- WHERE TO STAY
- ATTRACTIONS + TICKETS
- PUBLIC TRANSPORT
- CRUISE PORTS
Kings Cross and St Pancras have gone through a major regeneration over recent years. St Pancras is home to the Eurostar and Kings Cross is home to Harry Potters famous platform 9 ¾ giving rail visitors their first taste of London. Using St Pancras or Kings Cross stations you can gain access to all of London and beyond, making this popular London area an excellent base to explore from.
King's Cross and St Pancras are at the eastern end of the Euston Road that defines this hotel strip. A couple of decades ago this area had a reputation as one of the seedier districts of London. That is now not the case, so if you read anything alluding to this, it is well out of date.
The area around Kings Cross and St Pancras stations is still primarily a cheap hotel district. Opposite the stations (on the other side of the Euston Road) is Argyle Square. Nearly every building around the square and the immediate streets around it are simple, cheap independent budget hotels. Of their type, this is one of the best districts in London to explore for this type of accommodation.
With the redevelopment of St Pancras Station and the opening of the grand 5-star Renaissance Hotel at St Pancras Station, it's not all about budget accommodation. As with any major transport hub you should be able to easily find an accommodation type that perfectly suits your needs and budget. Kings Cross and St Pancras have various hostels, bed and breakfast, mid-range and luxury hotels on offer. Prices will range from around £50-£300 or more, but you will find ample choice to select from.
Kings Cross St Pancras Underground Station is London's busiest with six Underground lines radiating out in all directions. This makes the area such a popular place to stay, as getting to all parts of London is very simple. As St Pancras is the terminus for the Eurostar many of London's visitors will arrive in London here, therefore staying in Kings Cross and St Pancras is an excellent option for the Eurostar visitor.
There is a definite bias towards the budget sector here so there are lots of services geared to this market. It's easy to find a laundrette and cheap places to eat for example. With thousands of people passing through the stations daily, many looking for "food on the go" you will be overwhelmed with the choice for fast food and snacks. These are supplied by all the global franchises and some local independents.
With the redevelopment of St Pancras Station and the opening of the grand 5-star Renaissance Hotel at St Pancras Station, luxury is no longer hard to find in this area. The area has certainly gone more upmarket in the last few years. Especially in St Pancras Station and the Renaissance Hotel, where there are some very luxurious places to linger, including a champagne bar at St Pancras Station.
There are no major attractions situated directly in the area so the majority of people staying here go no further than walking between their hotel and the Euston Road and the two stations.
The only reason for you to do any different is to enjoy the architectural splendour of the gothic St Pancras station, something Harry Potter fans will know of as it was used iin scenes from the film. The Harry Potter 9 ¾ platform at Kings Cross and the British Library are well worth visiting too. Other than this, the area is best used as a base to explore London from.
A few hundred yards west of St Pancras Station along the Euston Road, past the British Library is Euston Station. As you walk along the Euston Road there is a slow but sure change in the feel of the area.
At Kings Cross, you'll experience traffic gridlock, real city hustle and bustle, fast food outlets and plenty of budget hotels with the occasional luxury hotel. By the time you get to Euston the situation reverses. Traffic will have eased, it will feel more relaxed and spacious. Euston hotels are mostly 4-star hotels and occasional budget options.
Around the area of Euston Station is a major hospital, medical schools and the London University. With so many students, the bias is still towards value for money, but the surroundings are more spaced out and elegant (once you get off the Euston Road) with garden squares and fine Georgian buildings.
Euston Station is the hub around which this district ticks. When compared with Kings Cross and St Pancras there are fewer shops and restaurants outside the station, though there are plenty of traditional pubs.
Buy any time, travel any time
Anytime fares are fully flexible tickets, with no time restrictions on when you can travel. With an Anytime ticket you can also break your journey at stations along the route of travel. For short journeys in the London area you normally get the same fare as if you booked in advance. For long inter-city fares, buying tickets like this can be very, very expensive. We recommend sticking to the time you decide to travel.
Buy any time, travel off-peak
These tickets may require you to travel at specific times of day, days of the week or on a specific route. Where there is more than one Off-Peak fare for a journey, the cheaper fare with more restrictions will be called Super Off-Peak. The times that constitute off-peak are very variable, there can even be different times for off-peak between the same stations in different directions, so always check first.
Buy in advance
For longer distances, travelling by rail can be very expensive when purchasing standard fares, often more expensive than flying. Advance purchase tickets on these longer distances therefore can offer great savings. These are subject to availability hence limited numbers and can be purchased online to collect from a ticket machine in key railway stations like Kings Cross or booked at a ticket office.
All three stations have their respective Underground Stations beneath the railway station which you descend to from within the station itself.
All have coffee shops, burger outlets, bakery, pizza slices, doughnuts, cookies and bars. You'll find a pharmacy (Boots), a newsstand or two and outlets where you can buy sandwiches, cold drinks etc.
Each has a manned left luggage office, run by the Excess Baggage Company. Toilets and baby changing is available for which there is a small charge and you will need coins.
Showers are available at Kings Cross. The Wi-Fi is provided on a pay as you go basis (though free at St Pancras). Passport photo machines are also available.
For most visitors, the London Underground is the way into and out of the area. Using the Underground, you should be able to get to most places in central London within 20 minutes.
If you are a night owl, there are many night buses that connect the area with the centre of London through the night. It’s not too long a walk to the West End entertainment district. Covent Garden can be walked to in around 20-30-minutes.
A popular option for visitors to get orientated with London is to use the hop on, hop off tour buses. There are two major operators, these are Original London Tour and the Big Bus. Both visit Kings Cross, St Pancras & Euston with connector services that interchange with the main tour routes in the centre of London. The Original London Tour has a terminus of one of their main routes outside the Royal National Hotel, several hundred yards south of Euston Station on the road to Russell Square.
Kings Cross, St Pancras & Euston have no major attractions within the hotel area. It is considered a good base from where you can travel to all that London has to offer, quickly and efficiently.
However, it would be a real shame if you stayed in the area and didn't visit the British Library on the Euston Road. This can be found halfway between St Pancras and Euston Stations. Like all of London's free attractions, when compared, it suffers from the lack of marketing budget that the more commercial venues exploit.
The major source of interest for visitors is The Sir John Ritblat Gallery which is a museum containing some fascinating documents. There is truly something here for every single visitor.
For US visitors there is the Magna Carta, original music scores from Mozart to the Beatles, ancient maps, ancient bibles, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, letters from Charles Darwin to Sigmund Freud and more.
The British Library is a modern building and the exhibits are well presented in a spacious, comfortable environment. You can even download apps to help you enjoy the contents.
The other attraction in the area (also free) is at Kings Cross Station, home of Harry Potter's platform 9 ¾. After it found such fame in the Harry Potter film, the station authorities entered into the spirit of things and created their own entrance for platform 9 ¾. Today, a steady stream of visitors makes the pilgrimage for this short photo opportunity.
Of the major attractions, the nearest is the British Museum, just a 10-15-min walk away. Like the British Library, it's free entrance. The British Museum is vast. Staying nearby, you can visit it in bite-size chunks of an hour or two at a time, perhaps using the evening opening sessions.