Pillow Talk: Between the Sheets of Kingsland Locke Hotel, Dalston

The bar of Kingsland Locke attracts trendy Dalstonites throughout the week
The bar of Kingsland Locke attracts trendy Dalstonites throughout the week | Courtesy of Kingsland Locke / Expedia.com

This on-trend aparthotel lets you live like a local in one of London’s lesser-touristed ‘hoods, with cool co-working spaces that draw creatives in and cinemas and clubs to keep you out.

Few corners of London have had quite such a dramatic transformation as formerly down at heel, now desirable Dalston. Long ignored as a gritty hinterland, bridging swanky Islington with happening Hackney, the noughties saw this east London enclave explode into the epicentre of the British capital’s hipster scene. Opened right on the neighbourhood’s buzzing high street is the Kingsland Locke hotel, which distills the best of the area into a quirky industrial-chic environment where they pay more than lip service to eco-friendly living. Here’s how to stay right in Dalston…

1. Kingsland Locke


Trendy room at Kingsland Locke, Dalston, London
Courtesy of Ed Dabney for Kingsland Locke

Polished concrete, plush velvet and swathes of white-and-teal 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 in to explore its airy open-plan interiors and miscellany of culture-reffing curios. As well as offering upscale apartments for out-of-towners, the aim is to create a community hub for locals, too – with an in-house microbrewery, gin distillery and kebab restaurant, all primed to attract a steady flow of Dalstonites through its doors.

2. Dalston Eastern Curve Garden

Botanical Garden, Park

A woman relaxes at the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, Dalston, London
Courtesy of Dalston Eastern Curve Garden
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.

3. Ridley Road Market Bar

Bar, Market, African

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.

4. Rio Cinema

Cinema, Movie Theater

Art Deco exterior of the Rio Cinema, Dalston, London
© Alastair Philip Wiper-VIEW / Alamy Stock Photo
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.

5. Servant Jazz Quarters

Concert Hall, Music Venue

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.

6. Mangal 2

Restaurant, Turkish

A plate of grilled meat at Mangal 2, Dalston, London
© Suad-kamardeen / Unsplash.com

Long before its hipsterization, Dalston was better known for its abundance of excellent Turkish restaurants. Most of them are still in business, dishing out late-night lahmacun (meat pizzas) or hangover-busting menemen (spiced eggs) to appreciative locals. But leading the crowd is Mangal 2, 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.

7. Dalston Superstore

Gay Bar, Pub Grub, European

Party in the Dalston Superstore club in Dalston in Hackey, London.
© Maciej Dakowicz / Alamy Stock Photo
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.

8. Beyond Retro Dalston


Vintage clothes in Dalston, London
© Volurol / Depositphotos.com

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.

9. EartH

Music Venue

A music show at EartH, Dalston, London

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.

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