Great Northern Hotel London Couchette room

The Great Northern Hotel London – A Luxury Boutique SPG Award Stay

Posted on Posted in Hotels, Lodging, London Hotels, Loyalty Points, luxury hotel, Travel
Great Northern Hotel London Couchette room
The leaning mirror was well secured in my couchette room (I checked!) at the Great Northern Hotel London

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.

Location

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.

The Great Northern Hotel London
The train hotel, Great Northern Hotel London sandwiched between King’s Cross and St. Pancras train stations

Arrival

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.

Great Northern Hotel London sign
Subdued signage that you migt walk past like I did at the Great Northern Hotel London
Entrance to the Great Northern Hotel London
Entrance to the Great Northern Hotel is behind the train taxi queue

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.

Great Northern Hotel London lobby
Small lobby at the Great Northern Hotel London but packed with great design elements
Great Northern Hotel London lobby view
View of the lobby from the front door entrance at the Great Northern Hotel London

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.

Great Northern Hotel third floor map
My couchette room is the smallest room category at the Great Northern Hotel
Guest Hallway at the Great Northern Hotel London
Third floor guest floor hallway in muted colors provided a relaxing feeling at The Great Northern Hotel London

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.

Great Northern Hotel room amenities
Small wardrobe in the couchette room with room amenities at the Great Northern Hotel London

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.

Couchette Room Great Northern Hotel London
My cozy couchette bedroom at the Great Northern Hotel London at King’s Cross
Couchette Great Northern Hotel London
My leather seating option in the couchette room at the Great Northern Hotel London

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.

Great Northern Hotel London
Switches, plugs, lights and a desk at the Great Northern Hotel London

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.

Great Northern Hotel London bathroom
Bathroom double doors in the Couchette room at the Great Northern Hotel London
Great Northern Hotel London Bathroom
Spacious, well appointed couchette room bathroom at the Great Northern Hotel London
Malin & Goetz toiletries Great Northern Hotel London
Malin & Goetz toiletries in food & drink flavors at The Great Northern Hotel London
Warm towels London Great Northern Hotel London
Plush warm towels in the large bathroom at the Great Northern Hotel London

Restaurants/Bars

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.

Kiosk Kings Cross Sandwich  Takeaway Great Northern Hotel London
Tempting sandwiches at the Kiosk in the Great Northern Hotel – this is the King’s Cross window
GNH Bar at the Great Northern Hotel London
The swanky subway tiled chandelier GNH Bar at the Great Northern Hotel London at Kings Cross

The Gym

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.

Kings Cross swing art
The swing at King’s Cross – art or function?

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.

King's Cross Night view
The view inside King’s Cross at night is pretty and less crowded

The Pantry

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.

Great Northern Hotel London Pantry
Cute homey design of the guest floor pantry at The Great Northern Hotel London
Great Northern Hotel London coffee tea
A variety of coffee and tea options in the guest floor pantry at the Great Northern Hotel London
Great Northern Hotel London pantry
Pantry seating area on the third floor of the Great Northern Hotel London
Afternoon cake Great Northern Hotel London pantry
Cake for your afternoon tea at the Great Northern Hotel London pantry

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.

German Gymnasium dining room photo
Newly restored and opened – the German Gymnasium at Kings Cross steps from the Great Northern Hotel London
Drake & Morgan photo dining room London
Short walk from King’s Cross is Drake & Morgan casual restaurant

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!

Private seating area across from stairs to the first floor Plum & Spilt Milk at the Great Northern Hotel London
Private seating area across from stairs to the first floor Plum & Spilt Milk at the Great Northern Hotel London

 

11 thoughts on “The Great Northern Hotel London – A Luxury Boutique SPG Award Stay

  1. What a fun, historic hotel to stay in! Not your typical Starwood hotel :-). We had to find out more about what a “couchette” room is – basically it evokes a train’s sleeper cabin. Looks very cozy. Just as well though the bathrooms are bigger than what one would have found on a train :-).

  2. Wonderful write up! I also read about your stay at the Park Lane Hotel London. I’m trying to figure out which one (Great Northern Hotel v. Park Lane) to book with points for 5 nights? And thoughts, pros and cons? Thanks!

    1. Thanks! I’ve just stayed at the newly renovated Park Lane Hotel (still under construction not all rooms converted) and it was amazing the transformation – I was in a king room.

      Tough call actually because you can’t guarantee a new room at the Park Lane yet and could end up in the older rooms which are blah but bigger than GNH. The Park Lane lobby bar/restaurant isn’t open yet and there isn’t much in the area to walk to – I’d give the GNH advantages to the plethora of food/drink options nearby as well as transit but the rooms are cozy and five nights for a couple might be too much.

  3. I booked 10 nights on points in the Cubitt Room this summer. Looking forward to staying there… Seems like a great value being a Category 5 hotel.

      1. Changed my mind and will probably have to go in October, since I think I will save more money for the trip then. Hopefully, the weather is still decent the end of October!

    1. Hi Don – Unfortunately, no rooms were available to upgrade me during my stay – I did ask at check-in. I’ve found most of my London stays as SPG Gold are rarely ever upgraded as the hotels are generally pretty full. It might be different if I was platinum? Not sure

  4. Hi! I’m going to in London for the first time and I want to redeem my SPG points for 4 nights in either Park Lane or The Great Northern Hotel (they require the same amount of SPG points). Which one do you recommend for my first time in London? 🙂

    1. Hi Daniela – Tough question! It does depend on your dates (and how many people) as the Park Lane is still under construction so not all rooms are finished and I’d hate for you to get an old room. I believe they were hoping to be done before summer (you’d need to call to check).

      The Park Lane is across from Buckingham Palace, on Piccadilly so 15-20 minutes walking to shopping, Oxford Street, Soho, Piccadilly Circus and such. But the area outside of Shepards Market doesn’t really have a lot of restaurants to choose from and the hotel has one restaurant open. It is a big hotel. The nearest tube stop is Green Park and requires a bit of a walk to/from the hotel. The hotel does offer twin rooms, queen and king and might be better for a couple or family.

      The GNH is a boutique hotel and I loved the treats put out in the common coffee room at the end of the hall each day. The rooms are definitely smaller (cozy) but I personally prefer the boutique look and feel. I loved being in the train area next to all the food options (M&S, Pret, etc.) which saved money as well as the various underground lines to get everywhere in the city including the airport. So for me, I’d stay at the GNH because I feel it’s a better value for the points, provides a posh first time stay and has easy access to the city. The GNH is good for solo stays or cozy couples.

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