The Standard, London, in the heart of ravishingly regenerated King’s Cross, sees the USA’s coolest hotels finally cross the pond. Designer Shawn Hausman has made unlikely style icons of the London Underground and Camden Council’s former Brutalist headquarters, with retro-yet-futurist rooms in Tube-seat-cover hues, sandwiched between an unapologetically decadent Mexican rooftop eatery and American-accented cocktail bar. Add a music studio, photogenic staff in custom designer uniforms and more playful extras and you have a gold-standard party pad.
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A welcome gift, two bottles of water and late check-out till 2pm
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £161.50, including tax at 5 per cent.
Rates do not include the hotel’s à la carte breakfast.
Keep an eye on the Sounds Studio to catch artists laying down tracks or podcasts being recorded. If you’re staying in the Junior Suite and above, you can have a Peloton exercise bike brought to your room on request and arrange a personal pick-up from the Eurostar terminal.
At the hotel
Sounds Studio, gym, lobby lounge, library and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, Bang & Olufsen Bluetooth speaker, Craig Green-designed bathrobes, minibar and sustainable Davines bath products. Guests staying in the King of Kings category or higher get special extras: a Stutterheim raincoat to use during their stay, free trainer-cleaning service and a larger minibar. The King’s Terrace rooms have an outdoor bath tub, and the Suite Terraces have a roomy, furnished outdoor space for socialising or dining.
Our favourite rooms
To embrace the shouldn’t-work-but-it-really-does throwback look, book the Queen’s Standard to King’s Superior Rooms, which are as funky as disco-ball-dappled flares (we mean that in the best possible way). Suites reference the hotel group’s West Coast heritage with natural materials, handsome mid-century-modern pieces and an indoor-outdoor feel. But, a pared-back look doesn’t mean demure: the Junior Suite Terrace’s alfresco bath tub and view-blessed outdoor space, Suite Spot’s bar and Suite Terrace’s vast roof deck are ideal for very private parties.
When the hotel staff are clad in custom designer gear, it’s best to follow – in the sharp, colourful – suit. Bring niche labels, one-off vintage wares and your most eccentric accessories.
The hotel is fully wheelchair accessible, and some of the Double Standard rooms have been specially adapted, including vibrating pillows for guests with hearing issues.
Children of all ages are welcome, but the hotel caters more for a different kind of hip young things. Cots can be added to the King's Superior and above for free; an extra bed for under-16s can be added to Suite Spot and Suite Terrace for £50 a night.
The hotel duly recycles, composts and ensures its cleaning products are Earth-kind. Plus, ingredients are locally sourced where possible.
Follow the celeb guests and swipe the semi-private booth by the bar for an intimate friendly gathering.
Haven’t-tried cool: think chunky Veja trainers with a midi dress, a ‘this old thing’ jacket over trim tailoring and jolie-laide statement pieces.
There are three eateries at the hotel – do your best to hit all of them during your stay. Cheese toasties with tamarind ketchup, duck hash with chimichurri and such will shake off a hangover at chef Adam Rawson’s open-all-day Isla, where lunch and dinners fall into three categories: from the sea, soil or land, and the garden terrace provides respite from the ’hood’s hustle. On the ground level, Double Standard is a nibble-and-sip sorta joint, but with truffled mac and cheese, a very gourmet burger (with Branston pickle and Stilton), pretzels and hot-dog sliders to soak up its IPA and chocolate-stout-embellished cocktails, it makes for a comforting meal. You’ll get a glimpse of 10th-floor Decimo’s 360-degree views riding the external red-pill-shaped elevator to the entrance. This smouldering Mexican restaurant is the Standard’s much-chattered-about showpiece. Chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias cooks mole-glazed quail, suckling pig and gambas rojo over flames, and he’s created a cult dish already: a caviar-dolloped tortilla.
Be sociable in the Library Lounge or grab a book and get lost in it. Here’s where you’ll find the hotel’s Sound Studio: a recording studio and broadcast performance pod, where aural pleasures are guaranteed – say, live singer songwriters, DJs, poets, jazz outfits and such. Order up a highball and tune in. Double Standard is the buzzier bar, a vision in decorative tiling, wood panelling and velvet-upholstered seating. Classic cocktails get remixed here (ginger margarita, cider spritz, chocolate-stout martini), and there’s a select edit of craft beers and wines. Pair with bread and jamón butter, and the intriguing list of small plates, or one of the local-hero cheese and meat platters.
Isla serves food from 7am–10.30am and noon–10.45pm. Decimo serves till midnight, Tuesday and Wednesday; and 3am, Thursday to Saturday. Double Standard opens till 10.30pm, Sunday to Wednesday; and till 11pm Thursday to Saturday.
A room-service menu is available around the clock.
Step out of King’s Cross St Pancras International Station and the hotel’s just across from George Gilbert Scott’s grand Gothic tower and the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, on bustling Argyle Street.
London’s four main airports (Heathrow, Stansted, Luton and Gatwick) range from one to two hours’ drive away. It’s easiest to use public transport: the Gatwick Express arrives at Victoria, where you can ride the Victoria Line Tube straight to King’s Cross; from Heathrow, the Piccadilly Line also runs direct to King’s Cross.
If arriving from the Continent, the Eurostar handily terminates at St Pancras International. The hotel is opposite one of London’s main transport arteries, so it’s easy-peasy to explore the city and beyond – secure an Oyster card (or use your contactless bank card) to tap your way around the city with ease.
You’re outside the congestion-charge zone here, but limited parking spaces and thronged roads make having a car something of a hassle – especially when you’re so well-served by public transport. If wheels are essential, they can easily be hired at all airports. The NCP carpark on Judd Street charges £38 a day; or you can download the JustPark app to see if there are better deals in the neighbourhood.
