Published On: Sat, Feb 4th, 2023

Great Northern Hotel: A classic gem at Kings Cross Station – review | Short & City breaks | Travel

Great Northern hotel

The Great Northern Hotel is just a stone’s throw from Kings Cross and St Pancras (Image: Great Northern Hotel)

The Great Northern Hotel first opened in 1854, and though it has experienced several iterations over the years, continues to welcome guests through its doors. Housed in a Grade-II listed building, the hotel provides a luxurious solace from the commotion of one of the capital’s busiest transport hubs. And though it was refurbished in 2013, the building maintains the same timeless townhouse elegance as when it was first built, with a grand wrought-iron staircase, stunning stainless windows and wide, curving corridors.

Classic features are juxtaposed by impressive modern artwork, particularly on the staircase leading to the newly transformed RAILS restaurant and little bar, formerly Plum + Spilt Milk.

An impressive installation by artist Debbie Smyth, constructed from shining pins and connecting string, takes inspiration from the architecture of the adjoining Kings Cross station, cartography of London and Europe and the hotel’s time-honoured interior. Passing through the guest areas of the hotel, keep an eye out for the framed Penguin paperback books and 7″ singles.

The lower level of the hotel is buzzing with life, thanks to the adjoining GNH bar and terrace, which draws inspiration from the seminal railway bars of the 19th century. But once checked in and shown to our room, we were taken aback by just how peaceful the upper levels are.

Concierge staff guide guests to a private lift which ascends to one of four floors where the 88 en-suite rooms are located. Security is a top priority at the hotel, and only those holding a room key are able to pass through the doors to guest corridors.

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Afternoon tea at Great Northern Hotel

The afternoon tea is on offer at RAILS on Saturdays and Sundays (Image: Aimee Robinson)

Heritage room at GNH

We stayed in the ‘Heritage’ room (Image: Great Northern Hotel)

The Rooms

Each of the hotel’s 88 bedrooms is carefully designed to include modern features while still celebrating the heritage of the hotel. There are four room types to choose from, including the ‘Couchette’ which pays homage to the classic continental sleeper; the ‘Edwardian’ featuring rich walnut panelling reminiscent of the most opulent age-old railways carriages; the ‘Victorian’, the largest room the hotel has to offer (complete with standalone bath) and the ‘Heritage’, where we spent our stay.

Painted in a muted green, the room features white panelling and a decadent mirror above the European king-size bed by Hypnos, the same family-run company which has been supplying the Royal Family since 1929. Tall sash windows flood the room with daylight and offer beautiful views over Kings Cross Station, while a cosy leather corner seat offers somewhere to sit and watch the world go by.

Double doors, a nod to classic design features, give way to a spacious bathroom featuring a shower and toiletries (though there is a fee to take them out of the room, should the aroma of the nettle and fig leaf hand soap take your fancy). The room also comes kitted out with dressing gowns and slippers for guests, as well as complimentary soft drinks, bottled water and a Nespresso machine.

However, if you do begin to feel a little peckish, a quaint ‘pantry’ is located at the end of each corridor, offering quintessential British treats (for our stay this meant Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers which my partner was quick to help himself to and freshly made chocolate brownies) as well as tea and coffee making facilities.

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RAILS restaurant

RAILS is the latest addition to the hotel, offering a classy dinner spot (Image: Aimee Robinson)

Dining and drinking

RAILS restaurant and little bar are the newest additions to the Great Northern Hotel, opening to guests in November 2022. Much like the hotel, RAILS takes inspiration from both contemporary and classic design, with vast floor-to-ceiling windows brightening up the room. Rich, dark wood and delicate olive-toned curtains pay homage to the Parisian cafés within reach from Eurostar’s St Pancras dwelling, while hand-blown pendant lights add a golden glow to the space once dusk arrives. An eye-catching, swirling seating area makes up the centre of the restaurant, with tables and window booths filling the surrounding area. Meanwhile, foliage and pastel floral arrangements add a touch of femininity.

RAILS is open for dinner service, with “must-try mains” from Executive Chef Stéphane Cerisier including seared Cornish cod with buttered leek, apple and thyme dressing and Moules Frites in a white wine, shallot and parsley sauce. However, on this occasion, we visited the restaurant for an elegant afternoon tea overlooking Kings Cross Station.

From the moment of arrival, staff are universally friendly and knowledgeable, taking the time to talk through each of the delicacies on offer. If you want to kick off your afternoon tea with a little sparkle, there is the option of adding a glass of Nyetimber Sparkling Wine or Perrier Jouet Champagne to the experience. And naturally, the menu has a vast selection of teas to choose from.

Expect to be wowed when the tiered tea stand arrives, decorated with perfectly oblong sandwiches, golden scones and ornate, handmade cakes. An added bonus, which is often rare to find with the English tradition, is that the restaurant offers a vegetarian option. As well as sandwiches, including an age-old favourite cheddar and tomato, the savoury option also featured a beautifully bitesize wild mushroom tartlet.

GNH bar

Downstairs the GNH bar and terrace is buzzing with life (Image: Great Northern Hotel)

The cakes, though almost too stunning to eat, taste just as good as they look. The Victoria Sponge slice was a chic take on a classic, decorated with a slither of strawberry and an edible, lilac petal. The mango and passionfruit cheesecake, presented as a glistening yellow orb, was a showstopper.

There is also the option to visit RAILS for breakfast, which can be enjoyed as part of a bed and breakfast package. There are plenty of traditional options to choose from, including vegetarian and vegan options, and room to customise your dishes with extras.

Adjacent to Rails is the Little Bar, a cosy and inviting spot serving up creative cocktails and an extensive choice of wines, half of which are French, as well as aperitifs, digestifs and liqueurs.

The first floor also features the tranquil ‘resident lounge’, a private offshoot of the restaurant and bar with open marble fireplaces almost begging you to sit down and relax. However, if you’re looking for a more lively environment, the GNH bar and terrace is open until 11pm, providing a drinking and dining hotspot for travellers, tourists and hotel guests alike. The bar also hosts a jazz and negroni night on the last Tuesday of every month.


Whether you’re heading to the capital to explore or looking for somewhere to rest your head before an early train, The Great Northern Hotel has an enviable location, with the building backing onto the western concourse of King’s Cross station.

Those with their sights set on the French capital can reach the Eurostar terminal in just a few minutes. Meanwhile, major London landmarks, including the British Museum, Camden Market and The British Library, are all within walking distance (or just a few quick tube stops away).

Prices start from £329 for a Couchette Room, double occupancy (room only). Find rooms and book at

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