Hip US brand the Standard opened its first overseas outpost in King’s Cross in July last year. The group already has properties in New York, Los Angeles and Miami and has since launched its first resort, in the Maldives.
Originally founded by André Balazs – owner of New York’s the Mercer and London’s Chiltern Firehouse – it is part of Standard International, which also owns Austin-based boutique chain Bunkhouse. The group also plans to open Standard hotels in Paris, Milan, Lisbon, Mexico City, Chicago, Bangkok, Phuket, Jakarta, Hua Hin and Pattaya.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Housed in the former Camden Town Hall Annexe, a 1974 Brutalist office block, the retro curves of its concrete façade are a striking sight. Three floors have been built on to the structure while a scarlet pill-shaped external lift to Decimo restaurant on the top (tenth) level has been added to the frontage, and a public garden reinstated at the back.
Inside, the bold interiors – by Shawn Hausman Design, responsible for most of the Standard properties as well as the Balazs-owned Chateau Marmont in Hollywood – pay homage to the seventies period, with an eye-catching colour scheme and transport-inspired nods to the location in the guestrooms.
Entering through revolving doors, on the left is the timber-clad reception area, where funkily uniformed desk staff work in front of a geometric tile feature wall by ceramics artist Lubna Chowdhary, and to the right a seating area with views across to King’s Cross St Pancras station.
A walkway ahead leads to the Library Lounge, the heart of the ground-floor public areas. It’s a great-looking, low-lit space with slouchy leather sofas and tables that attract laptop-wielding types by day and cocktail drinkers by night, while cool tunes play in the background.
This is the site of the former Camden Council Library, and the hotel has gleefully paid tribute to this with shelves of books compiled under categories such as “Order” and “Chaos”, “Hope” and “Darkness”, “Sound” and “Vision”, and “Adult relationships”. You could happily spend some time browsing (and cackling at) the second-hand tomes that the in-house librarian has carefully sourced.
To the left of the space is all-day restaurant Isla, off which is a large outdoor terrace with heaters and lots of greenery (look out for the original Banksy on the wall), while on the right is Sounds Studio – a recording booth that hosts weekly live music, DJ sets and talks – and at the rear is Double Standard bar. Staff throughout are friendly and helpful.
WHERE IS IT?
Directly across from the St Pancras Renaissance hotel on Euston Road, and steps from King’s Cross St Pancras rail and underground station and St Pancras International for the Eurostar. Its entrance is on Argyle Street.
The 266 rooms and suites are in 11 categories – Single (13 sqm), Cosy Core (windowless, 19-26 sqm), Queen’s Standard (16-19 sqm), Queen of Queens (20-25 sqm), King’s Standard (25-33 sqm), Double Standard (36 sqm with two double beds), King’s Superior (33-37 sqm), King of Kings (32-39 sqm, ninth floor with floor-to-ceiling windows), King’s Terrace (28-37 sqm, on the eighth floor with outdoor baths), Suite Spot (80 sqm, ninth floor) and the two 68 sqm eighth-floor Suite Terraces, which have a further 62-64 sqm of outdoor space with superb views.
Most categories feature red, blue and purple colour schemes, with geometric bed throws by Wallace Sewell, designer of the seat fabric on the Tube. Eighth- and ninth-floor categories feature light wood accents, as do the Cosy Cores (pictured below), which also have mood lighting and “Garden” wet room areas with planters to make the most of the windowless space.
All come with brown Craig Green robes, tea and coffee facilities, well-stocked minibars, safes, free wifi, Bang and Olufsen Bluetooth speakers, 49-inch TVs (55 inches in suites), either desks or tables to work at, UK/EU plug sockets and USB ports. Complimentary water is provided in glass bottles, while most of the toiletries (made for the brand by Italy’s Davines) are refillable.
Guests in King of Kings rooms and above can avail of Stutterheim raincoats, a cleaning service for your trainers, turndown, minibar extras, and a free personal pick-up from the Eurostar terminal.
The bed in my fifth-floor King’s Superior was placed in the centre of the room, looking directly out at the neo-gothic St Pancras Renaissance. There was also bay window seating for enjoying the view.
The open-plan bathroom to the rear of the room, tiled in pale pink and deep blue, had both a walk-in shower and a freestanding tub (most rooms in categories lower than this have a shower only). Curves featured heavily in the design, from the ceiling panelling to the wardrobe handles, reflecting the façade of the building. The soundproofing was excellent – I heard very little despite being right on busy Euston Road – and the Italian bedlinen was lovely.
FOOD AND DRINK
A key focus for the property. Both Isla and Double Standard are led by executive chef Adam Rawson. All-day restaurant Isla offers British coastal cuisine with a focus on seasonal produce. An à la carte breakfast is available here.
Double Standard (pictured below) is a lively street-facing spot serving craft beers and cocktails along with a menu of pub fare and “NYC dive bar food”. In an area in which good nightlife options have proliferated in the past few years, it has certainly succeeded in making a name for itself as more than a hotel bar – I’ve been in a couple of times on a Saturday evening and it has been buzzing.
The external lift sadly wasn’t working when I stayed so I took the duller internal route up to Decimo on the tenth floor. Launched in October and open for dinner, it’s led by chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias, whose two Bristol restaurants have Michelin stars.
It serves live-fire Spanish and Mexican dishes in a vast, glamorous space encompassing two bars and various dining areas. The fact it wishes to be known for its food rather than its 360-degree views is reflected by the fact that swishing macramé curtains partly obscure the London landmarks visible through the windows.
We had an excellent meal here, starting with a range of snacks including potent manchego quesadilla (£4 each), earthy cauliflower taco (£5), and sweet, smoky marinated red peppers finely chopped tartare-style (£5; pictured), before moving on to a punchy crab and jalapeno aguachile (Mexican ceviche; £22) and beautifully cooked monkfish (£18). Sides of charred leek with romesco (£8) and crunchy fried potatoes with aliolo (£6) were also spot-on.
We finished with two bijou desserts – a delightful set cream, arbequina olive oil, sea salt and Spanish clementine, and a well-judged chocolate tart (£11 for the two). The atmosphere was warm and social and the service knowledgeable and attentive. A bar next to Decimo with roof terrace access will open in the future.
No standalone venues, but the Suite Terrace can host gatherings of up to 40 people, and Decimo’s semi-private dining space can hold 44 guests sit-down or 50 for cocktails and canapés, with larger parties accommodated on request.
There’s a decent-sized 24-hour gym in the basement with Technogym kit and Peloton bikes (a spare bike can be placed in your room if you are staying on the eighth or ninth floor).
Fantastic to look at and fun to stay in, this is an excellent addition to the London hotel scene that should suit the business traveller catching the Eurostar just as much as it does the capital’s party crowd.
Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in January started from £219 for a Cosy Core room.
10 Argyle Street; tel +44 (0)20 3981 8888; standardhotels.com/london