Whether you are alighting from Paris via the Eurostar, the 6-minute Javelin from the Olympic Village, The Flying Scotsman or Platform 9 ¾ (or perhaps just the queue to be snapped with the disappearing trolley and shop dedicated to the world’s most famous young wizard), King’s Cross represents connectivity and the cutting edge; the current of now and promise of tomorrow today as it did when the Midland Railway first unveiled its Gothic architectural masterpiece 150 years ago.
Wrapping the iconic façade of the Eurostar terminus and its airy, polished platforms you’ll find one of the finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture in London - the Grade I-listed St Pancras Renaissance, a vast, imposing red brick icon teeming with Sir Gilbert Scott flourishes of ogees, arches, frescos and trefoils. To St Pancras International’s west stand two modern day cerebral temples to knowledge and advancement – the British Library, the largest public library in the world, housing 14 million books from the Codex Sinaiticus to the Magna Carta and Beowulf. It’s introduced by a sculpture court and the King’s Library – George III’s 80,000-strong collection of books displayed in a centrepiece glass tower. Next door lies the Francis Crick Institute, dedicated to medical advancement.
Head north out of St Pancras International and cross over from the golden age of industrialisation to the new frontier of technology. St Pancras Square is the new des res for sign-of-the-times global power houses brands – from Louis Vuitton to Havas, Universal Music to YouTube. This year Google began building their new ‘landscraper’ London headquarters – as wide as The Shard is long.
Crossing over Goods Yard and into the spellbinding sequence of arches comprising the just-opened Tom Dixon Shop, a designer in a white laboratory coat guides a group of style-savvy enthusiasts in creating Etch Dot Pendant lights. Here at The Factory interactive workshops will span electronics, pickling, bottling and ceramics over the coming months. The headquarters of the godfather of British contemporary industrial design occupy the sinuous half-crescented block snaking up to Coal Drops Yard – where his new restaurant (pending announcement) and terrace command views sweeping this whole, glorious Victorian urban toy town from the British Library up to the Skip Garden’s presidential viewing tower.
Passing the curious tourists and Londoners dining on the pièce-de-resistance esplanade of centrepiece Granary Square, children frolic in the dancing fountains, fashionistas saunter out of Central St Martins and grass steps flank the floating cinema on the canal.
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Winding up the Victorian cobblestoned curling path, the latest apogee of the King’s Cross redevelopment beckons. Just opened Coal Drops Yard is home to cult independent London luxury brands such as Miller Harris, Paul Smith, Lost Property of London and Brindisa, with shops housed in the historic depots and stables of what was originally London’s fish and coal terminus.
Behind lie the retro-futuristic spheres of the luxury residences occupying Gasholders and the capital’s favourite picture house – Everyman – where table service and sofas accompany the latest movie releases. No matter where you stumble upon in the new King’s Cross redevelopment – with its intelligent, sustainable flourishes of water features and green walls and roofs – somehow you always find yourself standing at the confluence of pedicured greenery and pedestrianised gleam of industrialism.
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Exploring the forefront of London’s cutting edge is hungry work. Reflect on the face of the future in the setting of how it first began. Circling back to St Pancras International you can fine dine in a satellite of agenda-setting restaurants and bars as the sparkle of Champagnes glint off gleaming gilt furnishings and European dishes served in listed surrounds evoking the golden age of steam travel. If you’re among the chosen few who alighted here via Platform 9 ¾ you’ll know that it augurs the invention and magicality discovered in King’s Cross.
For more ideas on Do, Dine and Spend in London and beyond, visit our Destinations page.