Grand Staircases of London #2 (St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel)

Dear Reader(s),

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!

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The grand staircase at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel.

stpancrasrailingsI’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.

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Am I looking up? Or am I looking down? I can’t tell!

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Another mind-boggling view taken from the bottom of the staircase.

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 +Β£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!)

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And thus Y. fell down the rabbit hole … (He could do with a break now!)

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A vista M.C. Escher would have been proud of!

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 ofΒ M. C. Escher’s intricate ‘landscapes’ or that I’ve fallen down Lewis Carroll‘s mythical rabbit hole.

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The ceiling adds a dash of bright colours to the staircase.

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The ghost of the Spice Girls is not to be seen on this ‘antique’ photo.

Usually for Christmas I organize a special eventΒ 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! πŸ˜‰

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The St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel Chocolate Chip Scone of Death.

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.)

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22 thoughts on “Grand Staircases of London #2 (St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel)

  1. Your blog posts always make me smile, Y. This one however has also made me hungry…

    I also have a weird thing about staircases. Liberty’s has a magnificent but small in statute oak one.

    • LOL. Of all blog posts, I didn’t think this one was going to make you hungry. It seems you would welcome a gargantuan scone about now then! πŸ˜‰

      Oh yes, I didn’t think of Liberty’s staircase. I love it too, especially the creaking sounds it make, although I can imagine it must be difficult to photograph. Shall to a *research* trip soon.

      y.

  2. Another great post. I went to St Paul’s Cathedral yesterday and got to walk down the geometric staircase. I’ve seen it from the top and bottom a few times but it was a real treat to walk on the staircase. Maybe that could be a candidate for a future blog post?

    • Hi Laura,

      Your Majesty, Queen of London, thanks you for commenting on the blog! (*Trying not to hyperventilate, it’s not every day that royalty steps by.*)

      I’ve seen pictures of your recent trip to St Paul’s and I will add it to the list of places to visit. The things I do for the sake of this blog … Nonetheless, I have a little confession to make. *whispers* While living in London for seven years now, I have never visited St Paul’s Cathedral. Please, my Queen, don’t banish me from your land!

      y.

      • Beware I may start believing the “Queen of London” stuff if you keep saying it. πŸ˜‰

        St Paul’s Cathedral is proper brilliant and you can easily spend half a day or more there. UK taxpayers who sign a Gift Aid form when buying their ticket get an annual pass rather than a one time only ticket. The guided tours and multimedia tours are both included in the ticket price but only the guided tour gets you in to the area with the geometric staircase. The walk to the upper galleries is quite strenuous but worth returning to see the views at different times of the year. Yep, recommended.

  3. Thank you for entertaining us all with another wonderful post; I am glad I was part of the expedition in this occasion and I can confirm those scones are massive…but delicious! After reading this I watched that Spice Girls video again (for research purposes of course!)…we could have recreated it on those steps but we were missing a fifth member! πŸ˜‰

  4. Hi Yannick

    Another great blog and beautiful photos. Thanks for choosing my favourite building in London with its magnificent staircase. I will pass on watching the Spice Girls video. Thanks too for the mention and I can definitely confirm that the scones are gigantic and utterly delicious.

  5. Hi, all photos are so beautiful! Could I ask something? Can we visit free or without permission as a tourist? How did you enter? I will stay in London in this week and I really want to see this beautiful stair!

    • Hi Laila,

      Thank you very much for your kind words about my photographs – it’s highly appreciated.

      Having a look around the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel is fairly easy and all you have to do is visit the lobby. Once you are inside of the lobby, walk to your left and you will find the iconic ‘Spice Girls’ staircase just off a little corridor.

      Have a great time in London,

      Yannick

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