The area around Kings Cross has changed dramatically over the years. Firstly, and most noticeably, Kings Cross & St Pancreas station have been beautifully renovated. It took a while (and cost £800 million), but it was worth it. While for me loving St Pancreas is probably tied to connotations of taking the Eurostar to Paris, I think this Victorian station is one of the prettiest railway stations in the UK.
Apart from that, here are my reasons to hang out in the Kings Cross area:
1) A drink at the Booking Office Bar
The Pancreas Renaissance Hotel is very much part of the station and used to be the Midland Grand Hotel, but was re-opened in 2011 as part of the Marriott brand. It’s pretty impressive and a drink in their lovely Booking Hall Bar is totally worth it. I like places with history and the bar used to be the ticketing hall for those wanting to travel North by train. The Victorian architecture is stunning, the leather armchairs comfortable and the drinks menu impressive (if a little expensive – and beware – they add a substantial service charge). Book in advance though, especially on the weekend, as it gets busy. Live music and dim lighting adds to the atmosphere and makes it a great pre-dinner place to visit.
NB: If the Booking Hall Bar is fully booked there is also the Booking Hall Platform Bar which overlooks the Eurostar terminal. It’s outside so better for the summer months (there are no heaters in the winter).St Pancras Renaissance London Hotel
The Booking Office London
020 7841 3540
2) Granary Square
Granary Square might be my favourite new square – and it’s just a few minutes’ walk from Kings Cross St Pancreas. Perhaps because I was so surprised by it. Rob took us on a long, fairly grim route to get there, so the contrast once we got there was immense. Granary Square was built where the barges used to unload their goods from Regents Canal and the square is surrounded by historical buildings, mostly old Granary Stores. There are hundreds of tiny fountains, individually lit, and the light displays are stunning, especially at night. The vibe is probably also so cool because the fashion school Central St Martins is situated there, so the square feels very alive. In the summer there are often events, and crowds of people chilling in the sun along the banks of Regents Canal.
3) Dinner at Caravan
Situated in prime position on Granary Square is the delightful Caravan. This restaurant (the original of which is in Exmouth Market) recently opened on Granary Square, and it has not looked back once. I’ve been wanting to go for ages. In an old industrial building, its high ceilings and long busy tables can make it a bit overwhelming on entrance. But the buzzing vibe and friendly efficient staff make it a place I will certainly be returning to. The menu is ‘World Cuisine-esque’ (and constantly changing), with a focus on refreshing and original small plates, and with a good mixture of vegetarian, meat and fish. I loved the rabbit stew and the grilled octopus & chorizo. We felt quite healthy with our choices, until we were recommended the caramel chocolate tart with peanut butter ice cream by our neighbours. They said it was the best pudding they’d ever had. To be fair, it was delicious. But if there were ever a ‘death by chocolate’ pudding, this would be it. The house wine was delicious and our bill was barely more than the drinks we’d had at the St Pancreas Renaissance Hotel. Couldn’t recommend it more and it’s great for big groups. Breakfast & Brunch also available.
Tip: The Grain Store next door is also worth a visit, especially in the summer, as they have a huge terrace on Granary Square. Similar to the laid back vibe of Caravan, though meat & fish is served, here vegetables take the starring role. The menu looks really healthy (lots of wholemeal ingredients), in a good, inventive way. On my ‘to do’ list.
1 Granary Square (off Goods Way)
London N1C 4AA
Tel: 020 7101 7661