Lucy Self visits the Great Northern Hotel and spends most of it kicking herself for taking so long to visit.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, it’s a hard life trying to keep up with every London opening. I’ve become so sensitive to this chronic food flagging; every instapic of the city’s current hot dish is like a blow to the ribs. The only comfort is the fact that, even if we all ate at the latest culinary crack spots three times a day, and slept in a swanky new hotel every night, we’d still never be able to stay abreast.
The Great Northern Hotel, a stunning boutique hotel nestling the left corner of Kings Cross Station, re-opened after an extensive refurbishment in summer 2013. Even for me, taking two years to visit is a bit slack – so much so when I checked in and they asked me if I’d stayed before, I almost pretended to be a tourist.
This mental kicking of oneself continued as we were shown to a beautiful wood-panelled room complete with generous living room, startling white and chrome shower room with double sinks, and huge bed flanked by a beautiful vintage mirror. There’s even a built-in desk in the hallway, with bay windows peering over the surrounding rooftops.
The four-year refurb cost 14 million and it seems, from feet-sinking plush carpets to the high-tech coffee machines to gleaming gold lifts, every penny was thoughtfully spent. Design throughout caused serious jaw dropping – marrying the countless characteristics of the original Italiante 1854 Lewis Cubitt-designed building, with breathtaking modish blasts of gunmetal, colour and witty modern art.
Somehow Plum + Spilt Milk, the hotel’s dining room curated by celebrity chef Mark Sargent, manages to be even more beautiful. Leather cream banquettes edged in gold contrast with a dark parquet floor, heavy walnut tables wrapped in grey velvet seating are offset with cool blue walls. It’s a room rooted in the kind of timeless style every restaurant designer aims for and few actually achieve. I didn’t need another reason to love it, but the Thursday night din of a fully booked room, it’s faultlessly cheerful staff and an utterly reliable menu of British brasserie classics were the proverbial cherry on top.
Sargent’s simple menu aim to showcase great ingredients and they do. Highlights include a patty of rich haggis topped with a fried duck egg; fresh crabmeat tasting of the sea piled onto hot toast; crisp-skinned spring chicken with a tomato sauce so deep its almost meaningful; and a side dish of baked leeks drowned to glorious death in molten Caerphilly. The next day’s proper Full English further showcased the kitchen’s obvious care when sourcing produce and shafts of morning sunlight picking their way across previously mentioned eye-pleasing interior features, weren’t bad either…
Determined to leave no public space unturned, we finished the evening with elegantly served G&T’s in the brooding GNH bar. Followed by a midnight feast of raspberry sponge in our tenth floor pantry, en route back to the room. By the time I’d fully inspected the robes (fluffy, monogramed), selection of hot drinks (Teapigs, N’espresso) and climbed into bed (crisp, white, comfy), any guilt at taking 24 months to visit had been totally displaced. That’s the thing about the Great Northern Hotel. So clearly wanting you to enjoy yourself and everything around you, resistance is futile.
Great Northern Hotel, Pancras Rd, King’s Cross, London N1C 4TB