An Introduction to the St Pancras Renaissance and Belvedere Vodka.
Although I work from home and enjoy a flexible lifestyle, I seldom take a full day out from work. But, right now my house is full of builders who have been refurbishing the living room – the space directly above my study. So, an invitation to spend a day at the St Pancras Renaissance with a spa treatment and lunch thrown in, not to mention the odd vodka cocktail, all rounded off with drinks at the Belvedere Spritz Bar, was far too tempting.
Of course, I’ve been to the St Pancras Renaissance before, though for afternoon tea at the Gilbert Scott and for a Perrier Jouet special evening in The Booking Office. I’d never seen around the hotel and I genuinely hadn’t realised there was a spa. In fact, the hotel spa is quite extensive, with a fitness suite, swimming pool, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna together with treatment rooms where you can enjoy a range of options. I went for a mini facial with Cinq Monde organic and natural products before spending an hour or so relaxing in the pool and steam room. The spa is located in what used to be the Hotel’s steam kitchens – though you’d never know!
After the spa treatment, we went upstairs to the Booking Office bar and restaurant to watch and learn how to make a vodka and champagne punch. I learnt that the St Pancras Renaissance is keen to revive traditional punch recipes, so if you visit at the right time, you may well find yourself being treated to something similar.
Our punch was made by preparing the bowl with lemon zest and supersized ice cubes, before adding Belvedere Vodka, lemon juice, a mixed berry juice and simple syrup. That mixture was carefully ladled into the waiting punch glasses before being topped up with Chapel Down English Sparkling Wine. The perfect summer aperitif.
We went on to enjoy a whole range of plates from the new summer menu at the Booking Office. My personal favourites from the menu were the slow roast aubergine with rosemary goats cheese, caponata, pickled walnut and tahini which was vegetarian but so good that even a little carnivore like me wanted a full plate for myself.
And, the Welsh spring lamb rump with grilled artichoke and sheep’s curd, merguez sausage and heritage carrot.
Executive Chef Adam Ashe turned up to say hello. He’s a keen advocate of farm to table dining, so the menus have a strong British twist, although with quite a contemporary feel. Most importantly, I loved everything that I ate!
Sadly I couldn’t try the prettiest of the desserts – the strawberry pannacotta, but I loved the alternative.
I’d never seen inside the hotel, but was fascinated by the iconic staircase, which has been used for so many film shoots it’s hard to pick a favourite. The fantastic carpet is made from just one piece.
Upstairs we looked around a number of the rooms. Beautifully decorated, they combine a contemporary finish with the historic features of this Grade I listed building.
I think if I was lucky enough to spend the night here I’d be asking for one of the suites overlooking the station.
Although you can’t hear any of the noise from the station itself, if you peek out behind the curtains, you can see all the bustle of life – passengers waiting or running to catch a train, couples being reunited, children coming home from school. It’s perfect for any train spotter or people watcher.
The hotel itself was built between 1868 and 1876, designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott as the Midland Grand Hotel. It’s built in the Gothic Revival Style, which to me means it looks like something out of Harry Potter. An Iconic structure, it is regarded as the finest example of this type of architecture in Britain.
Of course, there are adaptations and additions. As mentioned before, the spa is housed in what used to be the kitchens of the original hotel and there’s a fantastic space known as the Hansom Lounge which was where, originally, hansom cabs and carriages would drop off passengers for the hotel or station itself.
And, the Booking Office was, of course, the old ticket office for St Pancras Station.
The partnership with Belvedere for the Chelsea Flower Show was to provide a range of healthy cocktails spritzers. After our tour of the hotel we were treated to a demonstration and tasting of these stunningly simple summer drinks.
Belvedere is Rye Vodka, a premium, single grain vodka from Poland , which is pot distilled 4 times, creating a vodka that is subtly sweet and has a smooth, clean finish. The simple spritz cocktails are designed to let the vodka shine, and they are so easy even I might have a go at home. They make use of Belvedere Macerations – vodka which has been enhanced with fruits, to create the perfect ingredient for a summer drink.
If you’d like to try for yourself, here’s the recipe for the Belvedere Grapefruit Spritz. And, there are more options more on the Belvedere Website.
For more about the St Pancras Renaissance and Spa
St Pancras Renaissance Hotel: http://www.stpancraslondon.com/en/
St Pancras Renaissance Spa: http://www.stpancraslondon.com/en/spa/about-the-spa/
St Pancras Booking Office Restaurant: http://www.stpancraslondon.com/en/restaurants-and-bars/booking-office/