The Great Northern: An Adorable, Historic Hotel in the Heart of London
Great Northern Hotel
Located smack dab in between St. Pancras and King’s Cross stations, the Great Northern Hotel was lauded as “the world’s first great railway hotel” when it opened in 1854. The handsome and stately building, now a Tribute Portfolio hotel, has been updated and modernized; it is seamlessly integrated into King’s Cross’ new glass atrium while retaining its own distinct personality and classic style. We had the opportunity to spend an evening there at the invitation of the hotel while on a recent trip to London, and would gladly stay there again.
The hotel’s exterior has been lovingly restored, and its main entrance is located facing St. Pancras, but it can also be accessed through the hotel’s GNH Bar via King’s Cross’ atrium. The public spaces are quaint and charming, with a small lobby and a warren of bars and restaurants to discover. The GNH Bar is the hotel’s main bar — sleek and inviting with a wide variety of surprisingly well-made and creative cocktails. The Snug Bar is much smaller and slightly more refined with art hanging from the dark blue walls and parquet floors. The even smaller Mezzanine Bar is adorned with vintage black and white nudes.
Great Northern Hotel
The main restaurant, Plum & Spilt Milk (named after the color scheme of vintage trains) is a smartly designed and spacious room with comfortable booths and ample windows to let in natural light and provide for a great view of St. Pancras. The menu is full of updated British classics sourced as locally as possible, including Dartmouth crab cakes with pink grapefruit and coriander; Mey Selections’ Prime Beef; Orkney scallops with roasted cauliflower and samphire; slow-roasted Lake District lamb belly with cocoa beans and tomato; and beef Wellington for two. We enjoyed a pleasant breakfast there; my full English breakfast was spot on and made with fresh and high-quality ingredients. Even on a weekday morning it was full; it’s clearly an ideal central spot for a breakfast meeting.
The overall aesthetic in the hallways is very British with shades of light gray and cream. The décor is subtle, but overall it gives a vibe of being simply adorable. A pantry on each floor is well-stocked with tea, pound cake, and Tunnock’s tea cakes (a very generous touch). The rooms are available in three different styles: Couchette, with a double bed built into a leather banquette and a brown and cream color scheme; Wainscott, top-floor rooms with wood paneling and plum-colored ceilings; and the larger Cubitt rooms (above), with a small couch, "six-over-six" sash windows, queen-sized bed, and olive green walls. The bathrooms have modern and high-end fixtures, and even though the rooms tend toward the small side, they’re comfortable and smartly designed. And thanks to double-paned windows, you can hear very little of the hustle and bustle below.
Quaint and charming while also grand and magnificent, the Great Northern is an ideal hotel for a solo traveler or couple. The restaurant and bars are top notch, the rooms are cozy and comfortable, the location is ideal, and the service is thoughtful and friendly. If you’re passing through London (and especially if you’re taking the Eurostar into St. Pancras), you’ll certainly enjoy your stay here.
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