Hands up those who remember what a dump Kings Cross used to be? Well it certainly seems like a distant memory after the regeneration of the area, spurred on by the now swanky St. Pancras International station.
Now you are more likely to find guys in suits swigging a fine wine of an eve than the, shall we say, more shady characters that used to frequent the area.
One of the most notable signs of the turn around was the restoration of the impressive Renaissance Hotel, which wraps itself around the new station.
Originally opened as the Midland Grand Hotel in 1873, it was reopened in 2011 after years of hard graft (not to mention cash) went into restoring the gothic Grade 1 listed building to the imposing hotel it is now.
When you think of luxury hotels – sleeping inside a train station probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind, but the Renaissance laughs in the face of you judgement.
Part of the Marriott chain, the hotel features 244 rooms and suites, a big gasto pub restaurant, a gym, pool, spa and gentleman's barbers.
We stayed in a Junior Suite in the Chambers which looks into the train station. The imposing floor to ceiling windows overlook the station itself and you can watch the hustle and bustle from your ivory tower. Look at all those folks down there commuting, ha, someone pass us another glass of wine and a white fluffy robe.
Despite the proximity to the tracks, you don't hear the station and even if not a big train spotter in nature – it becomes strangely addictive watching.
Our room was as tall as it was wide, with a huge bed, internal bathroom suite and desk. The suites are luxurious and the bonus being they come with all the perks of Chambers living, which includes access to the private Chambers club - a huge comfy lounge complete with wifi, newspapers, a buffet of snacks at all times and hot, soft and alcoholic drinks on tap. Race you to the gin.
Staying in the Chambers also entitles you to butler service, a wet shave at Gentleman's Tonic and someone will even come and pour you a bath before bed. Lovely.
We headed to the Booking Office, a lively gastro pub set in another impressively scaled building within the building. Situated half in the hotel – half in the station, it is packed with after workers, passengers and hotel guests.
After all the wine in the Chambers and few Absinthe cocktails at the bar (brutal if catching an early morning Eurostar – you have been warned), some hearty pub classics were in order – burgers, fish and chips and plates of charcuterie, which were all good fare.
Of course the main advantage of staying so close to the train is the ease of travelling on the Eurostar.
If you stay in the Chambers, a VIP Eurostar transfer is included, meaning you can eat your breakfast in the lounge while the porters collect your bags and then escort you through customs and on to the train with fast track entry. This must be how Beyonce travels.
Bedrooms in Barlow House start from £250 per night, and the Chambers from £450 per night.
020 7841 3540, marriott.co.uk
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