We wanted to go somewhere a bit special for our host, Sunna’s, birthday.
Carla chose Gilbert Scott in the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, because it’s quintessentially British and very, very beautiful.
Before I get to the dinner, I have to tell you the story behind this famous British hotel.
In 1865, the Midland Railway Company held a competition for the design of a 150-bed hotel to be constructed next to the St Pancras railway station, which was still under construction at the time.
Out of eleven applications, the design by George Gilbert Scott won. His design called for a 300 room hotel which was much bigger and a hell of a lot more expensive than the original specifications.
The east wing opened in 1873, and the rest followed in Spring 1876. The hotel was expensive, with costly (and totally necessary in my opinion) fixtures including a grand staircase, rooms with gold leaf walls and a fireplace in every room. London does get rather cold.
For it’s time it had some cool features, such as hydraulic lifts, concrete floors (which are back in fashion), revolving doors and fireproof floor constructions, though none of the rooms had bathrooms. Um – why?
It closed in 1935, because it was simply too costly to maintain. Maybe it was due to the army of servants needed to carry the chamber pots?
After closing as a hotel, the building was renamed St Pancras Chambers and used as railway offices but in the 1980s it failed fire safety regulations and was shut down.
In the 1990s the exterior was restored and made structurally sound at a cost of around £10 million.
After remaining a national embarrassment for decades, in 2004, permission was granted for the building to be redeveloped into a new hotel. Hooray!
Long story short (was it short?), the hotel was redeveloped and now consists of 244 bedrooms, 2 restaurants, 2 bars, a health and leisure centre, a ballroom, and 20 meeting and function rooms.
It reopened to guests in 2011, with the official opening on May 5, exactly 138 years after its original opening in 1873.
I’m so very glad it’s now being put to good use.
You might also recognise (or not?) that this is in fact the place where the Spice Girls filmed their video clip for “Wannabe”? Honestly please tell me I’m not the only one who noticed this?
The former ‘Coffee Room’ is now home to the Gilbert Scott restaurant, headed by chef Marcus Wareing. Not a bad sized coffee room if you ask me?
We were there for dinner, but I’d love to return on the weekend for their famous brunch, complete with a pianist. Now that would be very British of me, don’t you think darling?
The room is nothing short of spectacular, with Victorian finishings – pillars, copious cornicing and large windows.
After drooling over the architecture for a while, we got to work on the menu.
Thank god it’s not stuffy fine dining.
Just the best-of-the-British menu showcasing imaginative dishes such as crispy pig’s head with pickled cockles and sea herbs or more traditional favourites such as battered haddock & chips.
We started with pre-dinner cocktails.
It’s not on the menu, but they make a mean lychee martini.
For starters we went for the quail.
The lamb meat balls were definitely the stand-out. FYI they include these in their super affordable lunch special so what are you waiting for?
For mains we ordered the chicken kiev.
After mains we took a bit of a breather.
Do you think glasses look good on me?
Ready for dessert (they call it pudding here right?), we continued the British theme with traditional desserts.
We went for the toffee cheesecake.
And the trifle.
We used a candle to sing Sunna happy birthday.
Then we all fought over the leftovers.
As soon as we finished, the waiter brought out a little treat.
So we sung Happy Birthday a second time.
You’d think they would have bought out 4 trifles instead of 2, so we have to fight over those too.
After dinner we retired to the equally impressive bar at the entrance.
A gorgeous bell chandelier hangs from the ornate roof.
There are loads of tables with leather seats and some interesting wall art.
I loved the beautiful bar and bar stools.
We settled down and got to work on choosing our poison.
Before we got the chance, the waiter brought us 4 complimentary cocktails to start us off.
Which was lovely.
Now…. It’s no secret that I have become rather fond of cocktails on my London adventure.
I’m not going to lie, I am tempted to try & sip the screen….
Hmmm maybe it’s time I called it a night?
Anisa – The Macadames. xx