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. With over 1,000 choreographed fountains that are lit up at night, the square is a magnificent spectacle and is always animated, whether it be 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.
Home to 150 million items, from the Magna Carta to original lyrics of The Beatles, the British Library is the world’s second-greatest book collection and is a must for bookworms and history buffs. Only a few minutes’ walk from King’s Cross, entry to the infamous library – the largest public building constructed in the UK in the 20th century – is free and membership is available for students and members of the public over the age of 18 via online pre-registration.
British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB, UK, + 0330 333 1144
Advertised as ‘the free destination for the incurably curious’, the Wellcome Collection’s quirky range of exhibitions is a testament to its founder’s enthusiasm for travel, Sir Henry Wellcome. Part of the Wellcome Trust, the Wellcome Collection began in 2007 and now attracts over 500,000 visitors every year. Enjoy the museum’s wide programme of events, from drop-in workshops and activities on Spectacular Lates, to its permanent displays on science and medicine.
Unearth your inner Sherlock and play detective for an hour at Hint Hunt’s live escape game, a 10-minute walk from King’s Cross. Designed for small groups of three to five people, the aim of the game is to work as a team to escape a locked room by decoding a series of challenging puzzles and mysteries, all while attempting to beat the clock. Take your pick from the classic detective style challenge of ‘JM’s Office’ or the Japanese flavour of the ‘Zen Rooms’, starting from £17 a ticket.
Bar Pepito is a vibrant taste of Spain that brings sunshine to a cloudy London. Sitting across the courtyard from its sister restaurant Camino, the small space calls for an intimate and traditional Andalusian bodega perfect for after-work drinks. The specialised sherry bar is at the forefront of the sherry revolution, with an extensive variety of speciality Jerez sherries with a modern twist and a delicious tapas menu that will leave you wanting more.
Bar Pepito, 3 Varnishers Yard, Kings Cross, London N1 9DF, UK, + 020 7841 7331
Platform 9 ¾
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 J.K 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.
Freshen up in the summer heat at the Pond Club, the UK’s first man-made freshwater public bathing pond. Part of the King’s Cross Arts Programme, the 40-metre-long, chemical-free pond is designed as a contemporary experiential art installation, Of Soil and Water. Visitors of the Pond have access to changing rooms, lockers and showers and lifeguards will be on duty during opening hours to guarantee a safe swim. And if you’re not in the mood for a swim, enjoy an aerial view of the pond and the stunning backdrop of King’s Cross from the viewing platform.
This Aussie and Kiwi enterprise offers a laid-back atmosphere and an exciting menu in a trendy industrial setting. Choose from Caravan’s smaller sharing plates, such as the deep-fried duck egg with baba ghanoush, and the larger dishes, including a hearty celeriac gratin with parsley, walnut and brandy apple. Head down for breakfast before exploring the King’s Cross area or, if you’re not feeling hungry, grab a coffee and people watch overlooking Granary Square.
St Pancras Old Church and Gardens
The churchyard of St Pancras Gardens, 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 none other than canonical English novelist Thomas Hardy, then a young architect. As well as the chance to visit the mausoleum of Sir John Soane, the designer of the iconic red telephone box, the gardens are known as being the birthplace of the romance between poet Percy Shelley and the future author of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley.