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Phil Hopkins
Arts & Travel Editor
@philhopkinsuk
7:00 AM 23rd October 2021
travel

The Great Northern Hotel – The Heartbeat Of King’s Cross

It is somewhat ironic that one of the country’s most historic hotels, The Great Northern, is located just to the side of King’s Cross station in London, perhaps to serve as a daily reminder that there is still life north of Watford Gap!

Since reopening its doors in summer, this one-off Tribute Portfolio Hotel not only boasts new menus but oozes the class and charm of a bygone era thanks to a sympathetic re-fit in 2013, that was key to retaining the property’s timeless townhouse elegance.

Originally designed in 1854 by Lewis Cubitt - as was King’s Cross station - and paying homage to the romance of the railways, The Great Northern Hotel features beautiful artwork throughout, and still remains one of the world’s first great railway hotels: a genuine product from the revolutionary age of steam

The Rooms
Elegantly and thoughtfully designed to fit the compact space which each one occupies, all 88 traditional but elegant rooms feature Hypnos beds, spacious bathrooms and wood panelling with shutter style windows that are guaranteed to keep the light out for late sleepers!

The Pantry
On each floor there is a 24-hour Pantry with Nespresso machines, cakes and pastries, for guests to use throughout their stay. All very nice, however, the machines were not working on three of the floors and the fruit bowls were in some need of ‘fresh’ fruit! However, once brought to the hotel’s attention everything was attended to quickly.

Eat
Dine in the hotel’s popular restaurant, Plum + Spilt Milk, so named after the maroon and cream dining livery of the Flying Scotsman and the first Great Northern train line.

The hotel’s Head Chef Chris Fordham-Smith has developed a seasonal menu that concentrates on locally sourced ingredients from small scale suppliers, whilst remaining true to its focus on modern British cuisine.
The restaurant occupies a stunning room with floor to ceiling large windows on three sides, affording breath-taking views of George Gilbert Scott’s iconic clock tower at neighbouring St Pancras and the new piazza.

Drink
Head to the hotel’s alfresco terrace, GNH Bar, for an evening cocktail – the ideal place to watch the world go by.

Explore
Combining the clean lines of the station’s contemporary architecture, post-industrial chic and the Victorian splendour of its Grade II listed status, The Great Northern is set among the hustle and bustle of Upper Street, boasting an array of shops, bars and restaurants.

The newly renovated area of Coal Drops Yard is just a short walk away, where shoppers and foodies alike can enjoy a dynamic experience by exploring the range of boutique stores, eateries and services on offer.

Final Thoughts
For Northerners keen for a weekend staycation this is a hugely convenient – and classy – hotel.

The service was excellent throughout our stay and, after checkout, there was the offer of a free no quibbles luggage store which meant we could enjoy the day and then, at 6pm, collect our bags ahead of the 100 yard march to King’s Cross departures!


Further information:
Rooms at The Great Northern Hotel start from £244 per night on a B&B basis. For further information or to book, please visit www.gnhlondon.com

ROUND & ABOUT
Vinoteca
If you enjoy a glass of the old vino then look no further than this smart venue which is just to the side of King’s Cross Station and even closer to The Great Northern Hotel. It has an impressive wine menu – the slight clue is in the name! – however, it also serves tasty food in a laid back setting that is vibrant with plenty of hustle and bustle.
Vinoteca owners Brett & Charlie continue their quest to source an ever-changing range of exciting and extraordinary wines and, via their Vinoteca Wine Club, invite visitors to embark on a voyage of international wine discovery.

However, if you are not a wine drinker, do not be put off. There’s plenty of choice, some great food and it is the perfect venue for those either staying in King’s Cross or, perhaps, waiting for a train home but in need of a bite to eat before they depart.

Pancras Square
3 King's Blvd
London N1C 4BU
Tel: 020 3793 7210
www.vinoteca.co.uk


Smith’s Bar & Grill
This eatery is in part of London that I knew little of, however, what a joy! Take the Bakerloo underground line to Warwick Avenue or Paddington station (the former gives you a scenic walk although the latter is marginally closer) and you will find yourself in Little Venice at the junction of the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal, the Regent’s Canal and the entrance to Paddington Basin.
An area that has been substantially upgraded, it is now home to a number of eateries, none more so than Smith’s Bar and Grill restaurant, a modern British inspired, spacious eatery that boasts not only well-priced, tasty good, but a beautiful daylight-filled venue with a gorgeous year-round terrace overlooking the life-affirming Grand Union Canal.
Located a stone's throw from bustling Paddington Station, Smith's provides the perfect post-work or pre/post-travel haven where you can enjoy an exquisite selection of food & drink while relaxing in comfortable surroundings.

It serves a delicious array of dishes daily with the menu showcasing a diverse range of enticing meals from steaks to fresh seafood, salads & sides. Open for breakfast, lunch & dinner.

25 Sheldon Square
London
W2 6EY
Tel: 020 7286 9458
www.smithsbarandgrill.co.uk


London Canal Museum
This little gem is a 10-minute walk from King’s Cross Station and is fascinating and fab for a fiver!

You can see inside a narrowboat cabin, learn about the history of London’s canals and the key role they played in building ice cream maker, Carlo Gatti’s, ice trade business in the capital.
London's canals have a fascinating past and visitors learn not only how they came to be built, but about the lives of the workers, the cargoes, and horses who plied their trade within their bounds. It is the only London museum of its type in the capital and is suitable for adults and children

12/13 New Wharf Rd
London
N1 9RT
Tel: 020 7713 0836
www.canalmuseum.org.uk