You’ve managed to surprise me yet again! Yes, all of you, wonderful people out there in the dark. (Bonus points for anyone who recognizes this film reference!) Thank you very much for the support you’ve shown towards my Courtauld Gallery post. Your responses and retweets have been highly appreciated during the past week!
In today’s post I have decided to write about the rather grand staircase at the St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel. I know, it’s a bit of an obvious choice, but if this iconic and imposing staircase is good enough for the Spice Girls*, you can’t fault me for featuring it on this humble blog too!
I’ve been wondering the past few days what fascinates me so much about staircases? From an architectural point of view, they are, of course, feats of craftsmanship and ingenuity, yet there seems to be more to them. Can they also be read as metaphors for life or is that a tad too simplistic?
Just like the steps of a long-winding staircase, we all have our daily ups and downs. For instance this weekend, I was asked by a member of the public to be quiet while delivering an official Highlights Tour at the British Museum. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience, to say the least, but, in true British fashion, I kept calm and carried on. Nonetheless, the visitor in question might just as well have thrown me down a set of stairs. Melodramatic, me? Never! … On a more positive note (or shall I say step?), however, I will be delivering two free Art Deco in Bloomsbury walks during the Bloomsbury Festival in late October. I’m delighted about the news and I hope to see some of you there. (A gratuitous plug if you ever saw one, right?)
Anyway, I’ve gone a bit off track here, so let’s get back to the more pleasant business at hand and have a look inside the behemoth which flanks the eastern end of Euston Road.
A masterpiece of the Gothic Revival style, the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, which used to be known as the Midland Grand Hotel, was designed by the prolific architect Sir George Gilbert Scott. The joint was first opened by Queen Victoria in 1873 – I wonder if they provided her with a private loo too? – and since then it had a few ups and downs of its own. After a +£200 million refurbishment, the modernized hotel was finally reopened in 2011 and has been able to re-establish itself as a proper King’s Cross destination since. (Its proximity to St. Pancras International and the Eurostar Terminal, no doubt, certainly helps too!)
The grand staircase is undoubtedly the centerpiece of the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel. It sprawls over three floors and, surprisingly, it is be found in the west wing of the building. Quite a sight to behold, the stairs are lavishly carpeted from top to bottom and the overall effect always makes me feel like I’ve stepped into one of M. C. Escher’s intricate ‘landscapes’ or that I’ve fallen down Lewis Carroll‘s mythical rabbit hole.
Usually for Christmas I organize a special event for my friends and last year we went onto a private tour of the building. Royden Stock, the hotel historian, took us around the facilities and his enthusiasm for the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel really shone through. Two thumbs up!
A few weeks ago, @GWinLondon, @travelling_dave, @FranPickering and I also went back to the hotel for tea and scones (see evidence below). While being delicious, I have to warn you – public service announcement ahead – that the scones are enormous and a single one could easily feed four people. While most members of this group like their cakes, that day we learned that, indeed, there can be too much of a good thing! 😉
This brings us to the end of today’s exploration. As @FranPickering correctly predicted in one of her recent blog posts, I shall be writing about my beloved Venice next. I really do wonder how she came to this conclusion? Undoubtedly, Fran has developed some strong psychic powers or I am just that predictable …
Wishing all of my UK readers a fun-filled Bank Holiday Weekend!
*(For research purposes, I had to watch the Spice Girls’ infamous ‘Wannabe’ music video and gosh, let me tell you, it does not age well. It’s fun to see though how they used the hotel when it was still derelict, so it’s well worth a watch.)