The Great Northern is one of London’s great railway hotels and is an important part of the city’s cultural heritage. As the railways boomed in the 19th century so did the number of travellers visiting the capital. Existing hotels struggled to cope with the expansion and presented an opportunity for the wealthy rail companies to take advantage by building lavish properties.
All the companies got in on the act and built hotels at their London termini. The Grosvenor Hotel, Victoria, The Midland Grand Hotel (now St Pancras Renaissance) and The Great Eastern Hotel (now Andaz Liverpool Street – see CELLOPHANELAND* review here) are all examples that are still going strong.
The very first of these showpieces however was the Great Northern Hotel, opening its doors way back in 1854. At the centre of London’s revolutionary new age of steam guests flocked to stay – this was a glamorous destination and a stylish point of arrival or departure for the city. Recently renovated, it has done much to reignite the glamour of its iconic past. We loved the wrought iron staircases, high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows and expansive curved corridors – all central to the master builder Lewis Cubitt’s classic design.
We stayed in a Couchette room, designed in the style of a railway sleeper compartment, but somewhat more luxurious, and despite the challenging dimensions, the clever use of space means that at no time did we feel in any way cramped. Cream and brown predominates with brightly coloured accents and large mirrors expanding the area. White Lefroy-Brooks bathrooms with flattering lighting and nice toiletries were much more than adequate.
Impressive too were the exceptional efforts made on the little extras which so often can turn a good stay in to a great one. Much appreciated was the well equipped complimentary Pantry on each floor, with home-cooked cakes, traditional sweets, teas, Nespresso coffee, books, newspapers and magazines. Also available are a movie library, audiobooks and bespoke playlists whilst the TV includes channels like Sky Sports. Wifi is free and unlimited as is high speed access, often charged as extra elsewhere.
Downstairs the cocktail bar is atmospheric and buzzy, whilst on the first floor is the wonderful Plum + Spilt Milk. This is the location for our classy waiter-served breakfast – no dodgy buffet here – and a superb evening meal where the restaurant served us some truly inspirational dining.
Overseen by highly acclaimed chef and long-time lieutenant of Gordon Ramsay, Mark Sergeant, the restaurant is strong on updated British classics. It uses fresh, seasonal ingredients and favours small suppliers of free-range and rare-breed produce.
To start you can choose perhaps a delicate salad of marinated beets, figs, Shropshire Blue and walnuts or Orkney scallops with samphire whilst for mains one of their signature steaks, or one of the excellent fish and vegetarian choices.
There are especially tempting desserts with Plum & Spilt Milk pudding naturally a popular choice – poached and spiced sweet plums with toasted cinnamon brioche and milk ice cream.
And did we mention the amazing location just yards from St Pancras and Kings Cross mainline and Underground? This is a fine and reasonably priced hotel and its recognition in, for example Condé Nast Traveller 2014 Hot List, Telegraph’s Top 10 UK Hotels and Tatler’s Top 300 UK Restaurants already cements its reputation as one of London’s best hotels. Highly recommended.
For more information visit Great Northern Hotel
Images by CELLOPHANELAND* and the Great Northern Hotel.
CELLOPHANELAND* were guests of the Great Northern Hotel.