CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Hampstead guesthouse to close after nearly 40 years

'One guest has travelled from Vancouver every autumn for 26 years'

23 October, 2017 — By Helen Chapman

Annamarie van der Meer outside Hampstead Village Guesthouse

A HOTEL in a Hampstead back street is closing after nearly 40 years during which it has hosted musicians, mushroom-pickers and refugees.

Annamarie van der Meer, 74, told the New Journal that running the Hampstead Village Guesthouse was becoming too much for her to run alone. The Kemplay Road building is set to be converted into a family-sized home, its original use. More than half of the guesthouse’s reviews on the TripAdvisor hotel review site have rated it as “excellent”.

“The house is detached and spacious, making it a great place for musicians to practise,” said Ms van der Meer. “We had the award-winning pianist Sandra Carlock staying here once. We had a dog at the time who placed his paws over his ears when Sandra would practise her music. She was insulted by that.”

Other musical guests over the years have included Ben Hudson, better known as Mr Hudson, the Amsterdam Concert Ensemble and the Hanover Band. More recently, Ms van der Meer said the hotel, which is a stone’s throw from Hampstead Heath, was used by regular customers returning each year. “One guest has travelled from Vancouver to London every autumn for 26 years,” she said. “She comes to pick mushrooms all over London. She will be 90 next year and doesn’t know where she will stay on her next trip to London.”

The hotel has also been a place of refuge. Refugees from Kosovo lived in the Hampstead Guesthouse for almost a year while, more recently, a mother and daughter from the Chalcots estate stayed at the guesthouse after the evacuations amid Camden Council’s fire safety crisis.

Ms van der Meer said the house “organically grew into a guesthouse”, adding: “It started off as a place where my friends and family from Holland and America would stay on their visits to London. Then children of neighbours and friends would come to stay for six weeks at a time on short courses or language courses as a chance to be independent in the big city. This is when I began to charge.”

She added: “Some guests would turn up expecting the Hilton, and be surprised to find otherwise. Now, it is too much work to run by myself and is not financially viable anymore. I hope to sell the house on to someone who respects the property for what it is – a family home.”

Planning documents filed at the Town Hall confirmed that the property was a family home before the guesthouse opened in 1978.

“In recent years the extent of the guesthouse use of the property has diminished to almost nil,” said an application for the conversion filed by Ms van der Meer’s agents. “These days one or two rooms are still let on a very occasional basis. The change of use back to a residential use will be more compatible with the use of surrounding properties, which are all in residential use.”

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