After the enthusiasm for the destruction of the Euston Station arch in 1961 as part of the “modernisation” of the railways, the magnificent Grade 1 listed George Gilbert-Scott St Pancras Station was likely to be next. The hotel was one of the most exuberant examples of the race between railway companies to vie for supremacy in delivering services to the city. By contrast, Euston [with or without the arch] and the modest Kings Cross station seem restrained by comparison. The hotel [known as the Midland Hotel – it was built by the Midland Railway Company] opened in 1873 and closed in 1935. Between then and redevelopment it was used as railway offices and a £10m grant to repair some of the building in the 1990s probably saved it from demolition. Unthinkable really, but the post-war period saw a huge destruction of large but largely redundant buildings. As we walked past, we saw bits of patching to the brickwork along the Euston Road – sticking plaster really.
However, in 2004 planning was granted for conversion back to hotel and apartments, the timing very fortunate, for if the scheme had been left a little later then the crash of 2008 might have sunk it altogether. Now reopened as the Renaissance St Pancras Hotel, part of the wonderful St Pancras International, it’s a fitting arrival and departure point for journeys both north and south. Yes it’s about the same time from London to Paris as it is to Yorkshire. Together with the stunning refurbishment of King’s Cross, these two stations recreate the wonderful atmosphere of proper travel.
Across the road lies the church of St Pancras, handy for UCL.
Pancras was the orphaned Christian son of a Phrygian nobleman. He was brought up at the Court of the Emperor in Rome. At the age of 14, refusing to betray his Christian faith by offering incense in worship to Dioclesian, he was executed by decapitation on 12th May, 304 A.D. on the Aurelian Way, where a Basilica was later raised in his honour.
We’re sure he was chuffed by the Basilica. The new hotel treads a middle line between the likes of the Firmdale group, and the Premier Inns. Great for a quick stop, handy for leaving luggage and plenty of places to grab some food in the station concourse [Carluccio’s?] without paying for the hotel’s continental breakfast.
It’s history has been well preserved. The grand staircase is still very grand, the main foyer is where the carriages used to pull in and drop off their passengers, and you can visit the Ladies Smoking Room, introduced in 1898, the very first public room in European history in which ladies could smoke in public. Fascinating.
Part of the original building also houses some apartments, developed by the Manhattan Loft Company. All sold off plan.
Hotel Renaissance St Pancras
…and the Manhattan Loft Company’s site for their apartments.