Since I moved to London, I’ve been watching the Victorian gothic towers of Sir George Gilbert Scott’s Midland Grand and waiting for the grand re-opening of this ‘castle ontop a station’. Sadly, I didn’t get an invite, but I did get the chance to check it out for drinks (at the Booking Office bar.) The 128-year old building has been empty for some time, saved from demolition after a campaign by my uncle’s favourite poet Sir John Betjeman (who called it “too beautiful and too romantic to survive” in a world of tower blocks and concrete). It has recovered from a stint as offices for British Rail thanks to realator Harry Handelsman, who bought the building in 2005. Renovation cost upwards of £200 million, not surprising really when the wallpaper in one suite alone cost £47,000 to make and £12,000 to fit.
The lobby is spacious and delicately beautiful. I was delighted to see they’d use the same cobalt blue for the metal ceiling buttresses (is that the right word?) as the station. It makes the hotel feel very much part of London, and very much part of the Kings Cross regeneration. The bar was Victorian cosy – a starched white blend of traditional and modern – if a little gloomy. But I must go back for a proper tour, as I failed to see the fairytale glamour of the grand staircase.