There are some London hotels that are lovely. There are some London hotels that are really rather special. And there are some London hotels that simply transport you to a bygone era of refinery seldom seen in this day and age. King's Cross's Great Northern Hotel most certainly falls into the latter of those camps.
Tacked on to King's Cross station, one would be forgiven for thinking that a train station hotel would be a fairly simplistic stopover venue, but you couldn't be more wrong. From the moment you step through its doors you're whisked into a subtle, sultry world of refined luxury, a throwback to the golden age of steam, yet you’re mere seconds from the hustle of one of London's most thriving areas and just 25 metres from the Eurostar terminal.
This exquisitely designed space was first opened in 1854, designed by Victorian master builder Lewis Cubitt but has been lovingly refurbished of the finest luxury boutique hotel spaces in London. With a building so rich in history, it would have been a travesty not to restore it to its former splendour. It’s one of those spaces that makes you want to don a flowing gown and race down the staircase, a la Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face.
The rooms at the Great Northern Hotel
The 91 rooms within the hotel fall into three categories. The Couchette rooms are small but perfectly formed; an homage to the classic continental railway sleeper, featuring a Hypnos double bed within a leather-clad banquette, high ceilings, flooded with natural light and with cleverly designed bespoke bathrooms.
The Wainscot Rooms, located in the hotel’s eaves, feature striking decor with clubby dark American walnut panelling and rich shades of plum; the perfect cosy retreat for a romantic city weekend. Lastly, the Cubitt Rooms, named after the hotel’s master builder, offer views of King’s Cross through tall sash windows, king-size beds and bright bathrooms - eight of which feature a standalone roll top bathtub.
Dining at the Great Northern Hotel
Indulgent food and drink is at the heart of the hotel. Each floor boasts a help-yourself pantry with teas and coffees, cake, fruit and Tunnock’s caramel wafers - the perfect plunder for a midnight snack (or a raid in the morning en-route to work…ahem), though not that you’d need one after supper at Plum + Spilt Milk. A restaurant that’s long been on my radar, this is definitely one dining room that you ought to make a date with. Like stepping into to a classic dining car of the Flying Scotsman, Plum + Spilt Milk’s interior of cosy booths, floor to ceiling windows and gold accents oozes sophistication and charm.
Michelin star-winning chef Mark Sergeant’s menu is based on seasonal British ingredients, including beef from Mey Selections, part of the prestigious North Highland initiative launched by HRH Prince Charles, produced using traditional methods on family farms and crofts.
The menu is a smorgasbord of simple yet creative recipes, featuring sublime dishes such as steamed Wye Valley asparagus with poached Loch Duart salmon and wild garlic mayonnaise or Dressed Portland crab to start, Orkney scallops with roasted cauliflower, samphire and sherry vinegar caramel, grilled Cornish lamb chop and pressed shoulder, served with wild garlic and spring greens and Paddock Farm Tamworth pork belly with braised celery, baby turnips and mustard sauce. Simple, classic, wholesome dishes with standout flavours that have you begging for more. Leave room for pudding though; the signature Plum + Spilt Milk is a classic, but I can heartily recommend the iced peanut and salted caramel mousse, which was truly special.
The bar at the Great Northern Hotel
With a roll top bath and an entertainment package including 96 TV channels and 70 classic and new movie releases, one would be forgiven for retiring after supper for a night in one’s chambers (which, accompanied by a good book, I most certainly did), but night owls may be enticed down to the bar on the ground floor, a buzzing hive of activity with an unrivalled cocktail menu.
Despite being situated smack bang in the centre of one of London’s busiest areas, a night of slumber at the Great Northern Hotel was pleasantly peaceful and uninterrupted. Breakfast was certainly a highlight of our stay; for the health-conscious, the menu includes dishes such as quinoa and pumpkin seed granola with yoghurt, apples and golden raisins. If, like me, you feel that life is too short, there are also treats including smoked haddock kedgeree and brioche eggy bread with bananas, pecans, and salted caramel sauce to tickle your tastebuds. Do it; you won’t regret it.
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