On-trend aparthotel Kingsland Locke lets you live like a local in one of London’s lesser-touristed ‘hoods. Use it as your base to explore the area's cool co-working spaces, cinemas and clubs.Less
Polished concrete, plush velvet and glossy tiling set a carefully crafted tone of 21st-century urban swank at Kingsland Locke. Just across the road from Dalston’s legendary Rio Cinema, the hotel beckons you into its airy open-plan interiors and miscellany of culture-reffing curios. As well as offering upscale apartments for out-of-towners, it acts as a community hub for locals, too – with an in-house microbrewery, gin distillery and kebab restaurant, all primed to draw Dalstonites in.
A quick five-minute stroll from the churning high street on Kingsland Locke’s doorstep is this urban garden oasis. It’s a free-to-enter green space bursting with wildlife-friendly trees, flowers and shrubs, and a great place to escape the big city cacophony. Grab yourself a seat at the cafe for teas, coffees and botanical-inspired cakes; or come on the weekends for pizza fresh from their wood-fired oven – with some toppings grown on site.
Ridley Road has been the location for Dalston’s market since the 1880s, in that time growing to 150 stalls selling everything you can imagine, every day until 4pm except Sundays. But when the market closes, this bar opens up. It touts itself as part-tropical drinking den, part-cultural hub, serving some seriously good-value cocktails and food from pop-up restaurants. Their open and inclusive ethos attracts a friendly up-for-it crowd who like to party ‘til late.
There’s no institution in Dalston more iconic than the Rio Cinema, which conveniently sits just opposite from Kingsland Locke hotel. The art deco movie theatre has been operating for over a century, albeit with a precarious history that has relied on local support to keep this silver-screen stalwart open. You can watch everything from arthouse to blockbusters in a spectacular auditorium and grab a drink in the basement bar inspired by The Shining and other classics.
When it comes to Dalston’s after-dark music venues, none can match the Servant Jazz Quarters for that intimate in-the-know vibe. Turn up to discover some of London’s best up-and-coming and established underground acts performing at this snug two-level space. You can expect regular DJ sessions, too, playing an eclectic mix well into the night and a bar knocking out top-drawer cocktails.
Long before its hipsterization, Dalston was better known for its Turkish restaurants. Most of them are still in business, dishing out late-night lahmacun (meat pizzas) or hangover-busting menemen (spiced eggs). Leading the crowd is Mangal II, which has evolved a rather more elevated take on Turkish cooking. You’ll find sourdough pide (flatbreads) and lobster rolls next to authentic charcoal-grilled kebabs on the menu, as well as artist-duo Gilbert & George dining on the next table most evenings.
Blazing a rainbow-striped trail at the vanguard of Dalston’s transformation was Dalston Superstore, which today stands as an east London LGBTQ+ institution. Open from noon, by day people meet for food and chat – the vegan kitchen and drag brunch are rightly popular. As night falls, it shifts into an anything-goes party spot with a basement dance floor, kick-ass cocktail menu and one of the most colourful crowds in the capital.
While you’re a little spoilt for choice for vintage shops in east London, Beyond Retro Dalston offers one of the largest clothes collections for your sifting pleasure (12,000 garments at the last count). It’s housed in a huge, handsome art deco building that’s become the local go-to for all manner of pre-loved swag, fashion accessories and one-off pieces. A great place for a rummage if you’re planning a night out.
This rejuvenated 1930s cinema has become the hub of Dalston’s artistic, literary and music scene, attracting performers from all over London, the UK and beyond. The multi-arts space funnels and showcases talent in three distinct areas – the hall, theatre and kitchen – hosting a dizzyingly diverse range of events from live music and markets to comedy and cinema. Programming is rooted in innovation and creativity so expect some of the hottest new talent – as well as some established names.