Dust and Bubbles

A weekend away starts too well

After yet another croissant (“It was a chocolate one, I couldn’t help it”), Baz announces that he can have no more breakfasts for the entire weekend and that he should in fact “eat only dust”

“Dust and bubbles” I correct him: we are travelling to Reims to celebrate twenty years of marriage in champagne country. Bubbles are a given

Morning had forced us on to the next stage of the trip – the Eurostar from London to Paris. As we were escorted across the concourse of St Pancras, an animated old fella was thrashing out an energetic account of Billy Joel’s ‘Just the Way You Are’ on the station piano

Surely all stations should have a piano

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So, why was I not happier to be leaving? What could possibly be better than champagne tasting?

It’s simple. We’d stayed overnight in Room 184, a junior suite of the St Pancras Hotel. Outrageously decadent, but we both agreed that if we could do it all over again, we’d do it all over there

(Just not too often)

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The cornicing in our room, 184 – fabulous

That Sir George Gilbert Scott’s gothic masterpiece has been brought back to life, that it survived at all through the years of neglect and hostility (bombed in both World Wars and despised by many) is incredible. That much of it only survived due to the indifference and ignorance of a string of occupants* is poetryIMG_7951*This entire decorative alcove was saved because a previous tenant boarded over it. There were more but all the others are lost

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The hallway to the historic Ladies’ Smoking Room

The star of the show is the grand staircase, with its curves and perfect symmetryIMG_7954

3200 gold fleurs de lys, I am told, have been stencilled onto the red walls over the staircase – these are not GGS’s original design, but the new carpet was indeed manufactured to match the original and was faded just enough to look worn inIMG_7965

IMG_7952I haven’t attempted here to give you the history of the building: there are some wonderful ways to discover this, and one of those would be to spend a night here. But as someone who grew up in North London, and having known this building for many years only as an apparently derelict shell, I am in awe of how it has been imaginatively restored to one of London’s premier hotels

Seemingly, its champion, Mr Betjeman, feels the sameIMG_7875

Author: poshbirdy

Art deco/ art nouveau maniac enjoying a deep and meaningful relationship with alcohol

6 thoughts on “Dust and Bubbles”

  1. I’ve been through St. Pancras Station many times when I still lived in London – and admired the architecture I could see – but never realised such beauty was behind the walls. Actually, I think the last time I was there, British Rail was using some of the old apartments as offices so it was probably some time in the 80s.
    Congratulations on your anniversary and I hope the rest of your trip matched up to your rather grand departure.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gorgeous photos. I remember watching Betjemen wandering its dusty, derelict corridors in an old BBC documentary and wondering how it was possible no one was doing anything with it. Such a glorious building and the perfect departure point for such a bubbly weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Many congratulations on your anniversary, both of you. The hotel is decadence divine and certainly a bucket-list entry with a bullet for me. I hoe you enjoy Reims … I was there with my two middle daughters for just one night in February. We loved it. One for Jean d’Arc and the other for the Champagne. Me? I just enjoyed have a brace of daughters with me for a while – perhaps I might suggest they all take me to St Pancras for my next significant birthday …. one can dream, n’est-ce pas?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s so heartening to learn that a wreck has been restored, and to such lustre. And that it wasn’t knocked down to be replaced with a glass or concrete box.
    The piano thing seems to be a trend. I’ve seen players in a number of U.S. airports for several years. In the soulless, basement-level food court in Atlanta (I think), a pianist riffing on jazz was pure delight.

    Liked by 1 person

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