The London List Review: Great Northern HotelThe London List

Posted in Hotels, London, London List
By Sam Bathe on 26 Apr 2014

Reopening last Spring after a £42m, five-year renovation, the Great Northern Hotel couldn’t be any more deserving of the word ‘great’ in its name. A unique and exquisite luxury boutique hotel, the Great Northern Hotel is a calm oasis amid the hustle and bustle of King’s Cross and St. Pancras International stations.

Location

One of the world’s historic railway hotels, the Great Northern Hotel has been an intrinsic part of King’s Cross station since is was built in 1854. Now incorporated into the recent redevelopment of the station, the Great Northern Hotel sits proudly aside the magnificent frontage of King’s Cross, overlooking the new pedestrianised square. Not that you’d know it in the rooms as you can’t hear but a peep from the station and trains below.

The proximity to King’s Cross and St. Pancras International stations makes the Great Northern Hotel the most connected hotel in London. On six Underground lines, Thameslink and National Rail, it’s easy for tourists and business travellers alike to reach all corners of London and the UK, while St. Pancras International connects to Paris and central Europe beyond.

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By foot, guests are just 10 minutes walk from Angel, Euston or Russell Square, and in under half an hour you could walk to Shoreditch, Oxford Street or Camden.

The King’s Cross area has improved a lot over the last 10 years and is in the midst of a regeneration scheme itself. New restaurants and bars are opening regularly in the area, seen as an exciting and safe neighbourhood, both day and night.

Building

Carefully renovating the original architecture, the hotel exterior was also given a new lease of life as part of the £42m makeover. The building is a long, sweeping arc, holding its own alongside the gothic structures of St. Pancras and imposing industrial frontage of King’s Cross.

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The wide and utterly majestic, sweeping hallways span the full length of the hotel building, with a keycard required to enter each floor for safety.

Rooms

We stayed in a Cubitt room, the largest of the three types. With big sash windows on two sides of the room, the space is flooded by natural light and feels perfectly spacious. The colour palette of olive green and cream is confident and elegant as the room oozed class.

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All of the rooms feature bespoke furniture which fits the space perfectly, including a fantastically comfortable king bed at its core. There isn’t acres of space to unpack but a slim built-in cupboard to hang items and shelves for folded clothes will be more than enough for most travellers.

The real test was in our sleep, and we got a fantastic night’s rest.

The two other room types are Wainscot; featuring Black American Walnut Wainscot panelling and a darker palette to create a real sanctuary of sleep away from the bustle of London’s streets, and Couchette; inspired by traditional railway carriage sleepers and with a seating and bedside space built into the end of the bed.

Bathroom

The en-suite in every room features either a luxurious roll-top bath – so deep it feels like you could stand and the water would still come up to your waist – or a walk-in shower – most of which are a ‘party shower’ with two shower heads and heaps of room to share the space with your partner(s). The attention to detail and quality of the fixtures and fitting is marked, and you can really feel the care given to the bathrooms.

Robes are waffles rather than towel and the bathroom products are all from Malin + Goetz.

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Amenities

Although you wouldn’t necessarily expect a pool and spa from a boutique hotel of this size, no gym within the building was a bigger miss. Facilities elsewhere, however, were excellent.

Available in your room and throughout the hotel, ultra-fast 500Mb WiFi is free for all guests plus an in-room entertainment package to rival an international flight. Offering over 70 films to stream on-demand for free and 96 TV channels including Sky (and Sky Sports) and international channels from across the world, if you do stay in, there’s plenty to keep you entertained.

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The real revelation is the pantry on each floor. With newspapers and magazines for guests to take back to their rooms, the hotel’s excellent kitchen delivers a homemade cake every day at 4pm. Add to that, a Nespresso machine that makes remarkably good coffees, this is such a good idea it really should be the hotel norm. There’s a mini Nespresso machine and mini-bar in every room too.

Plum + Spilt Milk restaurant

The Great Northern Hotel’s restaurant, Plum + Spilt Milk is the vision of Michelin-starred chef, Mark Sergeant, and deserves to be heralded as its own successful venture.

Feeling something like the sister to Bob Bob Ricard – our favourite restaurant in London – both the decor, food and drinks give the Soho restaurant a run for its money.

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Offering elegant British dishes with touches of extravagance and creativity, the menu feels homely and up to date. While it is certainly a fine dining experience, little touches like more modern background music, not stuffy jazz, and gorgeous menus and crockery design make all the difference. If you are dining there in the evening we would highly recommend the loin of venison, sharing the honey roasted parsnips and buttered mash on the side.

The dining room itself is spread out, with a long sweeping structure running almost the full length of the room and providing seating for tables on either side. Generous tables with oversized – and fantastically comfortable – seating fill the galleys on either side, with more than ample space between parties.

Guests are invited down for breakfast and it’s a fantastic way to start the day. The coffee and freshly-squeezed juices are both great and we had the refreshing fresh fruit salad and the particularly delicious brioche French toast, with fresh berries and crème fraîche.

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The hotel also offers two bars, a larger bar downstairs also offering a select menu and open to the public, and a more private, smaller bar adjoining the restaurant upstairs. The bars offer a pleasantly small cocktail list – think 10 cocktails over two pages rather than 50 cocktails over five – and the Northern Soul in particular went down very, very easily. We’d recommend a couple of romantic drinks after dinner to really cap off a great evening. You can read our full review of Plum + Spilt Milk here.

Verdict

We really don’t have a bad word to say about the Great Northern Hotel and were really blown away by the attention to detail and quality of the experience. While it would be nice if the hotel offered a gym, it’s really just the smallest of niggles and the ambience and railway-inspired look and feel of the hotel is spot on. The £42m renovation was as thorough as that figure might suggest; they haven’t cut a single corner and it really paid off. We couldn’t have been any more impressed by the rooms, restaurant and more.

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Originally built in 1854 to serve customers of the Great Northern Rail Company, the Great Northern Hotel has the heritage and class to be truly regarded as one of the absolute finest best hotels in London. As a guest, the hotel feels grand but on a personal scale. Like the staff will know you by name but you still have all the wonder and wow factor of something so much bigger.

The fantastic transport connections might mean the Great Northern Hotel is seen as somewhere for one- or two-night business travellers and as a Eurostar stopgap. If I were in London holidaying for a week or more, however, I couldn’t think of anywhere I’d rather stay than here. The hotel is perfect for those who live in London and want a romantic and idyllic getaway from home too.

Ask for a room at the end of the southern wing, with fantastic views over King’s Cross Square and the skyline of central London.

The Great Northern Hotel is magnificent hotel for the luxuriant traveller and a peaceful haven away from bustling London below, it couldn’t come more highly recommended.

For reservations and more, please visit: www.gnhlondon.com
Great Northern Hotel, King’s Cross St. Pancras Station, Pancras Road, London, N1C 4TB

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