With its impressive spires and fairytale façade, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London is distinctive and unique. We were invited earlier in the year to experience some of its magic for ourselves.
A brief history
The hotel started life as the Midland Grand Hotel, built next to the brand new St Pancras Station. Opening its doors in 1873, it boasted breathtaking painted ceilings, granite pillars, carved stonework and a terrace which overlooked New Road. Dripping with lavish luxury, it featured toilets that flushed – unheard-of in the 1870s, a bell-calling system, and was the first hotel in the world to offer an alternative to the stairs. A pair of ‘hydraulic ascending chambers’ transported guests and their luggage between floors.
However its rivals started to offer better amenities, and the Midland Grand closed its doors in 1935. It withstood World War bombings, plans of destruction and went through various incarnations, but was saved by Sir John Betjeman, who secured its Grade 1 listing in 1967. 2002 saw is fortunes begin to turn, when redevelopment started and luxury entered the Midland Grand again, renamed St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London. Rich reds, fiery golds and striking patterns now once again fill the hotel, and we couldn’t wait to experience all that St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London had to offer.
The lobby makes a great first impression. It’s huge, hosting afternoon teas and business meetings, which creates such a buzz as you enter. Our bags were taken and we marvelled at the high ceilings and beautiful architecture a while, before making our way up to our suite.
St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London has 245 rooms, including 38 Chambers suites and the Chambers Club. Our suite on the Chambers floor overlooked the British Library, and was so peaceful and quiet. With a neutral palette and white marble bathroom, this suite is all about relaxing, so we did just that before heading to the Chambers Club for a spot of afternoon tea.
The Chambers Club
Dan, who looks after the Chambers Club, was so welcoming throughout our stay. It’s the little touches that make a visit so special, and Dan remembered our names and made us feel so welcome. The Chambers Club is a great place to meet up before a wedding. Afternoon tea or cocktails, it’s a lovely space to relax and catch up, and they welcome hotel guests as well as members. We enjoyed a beautiful afternoon tea with scones, tea and champagne alongside excellent service before exploring the hotel a little bit more.
As seen on screen
Even though the original hotel closed its doors in 1935, the building has played host to a number of different occupants. It has featured in Batman, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Harry Potter, and do you remember that staircase in the Spice Girls’ first music video for Wannabe? You guessed it, it’s the very same Grand Staircase that winds through the hotel, elegantly demanding your attention in all its glory. We found that wherever we went, we were constantly looking up – at the architecture, the paintwork or some other beautiful feature.
St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London has a number of different restaurants and bars. The Gilbert Scott, named after the original architect of the building, showcases the finest British seasonal produce in a menu designed by head chef, Marcus Wareing. The Booking Office restaurant serves a delicious modern British menu, with Victorian inspired cocktails in stunning surroundings of the original ticket booths. MI + ME is their urban deli, serving a delicious combo of burgers and milkshakes on their terrace and the Hansom Lounge sits within the lobby, which once providing the cobbled driveway of the original rail station. It hosts afternoon tea as well as dinner and cocktails, providing the perfect place to just sit and relax.
We enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails in the Chambers Club, and then slept soundly in our relaxing surroundings. Breakfast was served in the Chambers Club again, and we then embarked on a tour of this incredible hotel. Guests can sign up for a free tour, but if you just want to go, anyone can join in for £24 per person.
We learned so much from our guide, Chris. The carpet is modelled on the original, the beautiful ceiling is original, the work undertaken to restore the hotel was painstaking, with paint colours matched exactly and each of the 658 fireplaces in the hotel restored perfectly. Within its restoration, they separated private apartments from the hotel, so you can own a little piece of this beautiful Gothic building to live in yourself.
With so much history, a wedding at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London would be spectacular. You can hire the Hansom Hall and Terrace, beautifully light and stylish, for up to 280 guests, or The Gallery with its sparkling chandeliers, for up to 120 for a seated reception.
The Booking Office – the former ticket hall of St Pancras – accommodates up to 250 guests, but my favourite room was the Ladies Smoking Room, with a beautifully intricate ceiling and terrace garden, this was the first room in Europe in which women could smoke publicly. It is restored to its 1873 design, and has gorgeous balcony greenery, making it so private. It can accommodate up to 70 for a banquet, 180 for a drinks reception. Its columns and curtains make this room a truly special space.
After a quick tour of the penthouse, with its pop art picture of the Queen and long dining table, perfect for hosting a fabulous dinner, we made our way back down to our suite before checking out.
We had a wonderful experience at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London, it’s a great location and has been beautifully restored – its history really makes it stand out from the crowd. We loved our stay, with excellent service in gorgeous surroundings. Who could want more?!