The London Story
When we took over this historic house, it was clear to us that the interior design had to be something special. Something genuine. No chipboard with veneer, no fake vintage. We wanted wood. Real wood. Ideally oak. Old oak. A material that has personality and history. Like the house itself.
This decision certainly didn’t make life easy for our carpenters. But we are all more than happy with the result and, even more importantly in England, we’ve all gained a few anecdotes along the way. Did you know that there are actually people whose job it is to look for wood? Old wood. You can’t just get old oak out of the forest. This material can only be obtained second hand, and the more you need, the more difficult it is to find. For the interior design of our reception, the lobby, the breakfast area, the guest kitchen, the chill out areas in the basement and the bar we needed a huge amount of this material. Our wood scout found it for us.
Today, if you sit at the bar of wombat’s CITY HOSTEL London, you’ll be setting your ale down on wood that’s over 500 years old. Wood previously found in ships and churches. A wonderful bit of bridge-building to the history of the house. After all, the house was opened in 1863, burnt down a year later and opened again as a hostel for seamen in 1965. It served as a hostel for the thousands of sailors in the British Merchant Navy who berthed with their ships in the docks and sought a place to stay.
The neighbouring St Peter’s Church also had a link to hostel, as the priests used to help out as receptionists and bouncers. When we looked up the history of that place, we found several mentions of a Father John. A scottish priest who was famous for kicking out misbehaving guests. Literally. Apparently he kicked them so hard, the would smash against the building on the other side of Dock Street.
Today the church is a day care centre, luxury apartments have been built on the former docks and guests at the hostel eat, drink and relax on wood that once travelled the ocean as a ship. The hostel is still a hostel after 150 years, but we don’t get too many sailors checking in with us these days.