Whine of The Times

Another ‘review’ of the Church Street Hotel, this time in The Times.

Best thing: Breakfast. Worst thing: Neighbourhood.

No mention, of course, of the nearby Edwardian splendour of Camberwell Grove, or the South London Gallery; that would ruin the agenda. Well, Martin Fletcher, you can stick your warm goats’ cheese on crostini up your arse, and your sneering reference to multicultural South London… [where] finding quality is harder with it.

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

92 thoughts on “Whine of The Times”

  1. I knew there was a reason I never read The Times. The narrowest broadsheet in England.

    Perhaps we should start a campaign to boycott that paper, like Liverpool did to the Sun (I think). Hit them where it hurts.

  2. Come along, come along. It’s a good write-up. The Times is a good paper. It’s no use pretending that SE5 is Bath Spa. Camberwell is not Kansas. “This is not Kansas,” we can safely say, so to speak, every day.

    Well done the brothers.

  3. it’s a good write up — agreed.
    however, I get the feeling that even if the journo was frogmarched up the grove, for a coffee in the gallery, along to the Castle for some oysters and to see the great jazz band playing last night, to the Dark Horse for supper… even if they had been shown all of that then they still would have written that Camberwell was a hell hole.

    And whilst I do quite enjoy being ‘in’ on the secret, I also do want our local businesses to thrive. As a local resident I can do all I can to support the greengrocer and the local bars, but a hotel relies almost entirely on external perceptions, which a small minded national newspaper journo can sway.

  4. I’m with Dagmar on this.

    …But what intrigues is that the piece is predicated on the reviewer being a ‘mystery guest’. But how can that be so if the hotel isn’t open yet and presumably only putting up journos for pre-publicity?

    Or maybe it is open but certainly no indication from the website.

  5. Yes, thank you, Merrick, precisely, precisamente! Molto bene! Camberwell is the sort of place where people use the word “predicated”. My point exactly. Viva! Viva Camberwell! If there is gunshot here, it is because we are a frontier town, a crossroads, as meeting place, not Norbury or Norwood. Arriba!

  6. I am just proud to live here and I hate ‘labels’ that reinforce old stereotypes. You have to be open to change in order to see it.

  7. Yep I agree Camberwell is special but by the article he doesnt seem to have a clue about the area. Went passed the hotel on Tues got a price list yep they are open. Arriba Arriba. Whats the web address anyone?

  8. “The brothers consider Camberwell to be an up-and-coming area and hope to attract customers from the Oval, Camberwell College of Arts, affluent Dulwich, Brixton’s music venues and Vauxhall’s gay scene. It is a bold gamble.”

    I set The Sun and Doves up in 1995 on exactly the same grounds. Camberwell is a tough cookie business.

  9. I’m not pretending the things he mentions don’t exist here, but there’s no attempt at balance. He has his agenda, he’s sticking to it.

  10. The Church Street Hotel website has had a facelift since I last visited it. There are now pictures of the rooms and communal areas, etc. It looks good and I wish the owners the best with their venture. Given how close Camberwell is to Town, it has a chance of working (provided their supply of imported burmese berries for the breakfast table doesn’t dry up!) The article is a bit harsh on our neighbourhood, yes, I agree.

  11. I left a comment (where it says “Have Your Say”), but as far as I can see it hasn’t been posted on the website yet. Maybe my remarks have been censored.

    The article says “Martin Fletcher paid £119.99 …”. I wonder if he did. The hotel manifestly isn’t open yet. I suspect he was just having a freebie.

  12. Something serious has happened on Camberwell New Road AGAIN; continuous sirens and buses stacked end-to-end as I type.

    From my perspective here, I find it difficult to accuse the journalist of exaggeration, although we all live in micro-communities. It could just be the product of what seems to be a general preference for a quarter percent decrease in the rate of borrowing to a one quartile decrease in violent crime, electorally speaking.

    Good luck to the bros., and for that matter Mark.

  13. Yes, that’s one cool website. Funny, I’m sure it wasn’t like that this morning…just a holding page.

    Still doesn’t say whether it’s actually open though…

    I’d like to make a booking soon as I’m treating some mates to a weekend in Camberwell on account of a birthday celebration.

    (second prize, two weekends in Camberwell (;-)

  14. God I really hope it works out for them — they do seem to have gone balls out with it.

  15. I’ve only just looked at the website. The rooms look fabulous. Not necessarily my taste — I don’t really care for the crucifixes — but done with real flair.

  16. The Guardian praised the hotel so it’s no surprise the Times — based in one of the least attractive locations of London, where a 10 minute walk takes you to the Wapping Pizza Express, the highlight of local eating — sees fit to rubbish multicultural South London.