Worth getting out of bed for
Laze around in the hotel’s Library Lounge, where books are categorised by ‘order and chaos, science and religion or adult relationships’. Peer into the Sounds Studio booth where podcasts, DJ sets and live-music sessions are recorded, take a spin through the fitness room or spend your time less virtuously in the Double Standard bar. Since the Eurostar moved its terminus here from Waterloo, and a dramatic urban makeover (likely to impress Continental arrivals) ensued, King’s Cross has become one of the capital’s most exciting enclaves. The British Library lies just across the way, where you’ll find a copy of every British book ever published, including the Magna Carta, Beowulf manuscript, and, um, The Untold History of the Potato, and inspiring literary events. Wander towards Euston Station and you’ll come across the wondrous Wellcome Collection, a space filled with scientific and cultural oddities, whose exhibitions have probed into the human brain, laid bare superstitions and fetishes, marvelled at medicine and more. In summer, wander along Regent’s Canal, stopping for picnicking and pints along the way (Granary Square has faux grassy steps to sprawl on and fountains to splash through). In season, cinema screenings take place canalside as part of the Summer Love Film Festival. Hop in a London Waterbus to lazily drift along to London Zoo and the leafy confines of Regent’s Park; or don a swimsuit and assemble a crew for a trip in a floating hot tub.
Coal Drops Yard has upmarket boutiques (Tom Dixon homewares, Alain Ducasse chocolates, Wolf & Badger clothing, Aesop lotions and such) to stock up on. Keep your eyes peeled for the frequent pop-ups and workshops held here, running the gamut from terrarium fashioning to jewellery crafting to gin tasting. Close by, King’s Cross Skip Garden is a sweet community project that adds a splash of green to the ’hood, as does the equally lovely Calthorpe Project on Gray’s Inn Road. For a more ragtag shopping expedition, dive into Camden’s Stables Market to hunt down studded bracelets, vintage wearables, handicrafts and dayglo rave wear. Then pick-and-mix from the myriad street-food stalls.
Once a culinary desert, King’s Cross has upped its gastro clout considerably. Coal Drops Yard covers a wide spectrum of eats: Morty and Bob’s gourmet grilled cheeses, Casa Pastor’s spicy pork tacos, Bodega Rita’s well-stuffed subs, Sons + Daughters’ sandos (chased with Crosstown Doughnuts’ on-point pastries), Dishoom’s Irani delicacies, German Gymnasium’s girthy wursts… Finer dining comes in the form of Levantine inventiveness at Coal Office, authentic Spanish snacking at Barrafina and Caravan’s well-travelled small plates. The Gilbert Scott evokes the golden age of rail travel and Vinoteca is more than just a fine-wine depository. And, tucked away on Canal Reach, Cut + Grind’s site-prepped burgers beat most gourmet options nearby.
You have two bars to choose from at the hotel, but the neighbourhood’s cup overflows when it comes to stylish drinkeries. Across the road, the Marcus Wareing-helmed George’s Bar has a cocktail menu as theatrical as its 19th-century decor. It’s part of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, and on the way to the bathrooms you’ll spy the staircase from the Spice Girls’ Wannabe video. The Drop is a top date-night spot with a frequently refreshed wine list, and overlooking Regent’s Canal is the elegant Chapel Down Gin Works. For suds, Aussie export Little Creatures has five tanks full and Two Tribes pulls pints and plays tunes. There’s more craft action at the Euston Tap, a duo of cider and beer bars set in Victorian gatehouses outside Euston Station.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this cult city stay in King’s Cross and unpacked their shopping spoils from Coal Drops Yard and framed their selfie at Platform 9 and 3/4, a full account of their swish British break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Standard, London…
Finally, us Brits can experience the cool-as-they-come charms of the Standard hotels, as The Standard, London opens its doors in King’s Cross. Yes, after years of enviously eyeing up beautiful-people Americans hang out at Chanel skate rinks, Miu Miu art installations, on-the-DL gigs and wish-you-were-there parties (plus, chow down on CBD gummies from their minibars), at outposts from LA to NYC’s High Line, we can immerse ourselves in the Standard’s not-so-standard world.
And, what a world designer Shawn Hausman has concocted. In keeping with the Standard’s style of adopting its locality’s quirks, his moodboard had swatches of Tube-seat-cover fabric and faded snaps from the 1970s when this Brutalist beauty was Camden Town Hall. Rooms have bold palettes of red, blue and aubergine, with walnut panelling and curvaceous sci-fi-esque mouldings (perhaps a 2001 AD homage from this film producer turned hotel stylist), while suites adopt a breezier style – a nod to the brand’s first hotel, based in Hollywood – some with holy-grail terraces.
The lobby’s lined with shag carpeting and hot-ticket Mexican rooftop eatery Decimo (home of the now-cult tortilla topped with caviar) makes liberal, unironic use of rattan and macramé. Plus, Brit designer Craig Green puts the ‘OH’ in FOH staff, designing their sexy-ninja-like lounge suits (and bathrobes you can buy in the hotel’s online boutique). But, impressive as Hausman’s eye is, this is merely set dressing for the Standard’s into-the-wee-hours shenanigans: mezcal shots and fire-grilled gambas with a side of far-and-wide London views, sultry singing sessions in the Library Lounge’s Sounds Studio, rounds of gherkin and chocolate-stout martinis at street-facing hangout Double Standard, a pub quiz that attracts A-listers… A huge step forward in King’s Cross’s glam-ification – God bless America.