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Carl Barât in Margate
Image: Ed Cooke, Shutterstock

The Libertines’ Carl Barât on his favourite places in Margate

The indie legend turned local hotelier takes us around his beloved seaside town

Georgia Evans
Written by
Georgia Evans

The moment you step off the train and see a band name-emblazoned footie shirt, you know Margate is Libertines territory. Fans of the rockers will be well aware of the band’s hotel, The Albion Rooms, which is on the seafront street they’ve named their new album (‘All Quiet on the Eastern Esplanade’ – out now) after. Current Margate-dweller Carl Barât and ex-Margater Pete Doherty’s band are just as much a part of the arty seaside town’s DNA as arcade games, salt and vinegar chips and aggressively oversized seagulls. 

When explaining his decision to move to Margate, Barât tells us, ‘Margate had artistic heritage, and it was cheap, and there was the sort of arty exodus from London, and it was cheap, and there was the sea… and it was cheap.’ He adds, ‘I've given so much of my life to London and London's given me so much of my life that I wanted to try somewhere new.’

So who better to take Time Out through the finest Margate has to offer? Here the legendary indie singer-songwriter picks out his favourite spots, from that viral caff where Doherty demolished an olympic-sized breakfast to the underground dive bar Barât and his partner restored to its former grimy glory. 


The Dalby Cafe

The best place to eat in Margate is The Dalby Cafe. It’s that one where Pete actually won a free breakfast by doing the all-you-can-eat challenge in 20 minutes or something. I have a feeling that he might’ve been feeding his dog under the table. But anyway, it’s the highest quality classic British greasy spoon. It’s always there for the tradesmen and closes at two, which is a bummer if you sleep in after a big night. I’d go there for a full English breakfast, but they also do a banging omelette with a fucking ton of cheese in it. That's the cornerstone of every great Margate visit, The Dalby Cafe. 



If you’re gonna drink in Margate, then you need to go to Justines, which is the grassroots music venue I set up with my partner. When we got it, it was a hole in the ground, like the kind of place you'd expect to find the Joker living. When I first went down there, the estate agent was obviously just trying to see if this idiot would buy anything else. It was right opposite the sea, in a basement and there were no lights and when I opened the fucking pigeons flew into our heads. Stepping over the rubble, all you could see on the bar was the last pint, full of dust, and a newspaper from 1996 or something. But it became my dream to bring it back to its former glory as a sort of five-star dive bar and a platform for grassroots music. It’s been fucking hard work, but it’s so worth it. The bar feels timeless, a bit like the greasy spoon really, and it just feels alive again. 


The Albion Rooms

I’m going to keep plugging my shit and say you have to come to The Albion Rooms. And while you’re there you should come to the bar for a Defying Gravity cocktail, it’s my own creation, which I stole from someone, and it’s one of those drinks where you can't tell how boozy it is until you stand up. The main parts are Mount Gay rum and pineapple juice, and it’s a bit tropical. Upstairs, the rooms are sort of designed as one of each band member. So mine is inspired by William Blake, and it’s how I think he'd like it, with lots of gold and opulence. Pete’s is the Dickinson above that one, that's pretty beautiful with its big old brass bed. We’ve also got a more self-contained loft, so that is where one would want to go if you want to indulge in a lost weekend. And make sure to make the most of the 24-hour drinks concierge from when you check-in.


The Shell Grotto

It sounds a bit crappy, but the Shell Grotto. I don’t know whether it's a work of the great British imagination, propaganda or some kind of anomaly. But, in an old terrace house, someone found it in the garden. They were digging a pond or something and just found this massive great cavern. And it's the most beautifully ornate sort of grotto that people think could be Roman, almost like a place of worship. I think what makes it special is that no one really knows how it got there or what it is. Or maybe someone probably does and they're just not saying it, 'cause if they did, people would stop going. But it’s almost like a witches cavern. And to create it is pretty badass, I'm not really prepared to put like six million shells up on a wall. But yeah, I'd say it's pretty fucking far out.

The Libertines ‘All Quiet On The Eastern Esplanade’ is out now. The band’s live shows kick off on September 23 at Dublin's 3Olympia Theatre, featuring three consecutive dates at Roundhouse London, concluding at Manchester’s Albert Hall on November 7. You can find the full list of tour dates here

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