Favourite Front Gardens (4)


St Alfege’s Guesthouse, 16, St Alfege’s Passage SE10

I’ve been a bit of a grumpy old phantom of late so I thought I’d cheer myself up with a favourite front garden. This one’s at St Alfege’s Guesthouse, which still has to be the funkiest place to stay in Greenwich. One day I’ll actually make it inside (so difficult to be a tourist in your own town…) but if the pics on the website and this garden are anything to go by, it must be cool indeed.

What I love about this place is that they ‘officially’ have no garden at all to speak of. The rest of the places in that particular bit of passage open out onto the street, but Number 16 has no intention whatsoever of being without greenery. A little area has been created using the natural street furniture – railings and the lamp post, a collection of giant pots and a tempting-looking bench.

Inside, there’s not an inch of space between the plants – save for another, hidden little bench. Tropical – date palms and banana plants – and classic evergreens, they may be mixed in ‘climate’ but they do keep to a palette – just green – and very cool it is too. It’s ever-so slightly jumbled and bohemian-looking with the odd weed tolerated rather than ripped out, which keeps it from looking prissy, and I enjoy it every time I walk past.

My heart gives a little leap whenever I’m staying somewhere in the world, am searching for my hotel and I see an entrance like this. It’s a sign that I have made the right choice.

In this particular case I can’t tell you whether you have made the ‘right choice’ if you have chosen to stay at St Alfege’s – I have never stayed there myself. But all the signs are that it will be fab – and you can guarantee that if you choose one of the faceless multinational business-hotel alternatives, you will have made the wrong choice.

There is, of course, an opportunity to get a sneaky peek into the Guesthouse on, I believe, Monday, when it will be part of a fly-on-the-wall documentary The Hotel Inspectors. In the meanwhile, enjoy another example of an interesting and quirky Greenwich Front Garden…


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