As London’s most central rail terminus, Kings Cross is just as much a vital travel hub as it is a vibrant place to hang out. But of course, being incredibly popular has its downsides. As it becomes increasingly difficult to get a Kings Cross taxi out of there. That’s why we’ve put together this minicab driver’s guide to the area – so you’ve got all the help you need to stay ahead of the crowds. King’s Cross train station is famous for a number of reasons, good and bad. Home to a terrible and tragic fire in 1987, it was built to offer Londoners unfettered travel to the North. But it’s another of its supposed destinations that really brought it to the world stage – Hogwarts. Every day hundreds of keen Harry Potter fans flock to platform 9¾ in the hope that they too might end up on the Hogwarts express. Looking for a slightly less magical destination? Just pop over to neighbouring St. Pancras and catch the Eurostar to Paris or Brussels. Not got your passport? The station also offers access to six different underground lines: Piccadilly, Metropolitan, Northern, Hammersmith & City, Victoria and Circle. Meaning that you’re never too far from adventure when you’re in KX. Nearby there’s Granary Square for avant-garde eateries, The Renaissance Hotel for high tea and Camden Town for live music, theatre and of course, the markets! Leaving us wondering this; just because you can go anywhere from Kings Cross, do you have to? Perhaps not just yet… Get stuck into our Kings Cross taxi driver’s guide and stay a little while, won’t you?
Where to drink
With its kooky tea-shop interior, Simmons looks like the kind of place the Mad Hatter would go for a Margarita after a long day down the rabbit hole. Just a minute’s walk from King’s Cross station, it offers a wide range of spectacular cocktails and is open til late every weekend. Feeling frugal? It boasts four whole hours of happy every night of the week.
32 Caledonian Rd, N1 9DT
If your train’s been delayed, cancelled or even if you never bothered to buy a ticket. Searcy’s champagne bar in St. Pancras station is a must-visit. Bringing the bubbles to your commute, this terraced Parisian bar sits alongside its larger namesake restaurant. Serving champers, oysters and more than a splash of glamour to this ornate railway station.
Grand Terrace (upstairs), St Pancras International Station, N1C 4QL
Big Chill House
Given its proximity to the nearby train stations and all their commotion, it’s hardly surprising that the Big Chill is often packed out. What may be a surprise is that on a sunny day, you can dip past the crowds and up onto its roof terrace. Offering a range of reasonably priced burgers and sharer plates to soak up the cocktails, this is a real staple of the local area.
257-259 Pentonville Rd, N1 9NL
Where to eat
Granary Square has quickly become a location destination for foodies in London. And never more so than in the case of Caravan. Its steel interior mirrors the area’s industrial past while the menu brings something altogether more contemporary. Hard to pin down to any one culture, it’s best described as ‘gourmet world food’. It doesn’t matter what you call it. It’s delicious.
1 Granary Square, N1C 4AA
Yes, we know, this is also on Granary Square and literally next door to Caravan but they’re both fantastic and that’s all that matters. Light, open and airy, the food here is an eclectic mix of vegetable based dishes with a Bordeaux twist. Fancy a cocktail? The menu was designed by Tony Conigliaro of Colebrooke row (the Heston Blumenthal of the drinks world!).
2 Granary Square, N1C 4AB
Plum & Spilt Milk
Hidden inside the Great Northern Hotel is this luxury laden British restaurant serving up a wide range of dishes from contemporary curries through to stylish charcuteries. The reins behind the pass were recently handed to ‘sleb chef Mark Sargeant and early reports are that he’s worked wonders with the place. We highly recommend you try their incredibly indulgent Sunday Roast.
Great Northern Hotel, Kings Cross St Pancras Station, Pancras Rd, N1C 4TB
What to do
Go on, satisfy your inner child. Or better yet, your actual kids! In reality platforms 9 and 10 may be separated by a giant brick wall, but it didn’t stop the good people at King’s Cross train station from installing this artistic rendering of that mythical departure point. There’s even a gift shop around the corner. Expect a little queue and no actual magic… probably.
King’s Cross Pond Club
Ever wanted to swim in an all natural pool right in the heart of central London? Of course you have. This organic pool is maintained not by chemicals and chlorine but by its organic plant life instead. Open for the better part of the year, we recommend you visit in the summertime. And don’t forget to book ahead, it’s very popular and spaces are limited.
Tapper Walk, N1C 4BE
King’s Cross Theatre
With the West End not far away, you’d be forgiven for never having thought of King’s Cross as a good spot to catch a show. But having only opened in 2014, this immersive theatre is fast putting itself at the forefront of contemporary arts in the area. Staging two shows at a time, the theatre even boasts an experiential bar.
Goods way, N1C 4UR