After a £200m renovation project, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel has become a spectacular place to stay – and visit – for anyone looking to make the most out of London. Business Destinations visits the hotel to explore its Victorian architecture, stunning facilities and famous grand staircase.
Business Destinations: It’s nearly a century on from the Midland Grand Hotel – arguably London’s most iconic building of the Victorian era – flourished; half a century since it was slated for demolition, and three years since an 11 year and £200m renovation project brought the luxury – now named St Pancras Renaissance Hotel – back to its former glory.
Now the hotel is once again open for business, overlooking the Eurostar – London’s Gateway to Paris. It’s the perfect destination for modern business travellers, while still offering the old world charm of England’s capital city.
Matthew Rowlette: The hotel opened in 1873. It obviously went through a period where it was the flagship hotel of London. It was built as a positioning piece for the railway company to announce to the greater London and UK audience: here we are, look at how great we are.
It’s the perfect destination for modern business travellers, while still offering the old world charm of England’s capital
Business Destinations: It’s not hard to imagine the hotel’s heritage. The lobby retains the grand basilican vision of architect and designer Gilbert Scott. Once a road for handsome cabs to drop travellers outside the station’s bustling ticket office, today it’s the hotel’s reception, and a venue for a very decadent afternoon tea.
The highlight of staying at any hotel for the business traveller would probably have to be the cuisine – and The Gilbert Scott bar and restaurant where I am now certainly doesn’t disappoint.
It offers à la carte English dining with a twist from the team of restaurateur Marcus Wareing.
Business Destinations: What do you think makes the Gilbert Scott restaurant different?
Chantelle Nicholson: The setting itself is quite unique. Very British. A big sense of history in the building, which we try to slightly emulate in the menu as well: taking British classics, putting a modern twist on them, and also using the best of British produce that’s in season at the current time.
Business Destinations: For something even more unusual there’s also the Booking Office, housed inside the original ticket office. A great place to grab a bite before you travel, or a quirky venue for an informal meeting.
Ed White: The Booking Office is a bar and restaurant, situated in the old ticket hall. Today it gives people a trip down memory lane – a slice of Victoriana. It engulfs the culture of that era. So today you’ve got Victorian punches, you’ve got fabulous champagnes. We’ve even got our own St Pancras beer, which is brewed in partnership with a brewery up in the Midlands. It welcomes travellers from across the world, and it really gives them a flavour for London and what we have to offer at St Pancras.
Business Destinations: St Pancras Renaissance effuses luxury and glamour. One of the hotel’s event spaces – the Ladies’ Smoking Room – was the first room in Europe where women could smoke publicly. And the extravagantly wide corridors were originally designed so that bustled Victorian ladies could pass one another without any embarrassing collisions. Now, although hosting 21st century events, it still maintains an a-list status.
Matthew Rowlette: We have a variety of events hosted here in the hotel. Obviously of course weddings, private boardroom meetings, all day seminars. Some of the more exciting things are fashion events; so we had a William Vintage dinner here on the eve of the Baftas, and equally for London Fashion Week, which was exciting. So we had a list of who’s who that were attending there, but equally we are a bit of a celebrity haunt.
Business Destinations: Perhaps the pièce de résistance of the hotel is the grand staircase – as the set of certain scenes in Downton Abbey and Harry Potter films; and of course the backdrop to the Spice Girls Wannabe music video – it will certainly take the mundane out of any business trip, and perhaps even transport you to a bygone era.
Matthew Rowlette: We’ve stayed obviously very true to what would have been here back when the hotel first opened in the 1870s. So a lot of the colours for example would have been Victorian colours, equally listed with English Heritage. You look up, and obviously here we are in the grand staircase. You look up, the colours of the ceiling and some of the work that’s been done, the fleur de lys along the walls, very much to create a resemblance to what the hotel would have been back in its pre-opening days and during the height of prosperity as well.
It offers à la carte English dining with a twist from the team of restaurateur Marcus Wareing
Business Destinations: There are more than 200 rooms in the hotel, ranging from £295 a night in the newly built Barlow House extension, to up to £7,500 for the Royal suite.
This is the one of the rooms in the old part of the hotel. And as you can see it has a really dramatic view of St Pancras station below, proving it really is the end of the line when it comes to luxury rail transport. But despite the room’s historic feel, it has all the modern amenities the business traveller has come to expect, from coffee making facilities, minibar, tv, and of course most importantly wifi!
A night in one of the originally restored Chambers suites comes with some unique services: including a Eurostar VIP valet service, a complimentary wet shave, a bath butler to draw you a relaxing scented bath of your choice, and admission to the exclusive Chambers Club.
Matthew Rowlette: The Chambers Club is a very unique aspect of the hotel. It’s obviously in the original Chambers part of the hotel. It’s a private club which is effectively set up for guests who are staying in this part of the hotel. So for the business traveller it’s great for pop-up meetings. There’s tailored services there, whether it be for drinks or for afternoon refreshments. It’s very private and exclusive to guests of this part of the hotel, and members of the club itself.
Business Destinations: And when it comes to overall relaxation, the hotel’s elegantly appointed spa is just the place: with its Victorian tiled relaxation pool, sauna, steam room, and extensive range of available treatments. There’s also the well-equipped gym for travellers who want to get energised, and the Gentlemen’s Tonic Express just next door – an exclusively male refuge for businessmen seeking a shave and a haircut.
St Pancras Renaissance Hotel has always been part of the furniture of London, and its future looks just as promising. Situated on the busy Euston Road, it’s in the heart of King’s Cross, which in itself is seeing a business revival. Fifty new buildings are being constructed, and a new tech cluster is forming: Google and Facebook are just two big names moving into the area.
In the centre of London’s latest investment hub, and the most connected hotel to the continent, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel is the perfect coupling of business convenience and romantic splendour.