Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.
Today (August 14, 2019): Review of St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London (UK).
- Location: Google maps
- Hotel website: St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London
Owing its rarity and fairy-tale façade to George Gilbert Scott, St Pancras is an iconic hotel in London, taking pride in its sense of richness, eclecticism and adventure. Originally opened in 1873, the property is one of london’s most recognizable hotels. The pet-friendly hotel rooms and suites combine a sense of elegant history with modern comfort and includes plush bedding, flat-screen TVs, ample desks, and Wi-Fi. Facilities include an underground spa, gym, heated indoor pool and two dining venues. The hotel sits above the St Pancras station, where Eurostar trains arrive and depart.
Have you ever stayed at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- The St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London stands majestically in the heart of London’s busy King’s Cross. In Victorian times, King’s Cross was an important industrial heartland. But by the late 20th Century, the area known as the railway lands had become a shady suburb of disused buildings, railway sidings, warehouses and contaminated land, home to crime, prostitution, and drug dealing. However, following London’s most successful regeneration story, King’s Cross is now one of London’s most exciting neighborhoods offering excellent transport links and a wealth of bars, restaurants, museums and galleries.
- The hotel is adjoined to the St Pancras train station, one of the most spectacular train stations in the world. Train routes from the nearby Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross overground stations (including easy connections to the key London Airports), the Eurostar international high speed rail, and six underground tube lines mean the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London is one of London’s most accessible hotels for both UK and international visitors. The property is very convenient when you have to catch an Eurostar train and even offers a VIP Eurostar valet service when you book a stay in the hotel’s Chambers wing.
- The hotel’s story started in 1865 when Midland Railway ran a competition for the design of a 150-bed hotel with the brief that it needed to add luster to its soon to be completed St Pancras station. The competition was won by Sir George Gilbert Scott, who submitted a grandiose plan inspired by Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) which was under construction at this time Scott. Construction of the Midland Grand Hotel, as it was originally known, was completed in 1876. However, by 1935, the famous creation had become too expensive to heat and maintain, and was closed. In 2011, the property reopened its doors as the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London, following a multi-million pound renovation.
- The hotel’s stunning red-brick facade is considered to be the finest example of Gothic Revival architecture in Britain today. Others see inspiration from John Ruskin’s ‘Stones of Venice’, signifying a polychromatic Italian Gothic style, while some state that the building’s features have been taken from a variety of periods and countries suggesting a different style completely. On the inside, the hotel is also an architectural wonderland, exemplifying High Victorian Gothic design in its most dramatic sense. It showcases glorious Gothic Revival metalwork, gold leaf ceilings, hand-stencilled wall designs, and the legendary grand staircase offering guests the chance to celebrate the glitz and glamour of the Victorian era.
- The hotel’s 245 rooms and suites are located in two wings. The historic wing houses 38 Chambers Suites, which encapsulate lavish Victorian grandeur, reflecting the heritage of the hotel’s past. Some of these suites boast unique station-facing views and overlook the Eurostar platforms. The 207 guestrooms are located in the Barlow House, the hotel’s new contemporary wing. Several room categories are on offer in the Barlow House, including king and twin rooms, along with interconnecting family rooms for larger parties. During my visit, I stayed in a superior king room, which looked out over the streetside and featured a modern but rather uninspiring design.
- The St Pancras Spa, hidden away and built underground into the hotel’s original steam kitchen, provides a quiet escape from London’s hustle and bustle. The Victorian inspired haven is decorated with period features, including the great brick archways of the former steam kitchens, floor to ceiling arched windows and beautifully restored tiling. Boasting six treatment rooms including a couple’s suite, a 24 hour gym, a therapeutic steam room, traditional saunas and a relaxation pool with hydro loungers, every treatment focuses on the rejuvenation of the mind and the body. Inspired by rituals and journeys from around the world including an English Garden through to Africa, the spa aims to restore harmony and wellbeing.
- A destination in itself, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London offers a variety of dining options:
- The hotel’s cathedral-like Booking Office Bar and Restaurant, located in King’s Cross station’s original ticket office, features high vaulted ceilings, red brick walls and old church arches, providing an atmospheric backdrop steeped in Victorian glamour. The menu showcases delicious modern classics, using locally sourced ingredients served up by head chef Adam Ashe.
