I was looking forward to going to the opening night of the revamped Tulse Hill Hotel as a local resident.
One of the reasons was down to the fact that I used to rent one of their rooms for a few months when I was between places and it was £100 a week with a shared shower and toilet.
More often than not, it was carnage downstairs with police and ambulance flashing lights dancing around the walls of my bedroom and a healthy splattering of blood and teeth scattered around the place the next morning.
Surely things had improved?
There had been a lot of local discussion around the fate of the pub since it had closed down in August this year.
Many of the local rumours were centred on yet another supermarket taking over the building due to the fact that it was on the south circular and it was one of their few target sites that had a car park.
When the news came through that Greene King had taken over the venue, many assumed that it might be like the much loved Prince Albert in Brixton with a down to earth atmosphere and reasonable beer prices.
It turned out that it was to be taken over by one of Greene King’s subsidiaries, the Metropolitan Pub Company, which specialises in Gastro Pubs along the same lines as their other local pubs such as the Florence in Herne Hill and the Bishop in East Dulwich.
I arrived with a group of friends at 6pm for their launch time to find a large crowd of inquisitive people waiting outside.
The pub was fairly full by 7pm and all involved were treated to a not too stingy array of free drinks ranging from a mobile Camden Beer van in the car park to some rather nice whiskey which David Beckham had apparently launched last week according to the gentleman dispensing it.
A lot of space had been taken up by the drink tasting areas and the couple of times we went to the bar, the staff were friendly and efficient.
I had a pint of Ship Full of Ale for four quid which is not really pricey compared to the nearest popular pub. A lager was around the same price but an Aspal cider was a rather pricey £4.50.
The real Ales were well kept, though by 8pm more and more pump tags were turned backwards as supplies dried up.
The pub itself boasts a fine beer garden with an outside BBQ set up, only spoiled by the proximity of the south circular traffic noise.
Inside it has been ripped out completely and the bar has been moved leaving a more open space than it’s previous incarnation.
The décor is traditional fair with a nice balance of lighting, some tube station style tiling on the walls and a welcoming warm atmosphere with friendly and efficient staff.
There are rumours than that they are going to show live sports in the front part of the pub but none of the staff were up for confirming that.
I feel that it would be great for the area and will set it apart from the influx of new sterile gastro pubs popping up and give it more of a community feel.
After the well documented horrors of former pub’s toilets, I had to check them out. They may well be going for an award for having the oddest toilet arrangement in south London.
One of the doors at the front of the pub leads you to a male and female porta loo cabin set up which is currently stationed outside the front, though attached to it by way of a small ante room. It has been blinged up with several Christmas trees on the outside.
Long term, I’m not sure what is happening with the toilet situation as there does not appear to be anywhere left in the pub left to sort this possible oversight out. Maybe they are applying for an extension to replace the porta convenience? The staff certainly didn’t know the answer to this conundrum.
Whilst it is no consolation to the people who used to make the pub their home before its demise, it is a whole lot better than it being turned into another Tescos and yet another loss of a local community meeting place.
I will drink there again.
Verdict: It’s a decent pub with loads of potential – and definitely better than another supermarket!
[Review and all photos by David R]