Teeming with quirky bars, creatives, and art school grads, Dalston has its finger firmly on the East London pulse. The cafe culture of Stoke Newington is just to the north, while Shoreditch, with its nightlife and boutiques, is to the south. Here, organic greengrocers jostle with Turkish corner stores, artisan cafes and some very hip pubs, and there's a higher concentration of artists than anywhere else in Europe. So if you like your clothes vintage and your bread handmade, then this is the spot for you. After you've explored all of this and more, return home to St Mark's Rise, a family house that's colourful, welcoming and that little bit unexpected just the way you want it.
Like many of her neighbours, your hostess is an artist. She specialises in landscapes, and since leaving the Courtauld she's worked for the likes of Warner Bros and Saatchi & Saatchi. Polish by birth, when not in her studio, she lectures at the National Gallery.
Your hostess loves to travel, and you'll find her souvenirs scattered all around her cosy sitting room, alongside a wooden fireplace and several of her own paintings. Light drifts through gauzy drapes onto the two deep sofas and a wonderful collection of books, while next door, the kitchen diner puts a London spin onto the rustic table, the hanging pots and duck-egg blue cabinets.
There's a narrow bedroom down on the ground floor, multi-coloured textiles and rich walls giving the space something of the feel of a Bedouin tent. The other bedrooms are up the stairs, and here, too, you'll find a hallway study, with views out into the trees. The master bedroom has a king-sized bed beneath the gently sloping ceiling, alongside stripped wood antique furniture. There's a definite musical theme to the second bedroom, a large space containing not just a double bed and a sofa bed, but a piano and even a full-sized harp. The family bathroom's fresh, with walls in slate and cerulean, and a powerful walk-in shower.
From the Turkish restaurants of Kingsland Road, to the locally iconic Rio cinema, Dalston is a multi cultural hotspot. There are trendy bars a-plenty and you might just spot the next big thing DJing at an underground pop up night. For more sedate delights, head up to Stoke Newington and while away an afternoon in the offbeat boutiques of Church Street, or sun yourself in Clissold Park before dinner in Homa or Il Bacio. Score tickets to the Arcola Theatre, walk to Upper Street, or head into town. The journey to Piccadilly Circus by rail and tube takes around forty minutes.