Thursday, 15 March 2012

RSVP London Singles Event: Tour of St Pancras Renaissance Hotel

My last visit inside Giles Gilbert Scott's evocative masterpiece was in 2001, whilst its prime use was as an occasional film set for the Spice Girls, Harry Potter, et al. Whilst the famous staircase had been well-preserved, most of the rooms bore the battle scars of St Pancras' then most recent occupation as offices. The ornate high ceilings had suffered unceremonious puncturing to allow the installation of lower office-friendly suspended ceilings. The murky windows looked down on a barely-used and down-at-heel St Pancras station, its seven platforms scarcely taxed by the occasional trail of visitors through its period booking hall on their way to Leicester, Derby or Sheffield.

Our RSVP London Singles Event on 10 March couldn't have been more different. Tour guide and St Pancras historian par excellence Royden Stock guided us through the beautifully restored building, regaling us with tales of its construction and troubled history.

The building today is part St Pancras Renaissance Hotel and part Manhatten Loft Corporation Apartments, with one suite we visited being useable as either a hotel suite or an apartment. The view from the windows is now of the bustling St Pancras International - London terminus of Eurostar and gateway to the Continent.

As a previous visitor - and long-time admirer - of St Pancras, I was relieved at the sensitivity of the restoration. Much of the fabric and quirkiness of the old building has been retained and yet made habitable in the 21st century. Huge amounts have been spent on recreating rare features of the old building - like the wallpaper in one of the suites with genuine gold leaf.

Our London Singles certainly seemed to agree and all were very grateful for Royden's time and knowledge. Why not book your own tour of St Pancras?

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