopping is going but it still feels like a very new experience.
2. Head to the psychedelic mini golf course
We knew that playing mini golf in the middle of Canary Wharf wasn't going to be a subtle thing to do but we weren't quite prepared for the Technicolor majesty that hit us when we entered Canary Wharf's Montgomery Square.
The mini golf setup has been created by Artists Craig Redman and Karl Maier - if Willy Wonka had tried his hand at golf, this would be the result. It's a marvellous maze of multi-coloured checkerboards. The mini golf course certainly isn't the biggest but it is a fun thing to do - and the best thing about it is that it is free.
3. Seek out the art around the Wharf
Nope, we weren't expecting an art trail around Canary Wharf either but that's exactly what you can do, for free. There is an art map to download - get this then seek out the 100 pieces of modern art that's peppered around the area.
Our pick is Sasso Cosmico, we found it in the peaceful Westferry Circus garden and the object reflects the plants and scenery around it.
4. Captain a boat around Docklands
Up to eight people can fit into a GoBoat and it's a great way to get around this section of London Docklands. GoBoats are available for a 1, 2 or 3 hour excursion and they are self driving, so one of you will have to wear the pilot's hat. Oh, and it's recommended that you bring a picnic along, too.
5. Get lost in the maze of shops
The Canary Wharf shopping centre comprises 215 shops over five malls and they are all interconnected in a sort of rabbit warren system underground (we were going to call it a rat race but that's a little close to the bone). If you are after department stores, then there's a John Lewis. This area is currently setup for those who use Canary Wharf the most: bankers. It's packed with dry cleaning places, smart shoe shops and tailors.
We've a feeling that with the influx of new footfall, the shape of the shopping at Canary Wharf will change in time but, for now, it's all about conspicuous consumption and judging by the amount of bags we saw being carried around, there is no sign of money woes around here.
Our tour of Canary Wharf was pretty whistle stop but there is certainly a more relaxed feeling around Canary Wharf. The myriad pop-up food trucks and drink places shows off a Canary Wharf that's taken its tie off and undone the top button.
The amount of green space on offer makes it a far more tranquil place than we have given it credit to in the past, too.
Walking up to the Canary Wharf station of the Elizabeth Line is certainly an experience that feels exciting - and that's not something we ever thought we would say about public transport before. But the line is a significant lifeline to Canary Wharf, opening up an area of London that has for too long felt a little insular - and that can only be a good thing.
ShortList stayed at the stunning 58-story Newfoundland (Vertus) during our time at Canary Wharf. To find out more about their apartments, head to their official site.
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