After a six year, £200 million restoration project by the Manhattan Loft Corporation, the former Midland Grand Hotel building has finally re-opened to the public as the 5-star St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel, part of the Marriott hotel group.
The building also has 67 new apartments, occupying the second floor upwards, with price tags starting at several hundred thousand pounds, up to £10 million for a penthouse. Immediately next door to the hotel, and occupying the same building, is a new restaurant, The Gilbert Scott, serving traditional English food and run by Marcus Wareing.
The original Midland Grand Hotel was designed by the prolific George Gilbert Scott (1811 – 1878), who won a competition with his Victorian Gothic design in 1865. Scott’s other designs includeLichfield Cathedral, St Albans Cathedral and Canterbury Cathedral, below.
The Midland Grand Hotel operated from 1873 to 1935, when an ailing balance sheet forced its closure. The building was subsequently renamed St Pancras Chambers and used as British Rail offices, before being scheduled for demolition in the late 1960s. It was saved and Grade-1 listed thanks to a campaign by the Victorian Society and Poet Laureate John Betjeman (1906 – 1984). The facade was restored in the early 1990s.
The space that was once a driveway for carriages and taxi cabs has been transformed into a comfortable, glass-roofed reception lounge (above and below). Guests and visitors can enjoy tea, coffee and cake as they soak up the ambiance, or go to the old Booking Office immediately adjacent, for drinks or a meal.
For those who can’t afford to stay at the hotel (its 207 rooms and 38 suites range from £250 – £10,000/night), the next best thing is to take a £20 tour of the hotel with the resident historian, Royden Stock. Tours generally last over an hour, and finish with tea, coffee and pastries, or champagne, depending on the time of day. Click here for the tour brochure and booking details.
First stop on our tour was a conference room, immediately behind the reception hall. The bulk of the hotel’s rooms are in a new, red-brick block visible through the rear windows of this long room. Royden explained in detail the methods behind the design for the new addition, including the cantilevering of the entire street facade, and the strict guidelines imposed by English Heritage.
This peacock mural, below left, is an original artwork from the Victorian era. It is flanked on either side by two reproductions, in the hall leading to the Ladies’ Smoking Room. The chandelier, below right, hangs under intricate ceiling plasterwork and is meant to emulate a drizzling shower head.
Fireplaces can no longer be used for fires, due to health and safety regulations, so all are now fitted with specially-designed covers.
Original corridors were designed to be wide enough to allow two Victorian ladies wearing ball gowns and bustles to comfortably pass one another.
The wallpaper in the Gilbert Scott suite, below centre, is an exact reproduction of the original – it was manufactured using traditional methods, at a cost of £47,000.
Below is the intricate ceiling work in the Gilbert Scott suite, which is not yet fully renovated. The completed room will be available for £3,000/night.
An antique sideboard in the Gilbert Scott suite.
A dining table in the Gilbert Scott suite.
Plasterwork in the room leading to the Ladies’ Smoking Room. Here, wedding receptions can be held, and modern art belonging to the Manhattan Loft Corporation’s head, Harry Handelsman, is displayed.
The Midland Grand Hotel featured the world’s first Ladies’ Smoking Room, where women were allowed to light up in public. Today it retains that title, although no smoking is allowed, and the room can now be used for meetings and weddings. The ceiling design, below, was painstakingly stripped back, scientifically analysed, traced, coated in fire-resistant material, and re-painted with more exact lines to fit the curve of the walls.
Below left, is a restored mural, The Garden of Deduit – Romance de la Rose, by Scottish painter Thomas Wallis Hay. This can be found on the first floor landing, facing the Grand Staircase. Below right, is the Ladies’ Smoking Room, also on the first floor, which overlooks Euston Road and whose central windows open out to a terrace.
These are original floor tiles adjoining the Grand Staircase.
Arches off the Grand Staircase. There are 2,300 fleurs-de-lys stenciled on the walls, based on a 1901 pattern.
The most stunning attraction in the hotel is the Grand Staircase. The carpet is a recreation of the original Wilton Axminster design, and was deliberately faded to complement the revitalised colour scheme.
The ironwork originally hid piping for the gas lamps, and is now purely decorative.
A glimpse of the Grand Staircase’s cathedral-like ceiling.
Clever plasterwork mimics steel and timber supports, but in reality the entire staircase is cantilevered.
Photos by Sven Klinge
(please credit photographer & website when using these photos)
For more photographs of the hotel, past and present, click here.
For a short film about the new hotel, see below.
For a look at what the hotel before its latest revamp, check out the videos below.