Reporting from London — — Londoners could never decide whether they loved or hated the huge red Gothic Revival St. Pancras railway station and hotel. A fantastical pile better suited to Hollywood than North London, the hotel was closed to the public in 1935; much later the site was used as a location for "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" and "Batman Begins."
A few years ago, the station was redeveloped as the terminus for Eurostar, the high-speed train that whisks passengers from London to Paris in just over two hours. Then this spring, after a meticulous $250-million, seven-year restoration of its high Victorian glories, the hotel reopened as the St. Pancras Renaissance, London's newest luxury lodging, operated by Marriott.
During St. Pancras' long dereliction, I led tour groups through the ravaged remains, which were always deathly cold and damp. So I was a bit nervous going back, afraid of what I would find.
As soon as I walked from the station proper into the old Booking Hall, I knew that the building had been restored to its original grandeur. I was in a large, dark but comfortable room with tables and sofas. Behind the long bar, noted mixologist Nick Strangeway was concocting Victorian punches and cocktails and pouring English sparkling wine.