The Standard, London WC1: hotel and restaurant review
Visit this stylish hotel, restaurant and bar in King's Cross to eat Ibérico pork with chimichurri, sip Mediterranean martinis and soak in bath tubs with a view
Looking for a hotel near St Pancras? Read our review of this retro-chic hotel next to St Pancras Station, and check out our favourite places to eat and drink in King's Cross here...
The Standard in a nutshell
There’s nothing standard about The Standard. Minutes from St Pancras International, London’s rail-based gateway to Europe, the cool kids behind America’s Standard Hotel group have opened their first UK outpost, converting a 1970s concrete block into a hip eating and drinking destination, with more than 200 groovy retro-kitsch bedrooms on site.
Once not much more than a brutalist carbuncle, Camden Council’s King’s Cross building has undergone much polishing and preening to become the gleaming hotel it is today. With a cherry-red exterior lift taking centre stage, it stands in stark architectural contrast to its neighbours.
Inside is a groovy geometric feast for the eyes, from an aquamarine palate of tiles in the wood-panelled lobby to a shaggy wool installation on a lounge wall. Here, music industry moguls make use of a retro recording studio booth to throw lively album launches and parties, and smiley staff in floaty shirts bring guests martini menus and dive-bar food.
Which room should I book?
It may be the priciest (with the exception of the suites), but book a King’s Terrace room and you’ll be rewarded with a large terrace complete with an outdoor bath that overlooks the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel and its terracotta-coloured clock tower. There are no ‘standard’ rooms at The Standard – the most basic options still boast bathrobes, bespoke Davines toiletries and Bang & Olufsen speakers.
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The building’s geometric shape adds character to outer-ring rooms (internal Cosy Cores don’t have windows, but they do have shower rooms strung with ferns), with squishy sofas in retro colours tucked beneath aquarium-like curved windows. Wallace Sewell, TFL’s fabric designers, have created the bedspreads and carpets, with the nostalgic red, purple and blue palette reminding guests how in-the-thick-of-it they are. Retro-chic design continues in the bathrooms, where pale pink and black tiles cover monsoon shower walls, and mint green taps add a pop of colour.
The food and drink
Chef Adam Rawson is behind the food at the ground floor restaurants. Isla’s vibrant space, with floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open onto a plant-filled terrace, is home to light British small plates divided into “sea”, “soil” and “land”. Our pick of the vegetarian soil section was creamy burrata covered in a neat dome of yellow courgette slices; a hunk of broccoli slathered in yogurt, finely chopped almonds and mustard; and salty wrinkled potatoes, sprinkled with sea herbs. From the land, Ibérico pork was cut into pink slices, with caramelised edges, punchy chimichurri and pretty cones of sliced daikon.
There are funky natural wines from Croatia, Greece, Israel and beyond, or dip into the cocktail list. Tequila adds a margarita-feel to the Cross Sea Martini, while Gin Mare is at home with limoncello in a Mediterranean Martini. Continue your evening in the adjoining Double Standard bar, where espresso martinis are laced with stout syrup and boulevardiers are spruced-up with a grape shrub. Adam has used this space to play with New York dive-bar food: chicken scratchings, mac ’n’ cheese, and sharing boards that showcase Cobble Lane fennel salami, Secret Smokehouse salmon and a range of British cheeses. Adam is known for his burgers, so tuck into an aged beef patty with Branston, stilton, bacon and truffle aïoli.
What’s the breakfast like?
Make the most of humongous beds and order breakfast delivered to your room. Avocado on toast pepped-up with chimichurri, perhaps, or a batch of brown butter madeleines with Square Mile coffee. Head down to Isla for heartier dishes, including piquillo pepper and smoked mozzarella shakshuka, truffle-laced duxelle mushroom omelettes and confit duck hash with chimichurri.
Is it family-friendly?
The party vibe isn’t a perfect fit for children, but Double Standard rooms do come with two double beds if you’re visiting as a family.
The Standard is a one-minute walk (if that) from St Pancras International, so it’s well-placed if you want to kick off a trip to Amsterdam, Paris or the south of France in style. There’s an impressive library in the lounge, so browse the carefully categorised book shelves (there’s philosophy, memoirs and pets, as well as romance, hope and darkness) and settle into a brown leather sofa before catching your Eurostar.
Word by Alex Crossley
Photographs by Charlie McKay and David Cleveland