The ‘£500 bed under the stairs’ in Clapham doesn’t exist

We went there and found nothing


Alex Lomax, a graduate from Nottingham Trent, viewed a flat in Sisters Avenue, Clapham this week. She was shown a room that had been advertised for £500 a month and was stunned when faced with no more than a mattress on the floor in a cloakroom under the stairs.

A venture to find the real-life Privet Drive, merely turned out to be a wild-goose-chase. Disappointingly, it seems the magical bedroom under the stairs only exists in a 23-year-old’s imagination.

The room under the stairs. Credit: Alex Lomax

The room under the stairs. Credit: Alex Lomax

After posting the picture online, she caused a storm on Twitter, with national newspapers like The Times and The Daily Mail contacting her and walking through Sisters Avenue with us as well.

Several attempts at contacting the seller and Alex herself brought no results.

Alex, the 23-year-old journalism graduate, is said to work for Redbrick PR in Nottingham. When we called them, they told us she no longer worked there having left in August. As far as they were aware, she “was moving to London to look for a job”.

First glimpse of Sisters Avenue

First glimpse of Sisters Avenue

Had Alex made this up, or was it a PR stunt she herself had fallen for? Aaron Maughan from Manifest PR in London said: “We were all shocked when we read the original headline, but on closer inspection it looks like this could be a hoax/brand stunt.

“Nevertheless if we can believe, even for a moment, that a landlord in London could charge £500, plus bills, for a mattress under the stairs then it’s highlighted a problem with the London property market.

“We’ll probably find out the reason behind the stunt in the coming days but for now it’s a chance to take stock on the escalating costs of living in London.”

So we went in search of the elusive single room, starting with a short ride down the northern line down to Clapham, home of Sisters Avenue.

Upon arriving at Clapham, we were met with a beautiful park, optimistic that the grass would be greener on the other side at Sister’s avenue. A kind of place where rugby lads from Russell Group Uni’s call home after graduating, where Kebab shops sit next to your local Waitrose.

With Aussie Hannah!

With Aussie Hannah

In the day it’s an odd place, but you expect it to come alive at night, when the young professionals would stagger to Infernos. After a 20 minute walk through Clapham Common, we made it to Sisters Avenue to begin our attempt to find the sensational £500 closet bedroom advertised on London2let.com.

We first met with Hannah Carpin, a nanny who had recently moved to Clapham from Australia. After speaking to her boss about the room, they both believed it to be true. She led us to Thirsk Lane before shopping for groceries.

At first, things appeared promising, but like the prostitutes that used to solicit back when these houses were brothels several decades ago, Hannah’s speculation didn’t live up to our expectations.

The brothels

Several houses used to act as brothels

Sisters Avenue appeared to have a odd mixture of rich middle aged professionals, large families, freshers, and college students getting high at the front of their house.

After knocking on one flashy block on flats, we were greeted with Natasha and her partner, both doctors. They seemed stunned when informed about the elusive bedroom under the stairs.

Natasha told The Tab: “You couldn’t get much for £500 in this area anyway” after assuring us it wasn’t in their flat. But they pointed us to another part of the neighbourhood where they believed it to be.

One of possible locations

One of possible locations

We spoke to a middle-aged woman named Sally. When questioned about the bedroom, Sally suspiciously raced to her door suggesting “you wouldn’t admit to it if it were true”. She wouldn’t be photographed and disappeared soon after.

Jade Yung was a young professional that also lived on the street with her partner. Neither of them had heard about the hoax, but did find the whole situation to be hilarious.

On the hunt

On the hunt

The next people we came into contact with where two young college kids, smoking in front of a housing association. They found the whole situation hilarious, but they were not much help in directing us to other possible locations.

One of the lovely people we met

Nina, a college student, had no idea if it was real

The idea of find the room fit only for an ironing board and empty suitcases being used as a bedroom had gripped the country. Two grumpy employees of the National Press had been on the scene since 11am that morning. They gave us the cold shoulder and proved very little help, telling us later they;d received complaints of two young journalists, fitting our description, bothering residents. Even with a story as silly as this, it was cut throat.

As it hit 6pm, it was painfully obvious that it didn’t exist. After knocking on countless doors, the entire neighbourhood, if not aware of the situation pointed us in the opposite direction of where it might be.

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Goodbye Clapham

Our day soon came to a close, so we went for our final attempt. A sweet, talkative woman actually let her into her block of flats to see that the layout couldn’t actually fit, and sadly offered us no glimpse of success.

After approaching a ridiculous amount of people coming home and in their post work grump, it was clear the entire thing was made up and the residents of Sisters Avenue were fed up hearing about it.

Either that, or the tenants advertising the mattress under the stairs are too embarrassed to admit it. It was probably Sally.