New �150million St Pancras Hotel is a very grand affair
If you happen to have a spare ten grand lying around you could do a lot worse than spend a night in the royal suite at the newly opened 245-room Renaissance St Pancras Hotel.
If that price sends shivers down your spine, try the other end of the scale where rooms come in at a more modest �300 per night. Not exactly a snip, but hardly surprising for one of the most talked about hotels in the world.
On May 5, with much pomp and ceremony, the Renaissance St Pancras flung open its doors to an enthusiastic public, 138 years to the day after the first guests booked into The Midland Grand Hotel, as the building was then known.
Owners Manhattan Loft Corporation spent �150 million refurbishing the Grade-II listed gothic behemoth, and care has been taken not to ruin many of its stand-out features. The old booking office has been turned into a bar and restaurant, and the grand staircase, perhaps best known for the Spice Girls hopping up and down it in the video for their debut single, has been restored.
Other notable features include the The Gilbert Scott restaurant, run by one of Britain’s most celebrated chefs, Marcus Wareing, and named after the original architect of the building, and the refurbished ladies smoking room, the first place in Europe where women could smoke in public.
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Harry Handelsman, owner of Manhattan Loft Corporation, said: “I am delighted that after more than 10 years of meticulous hard work we have now restored the former Midland Grand Hotel to its former glory. Since the unveiling of St Pancras International in 2007 the station has been given a much-deserved new lease of life and the opening of the hotel marks the completion of this massive achievement. Over the coming years the regeneration of the whole of the Kings Cross area into the capital’s international business and cultural quarter, will make the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London and its setting one of London’s proudest achievements of the early 21st century.”
The grand opening, which featured a performance from pint-sized jazz supremo Jamie Cullum, marked a welcome return to form for an iconic London landmark that had fallen on hard time.
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When it first opened in 1873, not only was it the last word in grandiosity, but it had all the mod-cons of the time - the first revolving door in England, hydraulic lifts and indoor flushing toilets.
It was a profitable business until after WW1, when it began to show its age, and the five bathrooms began to seem rather inadequate in the face of modern competition.
In 1922, it was sold to the rail companies, and in 1935 the hotel shut up shop, becoming accommodation for rail workers. Despite being bombed three times in a month during the second world war, the structure remained intact, though unloved and was for years something of a white elephant greeting visitors to the capital.
Then in 2002 MLC won the refurbishment contract, and nine years on things look bright for the old lady, with every room is booked, including the royal suite.