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Check-In: The Standard, London

The Standard Hotels have always caused quite a stir. New-York based Standard International (initially launched by André Balazs 18 years ago who has since stepped down), currently has five boutique Standard Hotels properties in Los Angeles, New York and Miami.

The Standard in King’s Cross, London, in the Shawn Hausman-designed Brutalist structure marks The Standard’s first foray into the European market and its inaugural project outside of the US.

Sitting in the former annex of Camden Town Hall, it brings to the area some personality, with its red-pill-shaped lift that scales the Euston Road facade (think “can of Coke coming down a vending machine”).

But how standard is The Standard?


THE VIBE

Let’s set the scene. Enter through revolving doors. On the left is the timber-clad reception area, framed by the geometric tile feature wall by ceramics artist Lubna Chowdhary. To the right, a seating area with views across to King’s Cross St. Pancras station.

The word “groovy” comes to mind. Walk through to the Library Lounge, the epicentre of the ground-floor public areas, which pays homage to the former Camden Council Library – here shelves of books compiled under categories from “Order” to “Chaos”, “Gardening” to “Dance.”

Photo Credit: David Cleveland

To the left of the space is all-day restaurant Isla, 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.

Photo Credit: Charlie McKay

Photo Credit: Charlie McKay

Hausman, a long-time collaborator of The Standard, is the one responsible for the hotel’s distinct retro vibes and interiors. With regular travellers to and from Paris, and now Amsterdam, it’s an easy layover. Added to King’s Cross’ revival, it’s possible to find yourselves on their outdoor terrace regularly.


THE ROOMS

Select from eleven room types across 266 rooms, from a single to the Queen of Queens or King of Kings, Suite Spot to the Suite Terrace. If budget permits, for the best views in the house, shoot for Junior suite and above, situated on the ninth floor and upwards.

The design brief for bedrooms would read; retro California cool, lots of natural light (nod to those floor-to-ceiling windows), leather finishings and free-standing bathtubs. Adding to proceedings are views of King’s Cross (for Junior Suite and up), Bang & Olufsen wireless speakers, custom Craig Green robes a Peloton bike delivered directly to your room (on request), a Stutterheim raincoat for use across your stay (useful in our rainy London climes), complimentary sneaker cleaning service, turndown service and an overstocked minibar (you’ll want to read more on this in The Little Extras).

For those with impossibly high “standards”, the Suite Terrace is an envy-inducing penthouse, perched on top the hotel which boasts its own bar.


THE LITTLE EXTRAS

At check-in, reception offers you Covid-friendly “thimbles” to prevent touching buttons in the lifts. A novelty but none-the-less thoughtful, comic Covid addition.

As for the mini bar – often the first place I visit in a hotel – at The Standard they come well-endowed, stocked with everything from black-truffle crisps to vegan protein balls, tequila shots to great beer from Camden Town Brewery.

A little extra that would have been welcome? An overall sense of bother from restaurant staff, particularly at breakfast time. Helmed by a General Manager we love, Ellie Jafari (ex-The Curtain), let’s hope this warms up sooner than our next London summertime.


THE FOOD + DRINK

The Terrace at Double Standard is a lively street-facing spot serving craft beers and cocktails along with a menu of pub fare and “NYC dive bar food” – think hot dogs, burgers and mac n’ cheese. It’s by far The Standard’s winning spot. Don’t opt for the salads (not worth it), dive straight in with the fried chicken bites, hot dogs and cocktails and find yourself a heated spot on their terrace.

Photo Credit: Charlie McKay

Photo Credit: Charlie McKay

On the tenth floor of the Standard is Decimo, another space kitted out with floor-to-ceiling windows and dramatic views across the London skyline. Michelin-starred Chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias menu merges the Spanish cuisine of his family with his love of Mexico so expect lots of flavour. You won’t go far wrong with an order of aquachile (Mexican ceviche), vegan paella, mezcal cocktails and a dramatically different tortilla.

The third food outlet at The Standard is Isla (currently closed during Covid), which offers light proteins and a predominantly natural wine list.

Breakfast is served back in Double Standard – a disappointing affair. A wasted avo-toast and chia porridge later (with some sad serving faces) you’ll be grateful that the whole of King’s Cross (and foodie hotspot Coal Drops Yard) is one street away.


THE TO-DO LIST

Within the hotel, keep up-to-date with their string of events.

Outside of this, the constantly revamped areas of King’s Cross – with Granary Square sitting “square” in the middle – provides plenty of buzz.

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