The Dolphin - London Pub Review

By Luke Sillett.

Adored by some, loathed by others; whatever your opinion on The Dolphin Pub in Hackney, this cult dive bar is an East London institution. After the gut-wrenchingly devastating recent news on plans to slash their late licence, I had to go down and pay my respects.

The Venue

Wander down Mare Street and pass The Dolphin any day of the week and you’d be forgiven for mistaking the burgundy paintwork, the windowsill flower pots and the promises of ‘warm hearty food’ on the door for just another faceless London pub. But you sir, would be wrong.  Step inside this infamous pub-cum-bar-cum-club-cum-rite-of-passage and you’re welcomed with thick velvet curtains (they do well to block out the night), a rowdy dance floor and a circular bar which creates a ring road of debauchery, good times and let’s face it, a slightly sticky floor (it just adds to the character though, promise). The beer garden is always bustling and is also a great place to make a few unplanned friends if you need a time-out.

The Dolphin Hackney

No, really.

The Atmosphere & Clientele

The reason behind The Dolphin’s success is undoubtedly down to its carefree and hedonistic attitude; the party traditionally doesn’t start until a little later on in the night, but once it gets going there’s a wild mix of hipsters, East London locals and curious newcomers; all enjoying each other, the ironically cool* music choices and all the joyous wonder The Dolphin has to offer. Though bolshie, it’s definitely not a rough place; just go with it and enjoy yourself – everyone else there does!

*There ain't nothing wrong with a little bump 'n' grind, and that's the truth.

The Dolphin Hackney

Wake up with one of these on your wrists and you just know you had a good night

The Music

Citing Dane Bowers and Vanilla Ice as their musical heroes, you can expect a healthy mix of 90’s hip-hop, some classic pop hits as well as chart bangers – it’s basically feel good music, but more thought out. That might not sound like your cup of tea right now, but come 2am on a Friday night and Sean Paul’s ‘just gimmie the light’ blares out, and you’ll be whistling a different tune entirely. Sure you won’t find any tech, minimal or prog-house here, but who looks good dancing to that? Dancing to Beyonce however...

The Dolphin Hackney

(Totally owned it in case you’re wondering)


With a busy gig roster, karaoke nights and a whole of host of other events The Dolphin is undoubtedly multi-faceted, and even in the face of having its hours slashed is still an awesome place to spend any night. Their appeal to save their licence is up in a few months, and not just for myself, but FOR HACKNEY, I hope they’re successful. LONG LIVE THE DOLPHIN.