The Brutalist 70s eggbox-style architecture just seemed to shout “what you looking at?”.
Having been a frequent traveller through King’s Cross St Pancras for many years, both for the northern line and International cross-Channel travel with Eurostar, I became quite accustomed to what I once considered to be the ugliest example of seventies modernism in town.
The bright white Brutalist 70s eggbox-style architecture just seemed to shout “what you looking at?”.
I am talking about the building that The Standard hotel now inhabits. It stands there in shocking contrast to the fairytale turrets and pink stone of Sir Gilbert Scott’s Gothic Kings Cross on the opposite side of Euston Road.
My view has softened since then. I now recognise this to be an intriguing piece of historic architecture that looks a little regal crowned as it is by a glass extension at its top.
After all, this was once home to the Camden Town Hall Annex formerly known as St Pancras Town Hall until 1965. It was eventually made a Grade II listed building in 1996.
Indeed, The Standard, an American import, is nothing of the sort. It was designed in collaboration with Shawn Hausman Design, gurus in concept design and with its upside-down logo, there is really nothing for a traditionalist to hang their hat on.
There’s plenty of geometric styling from the small reception right down to the carpets in the hallways whose playful geometric shapes reminded me of the art room at a nursery I attended all those moons ago.
The Standard attracts a melody of millennials and slightly older funsters. Its atmospheric library room, alfresco eating, and rooftop bar make the hotel a destination in itself and with jazzy music, a bevvy of celebrity DJs belting out toe-tapping funky disco music, a heritage of podcasting on culture and lifestyle topics, it makes total sense.
No doubt when cross-Channel Eurostar services start up again the hotel will see their Gallic clientele returning.
The Standard has 266 rooms ranging from Cosy Core (windowless) rooms to terraced suites with outdoor bathtubs at the top with floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Though they differ in size and shape the one word that unites them is “funkydelic”.
Mine was a King of Kings double with a nice view over King’s Cross clock tower. It’s a big room with plain white walls and a huge double bed at its centre atop a blue carpet. The bed blanket offers the colours, red, blue and black block geometric colours created by Wallace Sewell. Incidentally, they are the company behind TfL’s – Transport for London – fabrics.
There’s a flat-screen tv as well as a workstation with retro lamps for some laptop action underneath which there is a fully stocked mini-bar. There’s also a drawer that reveals a cocktail shaker and all the accruements to make a cocktail.
The one word that unites the rooms is “funkydelic”.
Surprisingly, there is no Nespresso machine, though a kettle hides humbly behind the streamlined red door of the wardrobe.
The stylish bathroom of dark pink and black tiles offers a wide (if slightly short) bath and a spacious shower. Bathroom robes are unusually green-hued.
I enjoyed the complete silence of the room – no ambient noise at all – and I was able to control the temperature for comfort.
Food and Drink
The Library Lounge, a nod to the past where a functional library once stood, is an atmospheric space dotted with lush foilage and fireplaces to enjoy a bite or just cocktails while reading one of the many books on the shelves. I slipped into a comfy Saporiti leather sofa with prosecco on hand while flicking through a book about successful relationships.
The restaurant Isla, its terrace and lobby lounge all seem to blend imperceptibly into a single social space.
Double Standard, just around a short corner is their long bar and terrace to enjoy hearty fare including burgers and beers.
When the sun shines it has to be The Rooftop. It has a dedicated lift whose red exterior can be seen by passing traffic as it rises and descends. Dining here is limited to a hot dog and a small range of cocktails on draft, but who cares, sipping a spicy Margarita while devouring those rooftop views is quite something.
Breakfast can be a croissant, fruit salad, avocado on sour bread or even a full English. I opted for room service for one of those luxurious breakfast-in-bed moments.
The Standard has a 24-hour front desk, gym and room service as well as a very friendly concierge service. There is free wi-fi throughout.
Be sure to check out the hotel’s music and culture shindigs that happen regularly.
Double rooms start from £249 per night.
For travellers, the biggest enticement is Kings Cross St Pancras bang opposite. Nearby there’s a myriad of trendy restaurants and bars, especially around Coal Drops Yard.