Thursday, 26 May 2011
Booking Office Bar, St Pancras
Restored to its original 1870s splendour, Gilbert Scott’s gothic fantasy, St. Pancras, is a triumph. Occupying the cathedral-like booking hall, its new hotel bar - in the hands of Marriott - is, in parts, a visual TRAIN CRASH. Was the room stylists' inspiration an ailing Derby department store's sale brochure? From a catalogue of ugliness, I give you: bland shelving units to better display mimsy glassware as collected by OAPs in mock-Tudor bungalows; dullsville leather seating groups even Crossroads Motel mightn’t fancy; boxy metal fixtures to scar the beauteous face of the original ornate ticket office; portraits of what I take to be the cast of Downton Abbey. Hid-y-us! Staff uniforms? Hello, InterCity circa Callaghan’s Winter of Discontent! Stevie Wonder, frankly, could do better on a budget at BHS. Cocktails? Oh yes, those. Our scatty, uninformed waitress delivers creamy Soyer au Champagne, an interesting one-off never-to-be-repeaterd experience and Morning Glory, fair whisky fizz at £8. The bar champions an ambitious list of high-Victorian recipes. But will modern palates reconnect with arcane sugary punches, quaint cups and a load of old cobblers - the phrase on my lips as we escape to Marcus Wareing’s superior David Collins'designed bar at the Gilbert Scott next door. Thank God I didn't book a return ticket, is all I have to add about this missed opportunity to showcase British design brilliance.
Booking Office Bar, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Rd London NW1 7841 3540