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St Pancras's other great railway hotel by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in HOTELS + VILLAS By Maggie O'Sullivan

I’ve never caught the Eurostar ski train, but any service that whisks skiers from St Pancras or Ashford Intertional to Moûtiers, Aime-La-Plagne or Bour-st-Maurice for just £149 return has got be worth trying. True, it takes the whole day (or night) to get to the Alps by train – but, by the time you’ve travelled to the airport this end, hung around for your flight, and transferred to the resort the other end, so does flying.

And there’s another advantage of taking the ski train: it gives you an excuse to stay at the Great Northern Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel opening directly onto the station concourse. Designed by Lewis Cubbitt, the Great Northern Hotel was one of many station hotels built during the Age of Steam in the 19th century. And like most station hotels, it fell into decline in the mid-20th century and eventually closed. Then in 2013 the Great Northern was reincarnated as a slick boutique hotel, with designer rooms, hip bar and à la carte restaurant and is, once again, a stylish point of departure.Rooms come in three styles – all fairly small but beautifully decorated. The most charming are the Couchettes (above), designed to look like a traditional sleeping car – perfect for getting you in the mood for a train journey. And there’s a pantry on each floor with complimentary cake and biscuits at tea time. The railway theme continues throughout the hotel: the restaurant, Plum + Spilt Milk is apparently named after the colours of the Flying Scotsman’s dining car (no, I’m not sure how that works either) and decorated with 120 hand blown glass pendants and banquette-style furniture. Cuisine – which thankfully bears no relation to traditional train food – is British using seasonal ingredients, while the GNH Bar (above) is reminiscent of a glamorous station bar, with etched mirrors on the ceilings and a pewter and marble bar.There is, of course, a bigger, more glamorous hotel at St Pancras station, but rooms at the Great Northern Hotel compare favourably with standard rooms at the St Pancras Renaissance and are less expensive. Even better for skiers, the Great Northern Hotel has introduced a special ski train package, which includes an overnight stay, breakfast, takeaway lunch for the train and ‘chalet boy’ service to carry your skis and boot bag. They will even wax your skis – you don’t get that on easyJet… Further information, Great Northern Hotel

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