Travel writer and There We Go blogger, Katie Gregory, stayed at the iconic St Pancras Renaissance Hotel with her family to try out the Railway Children Return afternoon tea and stay package. Here’s what she thought of it…
Like so many landmarks in London, the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel was one of those buildings we’d admired from a distance time and time again, but never stepped foot inside. So when we were invited to try out the hotel’s latest family afternoon tea package – launched to tie in with the new Railway Children Returns movie – the answer from everyone was a resounding yes.
We visited on a Sunday and hopped off the train at King’s Cross Station to make our way to the hotel entrance on Euston Road. You can access the hotel via a lift in St Pancras International station, but we wanted to see the red-brick façade – all extravagant gothic spires and sweeping arches – in all its glory. That means arriving from the road, and it’s well worth the extra steps.
The first part of the hotel you find yourself in is The Hansom bar – once the cobbled entrance to the train station, where hansom cabs would drop off their passengers. These days it’s all marble-topped tables, plush sofas and ornate ironwork that stretches up to a vaulted glass ceiling. The kids were soon fed up with me taking photos, so we were grateful when a waitress arrived armed with Railway Children-themed colouring packs and crayons to keep them busy, as well as little Queen’s Guard teddies to keep them company.
The Railway Children Return Afternoon Tea Package
Our afternoon tea experience started with a plate of dainty finger sandwiches delivered to our table. There are two versions of the menu – one for adults, and one for kids – and the main difference is the addition of a crab roll for the grown-ups. We also had a mini Welsh rarebit, a ham sandwich, and The Hansom’s take on homity – potato bread with spring onion and cheddar. The hotel had no issues serving one of our menus gluten-free, and the whole thing was delicious.
Once we’d snaffled our savouries we moved on to the sweet course, which included a very cute station clock macaroon and an intriguing green apple mousse. The kids were miffed that their menu was slightly more pared-back – crucially, minus the mousse – but we all ended up trying a bit of everyone else’s.
The huge list of teas on the menu includes everything from oolong tea to herbal infusions, and it’s bottomless – so you don’t have to stick to the same one. I’d highly recommend the rose petal sparkling tea, which is iced and mixed with soda water. My nine-year-old son declared the hot chocolate the best he’d ever tasted.
By the time we reached the third course – a generous helping of golden scones served with cream and jam – we’d all eaten more than we could stomach. Thankfully the waitress boxed them up for us and we carted them up to our room, jam and all.
The Railway Children Return Family Stay Package
If you’re going all-out and booking the stay package – which includes the afternoon tea – you’ll be put up in one of the hotel’sChambers Suites, which is where we headed once we’d checked in at 3PM. There are only 38 of these luxurious rooms, and as a guest in one you get access to an exclusive lounge bar where drinks and nibbles – and most importantly, sweets – are available throughout the day. This is also where Chambers Suites guests are served a buffet breakfast in the morning, although if we stayed here again we’d pay extra to eat in the incredibly ornate Booking Office as a treat.
Our interconnecting rooms were as grand as you’d expect from this five-star hotel, with impossibly high ceilings and supersized windows overlooking Euston Road and The Standard Hotel opposite. We heard a fair few sirens throughout the night, and the trains gently rumbled through from around 6AM, although that was all part of the fun of staying in the centre of London. The door to our room opened into a hallway with a giant window overlooking the busy platform at St Pancras station on the other side of the building.
Elsewhere in the hotel there’s a pool and spa, which went down well with the kids.Children are allowed in the pool between 2PM and 4PM, and 8AM to 10AM, so we were able to squeeze in a swim once we’d checked in on the Sunday, and another the next morning before breakfast. The pool itself is small but ideal for a quick dunk, and there’s a steam room for grown-ups, plus a sauna in each changing room.
The hotel is in a great spot if you want to explore London – whether you’re staying close by or heading further afield via the Tube, which the hotel is pretty much on top of. I’ve picked out my top five transport-themed things to do in King’s Cross with kids over on There We Go, and all of them are within a ten-minute walk of the hotel.
Lastly, one can’t possibly stay at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel without climbing the grand staircase. This opulent double staircase was designed to be wide enough for ladies to pass one another in their ballgowns, but it’s most famous for its stint in The Spice Girls’ Wannabe video. Finished with ornately painted ceilings above the top flight of stairs, it’s the perfect place to stop and soak up the splendour of this incredible hotel before you head back home.
Disclaimer: this one-night Railway Children Return stay and afternoon package was provided for free in return for an honest review.
The Railway Children Return Afternoon Tea at The Hansom is available Thursday to Sunday from 1pm until 5pm and runs until mid-September. Afternoon tea starts from £46 for adults and £25 for children. For more information on the menu and to book, visit www.thehansom.co.uk.
The Railway Children Return family stay package runs at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel until September 15, 2022, and starts from £650 per family. To book, visit www.marriott.com/offers/the-railway-children-return-family-stay-OFF-51992?propertycode=LONPR.