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Kings Cross – the Eliza Doolittle of London town?

Holidays, destinations and transport options. It’s a quality quandary for anybody planning foreign travel.

We’ve got airports coming out of our ears and Heathrow terminal 5 is so fab, that I have been known to get there extra early to make the most of the tax free shopping – infact, a friend and I were once heading for a girls weekend in New York, and very keenly got to T5 so early, that we had to wander around for an hour before they could check us in. Yes, that was a most disappointing hour – swiftly made up for on the other side. Heston Blumenthal opening a restaurant in T5 in the future, surely shows us what consumers are wanting from their travelling experiences – no longer a cucumber sandwich and cup of tea that is hotter than the sun, but champagne bars and michelin star chefs…

But what about our numerous London train terminals?

I’ve decided I’m not going to write too much about King’s Cross – because I want you to go there yourself or at least find a way of travelling from/to there – Eurostar might give you an excuse for that! Kings Cross has seen furious urban transformation in a short space of time after many a year, and a long reputation of being seedy and down trodden. Certainly during the 80’s and 90’s it was known as THE “go to” place for drugs, crime and prostitution. Another spot to give a wide berth to; a real no-man’s land.

This is the old station and entrance as it used to look….

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With several buildings around there left derelict and empty since the 50’s, it would have been easy for “purveyors” of contraband goods and services to find little hideaway spots to sell their wares for decades. Planned small scale regeneration projects never took off for many years because of this, until a little tweak in our railway infrastructure heralded a new dawn. Yes, I realise that sounds very dramatic, but that is effectively what took place. High speed rail in 2000 followed by the Eurostar in 2007 meant a change in the landscape, cleaning up the area and giving confidence to new businesses to come in. Eurostar has changed the way we are seen anyway, and linked us to mainland Europe, and you only have to look at some ticket prices to see how accessible we are. Sitting on a train at certain times of the day or week shows you exactly how many weekly commuters there are too – working in London and living abroad.

The regeneration of this area is profound, and whilst other areas in London are being revamped and rebuilt but still hanging onto their gritty roots, Kings Cross is splendid, grand and elegant and has shed all traces of it’s wayward past. I guess it’s the Eliza Doolittle of the capital.

The interior and entrance now….

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Going there today, you would not have known about it’s reputation. These days, along with Heathrow Terminal 5, it is absolutely an icon of how we welcome international travellers and how we are connected to the rest of Europe. I would suggest it is another indicator of London’s rising profile on the international stage. Who needs to faff about at an airport? Just rock up to Kings Cross and get on a train, stepping off seemingly moments later at any number of European destinations. It gives you a sense of not actually “travelling” but just being in a different location and part of something larger.

Just behind the station, a short stroll away is Granary Square. It is a really wonderful place with lots and lots of delicious, enticing al fresco eating options and open air screens showing Wimbledon games and quite possibly, (probably?), a nice spot to go and catch up with the World cup matches later this year on a hot day whilst catching some sunshine on a deckchair.

 

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CARAVAN is a huge, bustling, energetic place to have coffee and eat and drink with family and friends….

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The Grain Store next door is another place that is similarly enticing….

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The Great Northern Hotel which may have been frequented by ladies of the night and their clients in bygone days is ABSOLUTELY stunning…

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Even within the station, there are some great places to be distracted whilst waiting for your train to Paris or Leeds…

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These general photos give you an idea of how much work is STILL going on in the area. They couldn’t GIVE away property here a few years ago, you can imagine the premiums one has to pay now. There is a viewing platform at one end of Granary square with plans laid out for the area, so you can get a 360 degree view of how the future looks over here.

 

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This is a small section of a London map but you can see the white bit in the centre is called “The Granary complex and goods yard”.

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It’s a pretty chunky portion of the area, so one can imagine how fantastic it will be when it is completed. Three bedroom flats near the station are being marketed at over £1.3million and there are lots more under development. I suspect these will be snapped up by foreign investors who lead international, jet set lifestyles – with Regents Park to the west, Bloomsbury to the south and hip cool and happening Shoreditch to the East it seems to me a perfect spot to park some money – if you have a few cool million to spare.

It’s really worth spending some time walking around here if you get the chance and enjoy and watch as it grows and morphs into a self contained centre for glamorous urban living.

If you are going on holiday this week – bon vacances!

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Links:
http://www.gnhlondon.com
http://www.kingscross.co.uk

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