George’s Bar — London, UK
All eyes are on Kings Cross right now, or the Kings Cross Quarter as the former brownfield-site-cum-clubland north of the station is becoming known. Reincarnated as a buzzing creative hub with shopping, drinking and dining also thrown in the mix, masterminded by the likes of Heatherwick Studio and Tom Dixon, it’s no wonder existing destinations nearby are upping their game. One of the first to emerge from a refresh is the imposing watering hole of The Gilbert Scott restaurant at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel on Euston Road.
Rebranded as George’s Bar, chef-patron Marcus Wareing is wisely future-proofing, since competition in the hotel bar stakes is set to intensify with the nearby Great Northern Hotel about to launch a new bar and the first UK outpost of the hip US hotel chain The Standard opening just opposite on Euston Road next year.
The monumental proportions and Victorian Gothic decoration make The St Pancras Hotel feel more like the Palace of Westminster than a hotel. So much so that you half expect a Bobby and a bag-scanner frisking on arrival. Barry and Pugin’s design was in fact the inspiration for George Gilbert Scott, the architect who designed the building in the 1860s. No doubt turning in his grave when his masterpiece became best known as the video backdrop for The Spice Girls hit ‘Wannabe’.
You can bypass this 1990s flashback by using the Euston Road entrance to the bar, as opposed to accessing via the hotel. David Collins Studio, which designed the original, returned to transform the space again, working in league with English Heritage to restore the elaborate decoration. In particular the richly ornate ceiling and wall frieze which dictates the dominant palette of burgundy and teal, elevated throughout by gold leaf and brass accents.
The interior references the tradition of European Grand Cafés, with warm metals, leather upholstery, banquette seating, and gold leaf mirror glass table tops lit by small table lamps. Like most Victorian Gothic buildings, this slender, soaring space has ecclesiastical overtones, which David Collins Studio has emphasised with a pair of imposing chandeliers featuring a constellation of giant bells – the perfect complement for the orgival arched stone windows. This bell shape is echoed in the shades of bespoke floor lamps and the fringed, burgundy lamps above the bar. Two large olive trees introduce a more intimate scale to the room.
George’s bar serves wines from the restaurant next door, a Brut champagne cuvée created by Wareing with Gosset champagne, craft beers, homemade tonic infusions, and cocktails with a signature drink showcased each month. March 2019 sees the launch of the Bee Keeper, a blend of lavender infused gin, honey from Wareing’s Melfort Farm in Kent, sloe gin, hibiscus and elderflower. §