- The Gilbert Scott restaurant exhibits an exquisite David Collins designed interior that perfectly complements the stunning Victorian Gothic architecture of the iconic building. Occupying the original entrance hall, where the first revolving door in Britain still remains, the restaurant is one of the most desirable dining and bar destinations in the capital.
- London’s rail heritage resonates throughout the Hansom Lounge, where a vaulted roof and Barlow Blue girders blend with traditional architecture and yesteryear’s cobbled floors. Visitors gather here throughout the day and night to relax with friends over casual drinks, enjoy a traditional afternoon tea or host a business luncheon.
- MI+ME, housed on the Upper Terrace of St Pancras, specializes in hand carved deli style sandwiches and meat and cheese; the menu also includes burgers and mac’n’cheese. Working with the next generation of microbreweries and independent suppliers, the beverage selection incorporates craft beers, wine and cocktails bottled on-site by the team.
- In the warmer summer months, the hotel opens a rooftop terrace, where guests can order drinks and finger foods. While the view from the terrace is not very impressive, it’s quite nice nonetheless to have some fresh air and enjoy al fresco moments with friends or colleagues on balmy evenings (although this is London, so always be prepared for some rain).
- The property is a member of Renaissance Hotels, a hospitality brand managed by Marriott which operates more than 170 hotels worldwide. Marriott describes its Renaissance hotels as ‘places for the curious, the adventurous and those who see every journey as a chance to be inspired by the unexpected. Renaissance Hotels are eclectic, yet tied together by a brand design strategy, guest experience and signature services as well as an emphasis on guest entertainment and food and beverage‘. I am not exactly sure whether that accurately describes you get at Renaissance hotel (which are located in the mid-luxury market) but the good news that you can collect or spends points here with Marriott’s loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
St Pancras Renaissance Hotel is a stylish Victorian Gothic hotel with decent facilities (including a spa, rooftop lounge, and two excellent dining venues). Its proximity to the St Pancras station and King’s Cross subway makes it an excellent choice for both business and leisure travelers. That said, there are several issues you need to beware of when considering a stay here:
- The rooms in the contemporary Barlow wing are decidedly average for a 5-star hotel; they are small, feature cheap looking furnishings, and lack the high ceilings and design details of the Chamber suites in the hotel’s historic wing. My advice is to book a Chamber suite – which also include access to the Chambers Club for breakfast, snacks, and more – and not a Barlow room.
- Breakfast is a disappointing experience for a hotel of this caliber, especially for the price charged (full American breakfast is £26 GBP). The breakfast is offered buffet-style on the bar counter of the Booking Office Restaurant, but isn’t very fresh nor very exciting. Rock solid bacon, chewy old hash browns, and shriveled mushrooms is not my idea of a five-star breakfast. The restaurant also offers to-order breakfast but that comes at an extra charge.
- Service at the hotel (check-in, restaurants, room service, etc ..) is sometimes chaotic and unorganized as the property appears to be understaffed.
- Some rooms and suites look out over the inside of St Pancras station, with a direct view of the train platforms. These rooms are not completely sound proof and guests staying here may suffer from noise disturbance from early morning till late night.
- The hotel spa is underwhelming. The setting is gorgeous (in the building’s old kitchen) but it doesn’t feel very luxurious. The pool, although beautifully decorated, is very small. The gym (located inside the spa) is quite poor for a luxury hotel with an odd selection of technogym equipment.
- The hotel does not represent good value for money. To give you an idea, I paid nearly £400 per night for my stay here, excluding breakfast and taxes, and while there was nothing desperately wrong with my stay, it felt just ok which is not good enough for that price tag. Guests are paying for the location and the beautiful building but the facilities and the overall impression are way off that of a luxury hotel.
