Grade II listed Georgian coach house and boutique B&B, The Glebe House in London, is the perfect mix of history meets modernity. Put simply, it’s like staying in a cosy, quirky, beautiful museum but with underfloor heating and a state of the art bathroom. Interiors writer, antiques dealer and occasional gilder Alix Bateman has sympathetically converted the original building since buying it from the adjacent church ten years ago. By deftly adding contemporary furniture and accessories plus vintage finds from many eras she has created a really unique space that immediately feels like home.
I love visiting a place where you can literally reach out and touch the history worn into its fabric. The Glebe House is a space that wears its history with ease and style, taking on its latest guise with panache while still remaining true to itself. An Orla Kiely bedspread sits comfortably aside original Georgian fireplaces and panelling. White metro tiles and a modern, design-led bathroom suite are enclosed by original frosted, etched windows. And you eat your tasty continental breakfast sitting beside an original cast-iron range and flagstones.
Everywhere you look is interesting ephemera and stylish touches, testament to Alix’s clever eye for treasure hunting and many early mornings spent at the antiques market. She shares her home with her son and (rather wonderful) Bedlington terrier, Vincent who I met during my stay and only adds to the general charm of the place.The open plan sitting room is the real centre-piece of the house. This living room was originally a passageway through which horse and carriages once travelled into stable yards beyond. It’s located on the site of the original Manor House of Clapham and there has been a church on the plot next door overlooking the Thames since as early as the 12th century.
The large yet comfortable space with its high windows over-looking the courtyard garden is filled with squishy velvet sofas, honey coloured furniture and yet more objects of interest including an original piece of signage from Wiltons, the world’s oldest surviving Music Hall. A friend of Alix’s was the architect who oversaw the recent renovations there. During a visit to Wiltons bar for birthday drinks, she asked to see around the music hall itself and ended up having first pick of the items they had ready for a clear out sale planned for the next day. So she snapped up the “Live At” sign which used to hang above the stage and the rest, as they say, is history. The Glebe House was a great place to make an overnight stopover in London for me as I had a couple of early press events the next day. I arrived the previous afternoon to a warm welcome from Alix (and Vinnie the dog) who furnished me with a potted history of the place over tea in the cosy kitchen. Then after a tour of the place I spent a couple of hours settling in to my room, catching up on a little work and trying not to get too comfy as I was heading out later that night to meet a friend for some supper.
Best of all, being tucked away a little further down from the villagey-feeling Clapham Old Town, The Glebe House is quiet, secluded yet just a five minute walk to an eclectic range of bars, shops and restaurants nearby and a stone’s throw from Clapham High Street itself and transport links.
Despite the patina of age that such a home has, everything was scrupulously clean and fully-functioning as you would expect from a good B&B. I should mention that there are tea and coffee-making facilities in the rooms but no TV or other electrical gadgets so you can really get back to Georgian times if you wish, curling up in bed with a good book (admittedly by electric rather than candlelight). On a bitterly cold and wet February night I’m glad to say I was tucked up, snug as a bug in crisp sheets and a very comfy bed. With hardly any surrounding traffic or noise and a thick blackout blind, I would have easily slept in without my alarm. A good hot shower, a massive pot of freshly brewed tea and some pastries soon got me going the next day and after one last cuddle with Vinnie I was on my way and into central London within half an hour.
For those who like to know these things (I know I do), The Glebe House is also used as a film location and events venue (not when guests are staying obviously). Last year the house was used during the filming of the new Marple series Partners in Crime with David Walliams and Jessica Raine. The place can also be hired for photographic shoots, product launches, talks, sample sales, supper clubs, private parties as well as creative workshops. If you’d like to keep up to date with forthcoming events taking place at The Glebe House you can sign up here.
Rooms are priced at £110 for a double or £80 for single occupancy. Bookings can be made directly with Alix via the website or through the listing with Alistair Sawdays’ Special places to stay in the UK. Big thanks to Alix for her kindness, hospitality and for allowing me to stay at The Glebe House free of charge for the purposes of this review.