A stylish collection of shops, galleries, bars and restaurants housed in Victorian viaducts, Coal Drops Yards combines the industrial legacy of King’s Cross with its status as a one of the capital’s trendiest destinations today. The cobbled streets and brick arches are home to a curated mix of independent shops and signature brands from the UK and abroad, as well as an intelligently programmed series of cultural events. With its canal-side setting, eye-catching architecture and lively public squares filled with rotating interactive art installations, this area is well worth a visit.
A stroll along Regent’s Canal, an 13.8-kilometre (8.6-mile) waterway winding through the heart of King’s Cross, is one of our favourite London walks. Start off at Granary Square and head down the astroturfed stairs to the towpath, along which you can walk to ZSL London Zoo, Primrose Hill and Little Venice. We recommend heading west past charming narrowboats and the Camley Street Natural Park urban nature reserve towards Camden market, to end up at Regent’s Park.
Floating on Regent’s Canal is our favourite London bookshop, the Word on the Water. Selling everything from classics to contemporary literature, the 1920s Dutch barge-come-bookstore, permanently moored on Granary Square, hosts poetry slams and live music on its roof stage.
An architectural marvel, the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, forming the frontispiece of St Pancras International railway station, first opened its doors in 1873 as the Midland Grand Hotel. Today, guests can stay in its five-star rooms or stop for a pint at the George’s Bar in The Gilbert Scott restaurant, with its high painted ceilings and dramatic red walls.
Sitting on the banks of Regent’s Canal, Granary Square is the historic heart of King’s Cross. Once the location of the Goods Yard, where barges unloaded their produce to be sold in the city, the square is today the home to more than 1,000 choreographed fountains that are lit up at night. Whether its children splashing around in the fountains, Londoners enjoying the boats pass by from the canal steps, or special events such as the Floating Cinema that take place throughout the year, Granary Square is a magnificent and animated spectacle. It’s also flanked by an exemplary selection of restaurants and bars.
Street food market KERB, open 12pm-2pm, Wednesday to Friday, has some of the best lunch stalls in the city. The food pop-ups transform the Granary Square area, with a rotation of different vendors serving up everything from fresh gnocchi and poké bowls to calamari and Korean-Mexican fusion bowls.
Home to 150 million items, from the Magna Carta to original lyrics of The Beatles, the British Library has the one of the world’s greatest book collections, and is a must-see for bookworms and history buffs. Only a few minutes’ walk from King’s Cross, the library – the largest public building constructed in the UK in the 20th century – is free to the public.
Advertised as “the free destination for the incurably curious”, the Wellcome Collection’s quirky range of exhibitions is a testament to its founder Sir Henry Wellcome and his enthusiasm for travel. Enjoy the museum’s wide programme of events, from drop-in workshops and activities to its permanent displays on science and medicine.
For Harry Potter fans out there, this infamous destination needs little introduction. A tribute to the fictitious Platform 9 ¾ that serves as a portal to the magical world immortalised by JK Rowling’s writing, the title character’s trolley stuck in the wall offers the perfect photo opportunity. And if you haven’t got your Harry Potter fill, just pop next door to the official shop and deck yourself out in wizarding gear for the tube ride home – unfortunately, the train to Hogwarts isn’t in use.
The churchyard of St Pancras Old Church, which dates back to the Roman Empire, is a real treasure trove for literary and history enthusiasts. In 1877, the site was converted into public gardens to make way for the railway by canonical English novelist Thomas Hardy, then a young architect. As well as the chance to visit the mausoleum of famed British architect Sir John Soane, the gardens are known as being the birthplace of the romance between poet Percy Shelley and the future author of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley.