St Pancras Renaissance Hotel
On 5th May 1873, Sir George Gilbert Scott unveiled one of the world’s finest hotels in Victorian London. Exactly 138 years later in 2011, Scott’s Gothic masterpiece staged a spectacular second coming, re-opening as the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel.
After 10 years of painstaking restoration, at a cost of over £200 million, Manhattan Loft Corporation had revived one of the greatest buildings in Britain.
Initially commissioned to develop the residential apartments in the hotel’s loft space, when the original partner pulled out citing spiralling costs, Harry Handelsman held his nerve and his breath. The opportunity to collaborate with a legendary Victorian architect and restore London’s most conspicuous lost landmark was too good to turn down.
MLC took over the redevelopment of the entire site, each 50-foot window, every gold leaf ceiling and hand-painted mural. Also, the new wing; a contemporary evocation of Scott’s iconic red brick façade and home to 190 modern hotel rooms. It was to be the most challenging project we had ever undertaken.
The project quickly became a labour of love. At one point, there were 500 people hand- painting the various frescos; when a fragment of rare wallpaper was uncovered in one room, it was reinstated at a cost of £47,000.
The biggest challenge was in transforming a derelict Grade I listed building, deemed outdated upon its closure in 1935, into a 21st century five-star hotel. It had once been a state-of-the-art spectacle, featuring flushing toilets, hydraulic lifts and the recently-invented revolving door, however the integration of modern facilities would prove a feat of ingenious engineering.
It took 10 years for a dedicated team of architects, specialist contractors and master craftsmen to restore a hotel that took 8 years to build.
The 245-room St Pancras Renaissance Hotel opened to unprecedented critical acclaim. It received numerous accolades, including the RIBA award for Best Building in a Historic Context and both the Overall Winner and Best Refurbishment of the Year at the European Hospitality Awards.
But the legacy of this project doesn’t live on mantelpieces. It’s in the revival of one of the most romantic buildings in the country and the catalyst for Kings Cross’ successful regeneration. London no longer needs to wonder what lies behind the fairytale façade.
TOO BEAUTIFUL AND TOO ROMANTIC TO SURVIVE.
THE REBIRTH OF A GOTHIC MASTERPIECE.
THIS MOST ROMANTIC BUILDING HAS BEEN GLORIOUSLY RESTORED. IT SEEMS INCONCEIVABLE THAT SUCH A BUILDING COULD EVER HAVE BEEN REGARDED AS WORTHLESS.
IF GILBERT SCOTT PUT SO MUCH EFFORT INTO THIS BUILDING, I THINK IT WOULD BE A TRAVESTY FOR ME TO TRY TO MINIMISE MY CRITERIA.