King William IV ‘Hotel’

Traflagar Road, SE10

After that little flurry about the dodgy leaflets through the door a couple of weeks ago for ‘sales’ of sundry bargain electrical goods, for one night only, no questions answered (which, BTW, has prompted an investigation from Trading Standards) I find myself turning to its host venue – the lovely-from-the outside King William IV Hotel.

Benedict sent me some pics ages ago, which I’ve dug out to show you what I mean. This place is lovely (refurbished 2003) if you can see past the teenage drunks hanging around outside and don’t peer too closely in the upstairs windows at the rows of bunk beds that form the ‘hotel’ part of the title.

If you actually look up, rather than just seeing the sagging posters in the ground floor window, there are fancy mouldings, carvings, fruit and flowers, faces – even the brick’s been tarted up. There’s a curious oval moulding on the side – I assume it was once a brewery sign. The mouldings have been painted – which I rather like. Inside it’s spacious, and decorated in Victorian style – striped wallpaper, giant mirrors, a fab wooden bar and yucca trees. If you just peered through the glass you’d think you’d found some gastro pub in Hamsptead. Which is exactly what Benedict did.

“It was the first pub I went into in Greenwich years ago and very nearly put me off moving here,” he admits.

Ay, there’s the rub. It’s just not that nice. Ok – it’s not The Old Friends which really was rancid (and still has strange lights glowing from behind the metal grilles and from the broken windows upstairs – there’s life in there, folks…) – or even that nasty Wetherspoons at the DLR which seems to have blokes in the middle of a fight whenever I go past (I recently chose to walk home rather than wait for a bus in a giant pool of blood – ick ) but it’s a hell of a lot rougher than it looks.

I guess it’s what it is. A cheap hostel with added beer, pool and telly, which, since it has no pavement outside to speak of (hardly its fault, I’ll agree) means walking the Gauntlet of Doom past scary drunk people if you have to go past late at night. It’s hardly a destination venue.

Poor Old William IV. Not only is he the king that just gets forgotten in between George IV and Victoria (he’s known as ‘the sailor-king;’ I confess I tend to call him ‘the boring one,’ even though he had a mighty colourful not-so-private life, about which I will talk another day) but he even tends to get short-changed when he is remembered.

In Greenwich we have a second-hand statue in a very suspect pose and a dodgy pub as souvenirs of Sailor Billy. Still, as Benedict points out, where else can you get a night’s sleep for seventeen quid?*

I’m not conviced this splendid fellow supporting one of the pub’s ornate exterior columns is actually respresentative of King Billy, but he does have a fantastic moustache.

*Try St Christopher’s Inn at the Station. Unexciting, but only £15…

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