For just one weekend each year, many otherwise elusive buildings in London open their doors to the general public in the spirit of architectural discovery. While this is my second year living in the city, this year’s London Open House is my first.
I was thrilled to get tickets to the lovely Kings Cross St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, situated right at the heart of the Kings Cross railway station. Before the tour started, I recounted my first few steps 2 years ago arriving at this marvelous city. I remembered being absolutely enchanted by the beauty of this 1873 building. Well, I still am.
After a £150m restoration, this Victorian Gothic hotel was re-opened only last year. I was quite pleased to be one of its few privileged visitors who did not have to pay for the hefty price tag!
The inside of the hotel is equally splendid, with gorgeous carpet and walls everywhere we walk. Some of these wallpaper was only recently discovered, hidden beneath layers of old paint. The preservation work is tremendous in ensuring that these wonderful designs see the light of the day again.
My next destination couldn’t be more different: The Beefeater Gin Distillery. Located at Kennington, South London, the journey there was surprisingly short. The London premium gin company is the only distillery still located at the capital of a country, and many actually do not know it exists.
The funny caveat was that we were welcomed by a kindly looking middle aged men at the counter, who then at the knowledge from the guide some time later, was understood to be master distiller of the spirit. The tour itself was more about gin than the architecture, but no one was complaining! We ended the day with a gin and tonic (of course!) at 11.30am, which was a rather good way to start the weekend!