Okay, I admit it. I’m an anorak.
I’m crazy about train stations, and when St Pancras International opened after its long-awaited refurbishment, I visited late night on a Sunday on an architectural pilgrimage with camera and tripod.
I was honoured as a photographer to have one of my photographs of St. Pancras printed onto a large poster and installed into a 2m high display on the concourse of the station itself and featured in the Metro last year for a Valentine’s promotion. (http://www.matsmithphotography.com/photolife-blog/mat-smith-photography-in-metro)
I had the most glorious time admiring its historic beauty, the gorgeous monument to timekeeping that is the iconic Dent clock commissioned as a replacement for the original as part of the Eurostar refurb, the magnificent statue “The Meeting Place” by British artist Paul Day, and the Betjeman statue by British sculptor Martin Jennings; I wasn’t the only one. At this time the station was filled with single old men wandering around gazing in awe with their cameras. It was a bizarre but special night for me.
Since then I have been back a number of times, not to travel, but just to enjoy.
The St Pancras Grand Brasserie, Oyster and Champagne Bar (Searcys at St Pancras) is a fabulous place to enjoy a glass of bubbles. If you sit along the concourse adjacent to platforms, the booths are designed like little train carriages, and when it’s cold you can even grab a complimentary blanket and turn-on the seat heaters using a button below the table. It’s one of my favourite places to drink Champagne.
The station also has a Carluccio’s if you are that way inclined, and the station ground floor concourse has a whole host of places to shop, offering everything from precious gifts, useful travel purchases, M&S Simply Food, restaurants and decent small cafés – something for every budget.
St. Pancras is a destination in itself, a wonderful large open space when you are feeling London-claustrophobia, a place where you can pretend that modern train travel is still romantic, and a useful drop-in for convenience shopping when in the area.
And if you are an architect geek like me, you will love the stunning refurbishment of this historic building.