I’ve stayed in many London luxury historic hotels, boutique hotels and small rooms but my first visit to the Great Northern Hotel London melded all of my past experiences into one luxury Starwood (SPG) award stay. The original railway hotel first opened in 1853 and has been restored with such luxury and glamour that it has made many a top 10 list and won accolades since debuting in 2013 after a five year (wow!) restoration. The lengthy restoration was due to the strict rules governing the Grade II listing landmark status. The hotel is a stunner and utilizes every inch to impress and provide boutique comfort to guests. With 91 rooms, it is an independent boutique property in the Starwood Tribute Portfolio collection, newly added to the SPG family in September 2015. When I found the Great Northern Hotel London on the SPG app, I was super excited to try it out on my upcoming stay in London as I’ve not spent any time in the King’s Cross neighborhood.
Riding the Piccadilly line from Heathrow for just over an hour, I exited the tube station at Kings Cross. Standing on Euston Street looking at the Kings Cross train station, I knew the hotel was close but couldn’t see it in the rain. I turned around a few times when I saw the lettering “Great Northern Hotel” on the left and laughed because I was staring at it without seeing it for about five minutes (file under “dumb things I do”). The hotel is connected to King’s Cross train station which makes it central to the tube station (Piccadilly, Northern, Victoria, Metropolitan, Circle and Hammersmith and City lines) as well as the National Rail. Across the road is St. Pancras station which provides access to the Eurostar and other train lines.
I missed the hotel entrance door (across from the taxi stand on the left) and ended up walking around the hotel past the tempting sandwich shop, Kiosk, the GNH hotel bar and to the front door with the GNH initials.
With doors on the right and left, I went left and found the elevators but no check in desk. I opened the door ahead and saw the bar on the left and stairs up and over to the front desk (note, this was the right turn initially that I missed). The front desk was staffed by three people at two terminals. Staff was welcoming and acknowledged my gold status. Luckily, my room was ready for early check-in (1 p.m. vs. the normal 2 p.m. check-in) and I was offered a gold status amenity (points or a drink) and then quickly taken to my room by the bellman and shown all the features of my room.
Couchette Room 317
The hotel has five floors and my room, a couchette room, was on the third floor. The couchette rooms are the smallest of the three categories and due to the historic renovation the space may differ a bit as seen on the floor map. Once off the elevator, you need to wave your hotel room key to open the main door to the floor (security feature). My room was directly across from the security door and elevator bank (surprisingly quiet). The hallway was decorated in muted cremes and browns with a stocked pantry at the end of the hall open to guests.
Expecting a small standard couchette room, I was surprised that the high ceilings made the room appear much bigger. Walking in, the double doored bathroom was on the right as was the cabinet with safe, coffee maker, minibar and a few hangers with storage space.
Walking the hard wood floors past the bathroom, the bedroom was reminiscent of a cruise cabin, just a bit more swanky and luxurious. The leather headboard and padded seating at the end of the bed was accompanied by a flat screen television and a small desk with leather seat. The bed was firm and yet I slept better than I anticipated. The linens were plush and the bed has a duvet as the main cover – it was warm and comfortable.
I was shown all the buttons of interest including the automatic shade and curtains. The couchette bed, meaning that one side is flush to the wall and only one way in took up 90% of the bedroom. The room is perfect for a single/solo traveler but might be a bit tight for a couple for more than a night.
Wi-Fi is standard but was wonky in my room during the stay. If I wasn’t using my device I was disconnected and had to connect each time. Not the end of the world, just annoying. The front desk tried to help but couldn’t figure out why I was having problems so not sure if room specific or not.
Couchette Room – Bathroom
The bathroom was large for the small room. Double doors, a walk in shower and room for toiletries above the sink, it was a surprise. The toiletries are from Malin & Goetz, a brand I’m not familiar with, in interesting fragrances such as rum soap, peppermint shampoo, cilantro conditioner, rum body wash and a vitamin moisturizer. There was a nice option of a bathroom nightlight under the sink to provide just enough light to get around in the middle of the night without affecting the room light for sleeping.
There is a very posh British restaurant Plum & Spilt Milk on the first floor, the GNB ground floor bar and two other snug bars to visit. I didn’t get to visit any of the bars or restaurant options this visit but they were consistently popular throughout the day and night based on my experience. The Kiosk sandwich bar is part of the hotel offering tempting takeaway until late night.
The hotel doesn’t have a gym onsite but does offer complimentary gym access and classes at the Bloomsbury Fitness Center. You need to have the front desk make class reservations. A nice perk of the hotel.
Another fitness option is Run KX, a free trainer led 5km run around the neighborhood. For a fee, there is a Bootcamp class you can join. Visit the King’s Cross website for more information.
The pantry at the end of each guest room hallway offered fruit, cakes, coffee and tea as well as counter space and reading materials if you want to socialize outside of your room. The hallway also contains a couch if you need more space. These are nice touch given that the rooms are a bit small and if traveling with friends or family in another room you can meet up here away from the public spaces.
King’s Cross – What’s nearby?
Location, location, location! There are so many options steps away – both railway stations, Kings Cross and St. Pancreas, offer a plethora of food options – Pret sandwiches, a pub, champagne bar, markets like M&S and Waitrose as well as tourist attraction Track 9 ¾ of Harry Potter fame. Outside the train station and just a short walk from the hotel are many food options, highlights include the new German Gymnasium, Drake & Morgan and a Vinoteca. On Euston Street, there are many pubs, restaurants and fast food takeaway options as expected near a train station.
Overall – The Great Northern Hotel London
I thoroughly enjoyed my three night stay at the Great Northern Hotel London – it was posh, comfortable and a great base for exploring London. During my award stay, in November, the rates were slightly under 250 GBP ($400+) so using 12,000 points per night was a great redemption decision. I would definitely stay here again to explore the area more and eat that cake in the pantry!