London Montage

St Pancras International Reinaissance Hotel

Jonathan introduced us to Melissa, our guide for the tour of the St Pancras International  Renaissance Hotel, who then relayed the story of the hotel with enthusiasm and, I thought, adoration.

The hotel, now owned by the Marriot Group, was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and was opened in May 1873 as the Midland Grand Hotel to accommodate rail travellers through the St Pancras Rail Station.  It was lavishly built as an innovative Victorian 5-star hotel with 4 floors, a sweeping double stairway of some 115 stairs, and a clock tower, incorporating a number of technological ‘gadgets’, for example, it was the first hotel to boast a pair of ‘hydraulic ascending chambers’, one for the guests and the other for their luggage; an electric bell calling system which allowed guests to summon service by pushing a button; toilets that flushed and, in 1899, it was fitted with the first revolving door in Britain; the hotel even had a ‘Ladies’ Smoking Room’ which was the first public room in Europe in which women were permitted to smoke!

The hotel was then used by film and TV crews to make films such as Operation Crossbow (1965), Batman (1969), Shirley Valentine (1989), 102 Dalmations (2000), Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) and Batman Begins (2005); the Spice Girls’ first hit ‘Wannabe’ was shot on the sweeping staircase of the hotel.

Then, after St Pancras Station was chosen as the new terminus for the cross-Channel Eurostar service, thoughts turned to the renovation of the Midland Grand Hotel. Work commenced to turn it into a high-quality hotel with luxury loft-style apartments on the upper floors.  Following restoration exceeding £200million On 14 March 2011 the hotel, now known as the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, re-opened its doors to the public.

Linda Sargent, LDS Virtual Services