There aren’t many more instantly recognisable – or romantic – buildings in London than Sir George Gilbert Scott’s Midland Grand hotel. So when after years of gradual decline (and even occasional threats of demolition), it reopened in 2011 as the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel it was like something really important had been returned to the city. To put a fashion analogy on it, it was like the rebirth of Burberry under Christopher Bailey.
But after the (construction) dust has settled on the £150m renovation, what’s it actually like? Grand, in a word. So pretty much as you’d expect from its wonderful Victorian Gothic Revival facade. You enter into a lobby that used to be the station’s forecourt, after which it’s a whirl through one cavernously high-ceilinged space after another, past elaborate stonework and along decoratively tiled, extra-wide corridors (allowing for bustled Victorian ladies to pass one another without any embarrassing impasses). The Grand Staircase is a particular highlight, soaring skywards and decorated with rich, red walls embellished with hand-painted swirls of gold. It’s all very Hogwarts, in other words. And all very, very lovely.
Rooms are divided between 38 suites in the original building and a new extension. The former are much the more attractive option, as after the high drama of the public areas, the latter can be something of an anti-climax. All are very spacious, comfortable and (just about) luxurious enough to justify the rates with plenty of gadgetry (including a butler's button) and REN toiletries in the marble bathrooms.
But lovely though some of the rooms are, with their high ceilings, church-like windows and views out over the platforms, you don’t stay at a hotel like the St Pancras to shut yourself in. One grand descent later, and you can be installed in the Booking Office bar sipping a well mixed cocktail and admiring the views, or sitting down to some serious British food in the Gilbert Scott restaurant under fabulously ornate ceilings and glittering bell chandeliers. A special experience.
- The building - there simply aren't many other city hotels anywhere in the world quite like it
- Settling in with a glass of fizz at the Booking Office bar
- Looking out onto the Eurostar terminal – a real reminder of the Golden Age of travel
- The spa – especially checking your other half into the gentleman’s grooming salon
- Some of the rooms have an ever-so-slightly corporate feel to them
Need to Know: St Pancras Renaissance Hotel
Number of rooms: 245
Check-in/check-out times: 4pm and 12noon
Room service: Yes
Swimming pool: Yes
Spa: The spa is wonderfully decadent-feeling with a Moroccan-style dipping pool, Jacuzzi and steam room to go with a handful of treatment rooms.
Dogs welcome: Yes. As long as they’re small
Eating and drinking: The Booking Office (housed within the original ticket office) is the more relaxed of the two dining options, while the Gilbert Scott sees Marcus Wareing pick up where he left off at The Berkeley, with another top-class restaurant headed up by Julien Maisonneuve. The afternoon tea is also one of the best around at the moment.
Near to? King’s Cross and the Euston Road may not in itself be the most scenic part of the city for a hotel as lovely as the St Pancras, but it’s pretty much as central as you can get. Best of all, it looks out over the Eurostar terminal, so Paris is also essentially ‘on the doorstep’.
Getting there: Couldn’t be easier. King’s Cross tube is a minutes’ walk from the entrance, while St Pancras International station is right outside the Booking Office bar should you need to make a quick getaway to the continent.