I have just come back this evening from the St. Pancras Hotel – which opened today. Not being the sort of person with time on their hands to do the sort of things in London that one should, I never made it on one of the tours while this veritable old lady was being restored. So I had to wait until this evening – when the hotel opened its doors again for a second time.
Will, Maggie and I went to investigate.
Have you been? Well, I was unprepared. The Grand Staircase has to be one of the most unsettling spaces I have ever been in. One of the things about architects is that they are meant, well, to be able to understand the plan of a building when they are in it. Not this one. Vast corridors stretch into the never-never. Other grand echoing rooms curve away as if to no where. Cast iron buttresses fly across the vaulted hall. Suffering, as I do, from minor (well, major, really) vertigo, I could go nowhere near the edge without feeling sick to the pit of my stomach. The manic, relentless space is, I suppose, the apogee of the Gothic imagination.
Betjeman wrote that St. Pancras Chambers is ‘too beautiful and too romantic to survive’. He is – thank goodness – wrong. But I cannot help but wonder….. if it is just too terrifying to sleep in?
Good luck…. You have been warned!