Monday, January 24, 2011

St Pancras: Embryo Hotel


The hotel in St Pancras is due to open very soon. It will be a Renaissance branded hotel, run by Marriott: St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London. Already the construction hoardings are receding - from the entrance to The Chambers we can now see through to the wide sweeping driveway (perhaps 'carriageway' is appropriate) where soon I will be able to walk up to the front door, or catch a cab right outside - instead of the rather tedious route through the construction zone and the station concourse.

We residents of The Chambers are kept up to date with regular bulletins on progress. The 'Grand Opening' is planned for May 2011, but a 'soft opening' - the first guest walking through the front door - will occur in late February/early March. How exciting! But what will they see? I could describe to you the glimpse of a wonderful staircase I have seen through an open doorway while the builders were moving in and out; or an even more magnificent staircase which is the subject of a marvellous framed painting that turned up in our concierge reception today.

Another possibility is to consider the display now downstairs on the concourse, which includes a model of the whole train station and the Chambers/hotel building - I suspect this was the architects' model built before the renovations began. There are also promotional posters and lots of blurb, telling us that there will be:

10 historic meeting and event rooms with a maximum capacity of 550 people
6 luxurious health and beauty rooms equipped for total sensory transportation
Victorian swimming pool, spa bath, sauna, steam room and fitness suite
The Gilbert Scott Restaurant to be run by one of Britain's most celebrated chefs, Marcus Wareing
245 richly appointed bedrooms including grand suites with butler service and Chambers Club access
Historic Booking Office bar and restaurant with direct access to St Pancras International Station
Stunning Grand Staircase and Roof terrace

A couple of questions do occur: such as, what is a 'Victorian swimming pool'? And what is the 'Chambers Club' and should I be interested in it? Early blog readers may recall that Sir Gilbert Scott was the architect who designed the Midland Grand Hotel, now the St Pancras Chambers building, in the 1860s.

Model of St Pancras train shed, new and old

Model of St Pancras Chambers, sin construction scaffolding

The promised facilities
But if we really want to know what the new hotel will look like, we don't have to speculate or use our imagination: there are photos on the web! Yes, the so-far non-existent hotel has been tastefully photographed and you too can see it in all its splendour - there are even people exercising in the putative gym. Have a look at the photos on Expedia, for example. And there is a whole photo gallery on the Marriott website - admittedly some of them date from about a 100 years ago. I hope that's clear to intending guests.

This has got me speculating - obviously the marketing people have to get something together or there won't be any guests for the 'soft opening'. The gym picture will be a stock photo, but I wonder if there are already guest rooms which have been fully decorated and furnished, or perhaps just a 'sample' suite? And what about the restaurant and function room pictures? Is there really, behind all that tatty construction scaffolding out there, a chrysalis with a beautiful butterfly inside, ready to unfurl its gorgeous wings very, very soon?

By the way, we Chambers residents are entitled to discounted room rates for family and friends. And we intend to become regulars at the Booking Office Bar. The hotel rooms are in a new wing built to resemble the old wing (where I live), at least externally. Presumably the interiors are very plush, since they claim 4.5 stars for the hotel. The photos look nice. Come visit sometime.

Butterfly image:

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