- Location: 8/10
- Design: 8/10
- Rooms: 6/10
- Food: 8/10
- Breakfast: 6/10
- Pool: 7/10
- Spa: 7/10
- Service: 7/10
- Value for money: 7/10
- Overall experience: good 7/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: book your room with an additional 25% off making use of Marriott’s Best Rate Guarantee. If you find a lower rate for the same hotel, room type and dates within 24 hours of making your reservation, you can submit a Best Rate Guarantee claim form. Marriott will review the claim, and if approved, they’ll match the rate and give you an additional 25% discount on the room or 5,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (your choice).
- Save money: Marriott Bonvoy elite members are treated well here, with – among other benefits – free WiFi, a room upgrade (when available), early check-in or late check-out (when available), and complementary breakfast (for top tier members). Read here my review of Marriott Bonvoy.
- Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London.
- Room tip: as mentioned above, the hotel offers historic rooms in the original Victorian wing (so called Chamber Suites) and contemporary rooms in the new wing (so called Barlow rooms). Rooms vary drastically in character, size, and benefits between the Barlow and Chambers sections. Which room you choose will largely determine your experience: I highly recommend the Chamber Suites (which are exceptionally well done) over the dull and uninspiring Barlow rooms.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit London is spring, when the temperatures are mild and the city’s parks are green and blooming. However, spring – along with summer – is also prime tourist season, and hotel and flight prices reflect the surge. You’re more likely to find airfare and accommodation deals in the fall and winter, though you’ll also encounter chilly temperatures. And no matter when you travel, you should pack an umbrella: “Foggy Londontown” experiences misty days and showers throughout the year.
HOW TO GET THERE
The hotel’s unique location close to the Eurostar, St Pancras, King’s Cross and Euston stations, links it conveniently to destinations across the UK and abroad. London itself can easily be reached by plane, train or car. For those coming by plane, the city is served by six airports:
- Heathrow (LHR) is the primary international airport serving London. Check the Wikipedia page of Heathrow Airport for airlines that offer direct flights to this airport. It’s a 40 minute drive to the hotel.
- Gatwick (LGW) is London’s second busiest airport. Check the Wikipedia page of Gatwick Airport for airlines that offer direct flights to this airport. It’s a one hour drive to the hotel.
- Stansted (STN) is a base for a number of major European low-cost carriers, being the largest base for low-cost airline Ryanair with over 100 destinations served by the airline. Check the Wikipedia page of Stansted Airport for airlines that offer direct flights to this airport.
- Luton (LTN) is the fourth-largest airport serving the London area. Check the Wikipedia page of Luton Airport for airlines that offer direct flights to this airport.
- London City Airport (LCY) is fifth busiest airport in passengers and aircraft movements serving the London area, and primarily caters to business travelers. Check the Wikipedia page of London City Airport for airlines that offer direct flights to this airport.
- London Southend Airport (SEN) is the British capital’s smallest airport. Check the Wikipedia page of London Southend Airport for airlines that offer direct flights to this airport.
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Good Morning Did you stay in the Chambers Wing? If so, what are your impressions of the Chambers Club? We stayed there last summer and had an enjoyable time. We used Marriott points for a Chambers Wing room and a Barlow for daughter and her family. They allowed our daughter, husband and granddaughter to have access to Chambers Club at no charge. Agree with you that breakfast is nothing to write home about. Service in Chambers Club was great! Love your blog – one question, as a practicing physician, how do you find the time to travel so much?
The red-brick building that can be seen from the RoofTop Terrace is the British Library
Our family of 4 is going to London and on the Marriott site it says only 3 can stay in the Junior suites in the Chambers area. Do you think it would be difficult to “sneak” a fourth in? It’s a BIG jump in price to go up to the next larger room. we could bring our own sleeping pad and bedding for the fourth and still come out way ahead over having to pay for a larger room.
I stayed last year (May 2019) as well, we had a Barlow wing room, although clean and bright, it was really a mid range hotel room. All of the staff that we had interaction with-doorman, reception, housekeeping, were extremely helpful and very friendly. Due to our relatively short time in London (2 nights/3days) we didn’t frequent the hotels restaurants, although the Booking Office bar and restaurant were always very very busy, the one morning we looked at having breakfast in the Booking Office but decided price/value was simply not worth it. It is costly to stay there, deals can be found, but to us it was well worth the price for the proximity to the Eurostar trains, which were taking at 0715 one morning, so worth the extra cost.