  17. A couple of minutes ago I found two comments below the Times article, both from local people defending Camberwell, although neither from me. Now they’ve gone. Bizarre.

    I said I thought the article was offensive, by the way.

  18. Yep, I just left a comment defending camberwell … don’t expect it to get published though. However I do know (or rather, have met once) a sub editor on the Times who’s a friend of a friend — so I might have a word as I’m seeing the friend soon …

  19. This is the first time i have posted on this site,have read it for ages though,its really good.I agree with the Duke, I think what the brothers are doing is a good move for Camberwell and can only be for the better.Overall I thought the review was positive.Once they get the tapas bar up and running so that the patrons dont have to run the gauntlet of “noisy junctions,winos etc it will be even better although the locale must surely offer the most varied choice of options to eat in south London. A boutique hotel in Camberwell,who would have envisaged that a year ago?

  20. my comment is still there… it took about 8 hours to appear though, as all comments are moderated individually. I am sure that they will get around to posting yours eventually…

  21. there has been a big incident on the camberwell new road, hence loads of traffic. two bodies covered in blankets.

    from the black sheep end of the cordon, you could see what appeared to be one body in the road covered with a red blanket and another was on the pavement. there were no obvious signs of a car accident, but there was a vehicle that looked like it was partially on the kerb / in someones driveway.

    looked pretty shocking whatever has happened. 🙁

  22. The article does what we need it to do. It raises the profile of the hotel but implies it’s too rough (their opinion) or too cool (my opinion) for their readership. It’s brilliant that we are getting so much coverage. The heightened profile will attract interest but the pitch of the article will ensure it is enlightened interest. It wouldn’t serve anyone if the Times missold the hotel to late middle aged reactionary Tory pillocks.

    It is true that there are houses on Camberwell Grove that are Murdoch himself could barely afford but they are hardly going to fling open their doors for guests of the Church St Hotel.

    Even people on here have admitted to feeling too intimidated to try the yam at 4T4. How do you think a pair of 60 year old city breakers from Lincoln would react? That doesn’t detract from the ‘lip-smacking’ quality of the African cuisine on offer. It merely adds to the exclusivity of the experience.

    Screw News International. They need stories about the inner-city zeitgeist we are living. We need exposure. The Radio boys are going to coin it in. You can’t live in Camberwell without having a fairly thick skin.

    If they liked it here we wouldn’t. Eventually that may be the case but for now I’m looking forward to my next foray into the no-go area in which we live, safe in the knowledge that I won’t bump into Robert Thompson.

  23. We had lunch in Streatham yesterday, which makes Camberwell feel like Paris, Nice, New York, Los Angeles, Rome, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid, Prague, Bath, Harrogate…

  24. That is severe, sg. You’d expect to be able to walk your dog and not get involved with motorists’ business, let alone killed.

    You have to be good to drive a BMW. They are not for kids.

  25. After the pleasures of rural Wiltshire this weekend I return to sunny Camberwell and find a terrible accident on the New Road (which according to the Clarendon Terrace Society http://www.clarendonterrace.co.uk is the longest Georgian Road in England). The report on the injurywatch website uses strangely similar language to the BBC website at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6695851.stm

    In other news I see that Bonkersfest (www.bonkersfest.com) was advertised yesterday in the Guardian Guide as happening that day (ie 26 May) whilst in the main paper there was a corrections and clarifications column item giving the correct date (2 June) — how mad is that? (If you’ll excuse the pun)

  26. The 99p shop in Butterfly Walk is selling submarines. They are in silver plastic, just over a foot long and look like a cross between a fish and a lady’s sex toy. They require one AA battery. The subs will certainly give the fishermen on Burgess Park lake a shock as they buzz into view.

    They have a brand name called Kangke, are called “SECRET MISSION SPY SUBMARINE” and are sold in this country by that mysterious company in Daventry, with just a PO Box number and postcode, who seem to supply everything sold in Camberwell.

    A search reveals that Kangke is a remote village in Taiwan where aborigines speak an unrecognised dialect that has traces of Japanese from the occupation.

    Taiwan, Daventry … what starts out as a bit of fun soon feels like something from The Ipcress File.

  27. I’m with you on that Mishmash. I also think that possesion of an unlicensed firearm should be a charge of attepted murder, as that’s the only logical reason anyone could have for possesing such an object.

  28. Olly, I would have completely agreed with you about that until a week ago when I was listening to Law in Action (?) on Radio 4. When judges were argueing about the need for them to always have discretion in sentencing and not to have minumum sentences imposed on them by the Home Offfice, thus ruling out any mitigating circumstances. They were discussing specifically firearms offences. I immediately thought to myself, ‘exactly what mitigating circumstances can there posssibly be for carrying a firearm?’. Spookily, my unspoken thoughts were then answered by the judge who gave the example of a grandfather who had given his teenage grandson his rusty old service revolver to take to a local antique shop for valuation. The judge in question apparently had no choice but to bang the lad up for 5 years. Not sure if this was a real or hypothetical case but you could envisage it happening.

  29. Isn’t that a case of police stupidy in charging the lad in the first place? They would have known the minimum sentancing requirements and as such should have been more sensible in charging him.

    There is a fundamental difference between someone carrying a rusty, old wartime pistol and some chavvy little gangsta pimp-rolling about with a .45 tucked into his underpants.

  30. A car is a hell of a weapon. Causing death by dangerous driving is a hell of a charge.

    The 99p shop has 1lb jars of Indian honey, which is incredibly cheap. Very flavoursome the honey is, too. The 99p olive oil is made of olive oil (i.e. not cold-pressed extra-virgin) and pomace, which is olive skins, seeds and stalks.

    Cypressa (Greek) extra virgin oliver oil in Somerfield is exceptional value at £3.99 for a litre. It is cold-pressed i.e. not chemically or in any other way extracted. A massive 60% of Greek cultivated land is olive groves. Spain is a bigger producer but the Greek extra virgin oil contains wisdom, knowledge, civilisation, naturally beautiful proportions and satisfying metaphors.

  31. Is it legal to sell honey by the pound?

    Call in Trading Standards, I say!

    (But just let me pop down there first…)

  32. Have they got the wooden coat hangers back in yet? Those were genius. (I think you got 6 for 99p)

  33. Merrick/Olly

    Arguments about crime and punishment in the old UK never seem to have got much further than boo/hurray ethics; a failing mostly caused by the political and media soundbite culture.

    But it’s important to remember that police arrest and charge; the CPS prosecutes; juries decide verdicts; and judges sentence.

    If someone gets inappropriately banged up for five years because of a mandatory sentencing policy, then the judges have cause to feel ignored; but it doesn’t mean the conviction is a wrong ‘un.

    I had a lot of faith in the justice system until I was called for jury service [something I took very seriously as my public duty];the Court Service, I am afraid to tell you, is undermined by the most appaling lack of professional standards I have ever encountered. On your tax dollar too…

    Drew Mishmash

  34. I too was recently disillusioned by the justice system. The defence barrister could hardly have been less enthusiastic, to the point of depression. I believe he was thoroughly convinced of his client’s guilt.

    We the jury did not convict, primarily due to a lack of CCTV evidence. Still, we made it out before the rush hour home, a consideration which I know was foremost in the minds of many.

    It couldn’t be murder, because you need to show intent, but one possible way to get a driver on manslaughter would be to lower the speed limit on CNR to 20mph, and put up accident blackspot signs or silhouettes. That way I believe the CPS would only have to show that the driver was reckless as to causing serious injury, if he broke 30 mph.

    It would certainly be in the public interest for them to try this one out, but you’d need a cyclist jury — a real possibility in London.

  35. With regard to the horrific accident which killed a Grandmother and dog, they bailed him to return on such and such a date.

    Do they honestly think he will still be in the country at that time?

    With a name like that he will no doubt have two passports and will leg it thru Heathrow asap.

    No insurance, no licence, no f**k all.

    I will, if he crosses my path do serious damage to his entire life.

  36. On another note, not related. What happened to global warming this weekend? I worked and it was bloody freezing leaving on Monday, and put the heating on on Monday after my return. Global warming is tosh.

  37. Dear Mrs T
    I think your time might be better spent trying to remember how your first name is spelt.

  38. To assume that he won’t turn up to his hearing because he is (probably) black and an immigrant is very dim. However, someone who drives around without insurance or licence is unlikely to fulfill his his bail-related resposibilities.

    On another topic: there is a buzzing sound in my bathroom. I cannot locate is origin. What do YOU think it is? Prize for anyone who correctly identifies it.*

    *As this is a (largely) anonymous website it may be difficult to actually bestow a prize on the winner or winners.

  39. Hi Oliver

    it’s one of the governments new PFI spy security drones watching you have a wee-wee.

    it’s being operated by whitehall favourites capita services; ergo it is 300 miles off course and making victims of the innocent.

    i can let you have a second hand katyuska if you want…


  40. The driver’s name is Jailing (ironic!) Bao, which presumably makes him of Asian origin; doesn’t mean he is an immigrant, however.

    And the buzzing? Perhaps an ‘internal massager’ has fallen behind the bathroom cabinet?

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