Earlier this month, I was invited to stay at the St Pancras Renaissance hotel to experience the hotel’s new Suite to Seat programme for guests booked on Eurostar the following day.
Guests of the hotel who are staying in a suite can have VIP boarding onto their Eurostar, with luggage directly taken onto the train by a porter and fast-track check-in provided.
This article will include a review of a stay at the St Pancras Renaissance, along with an overview of the Suite to Seat experience.
We were invited by both Eurostar and the St Pancras Renaissance hotel to trial this service. Thanks to Dorette, Eva and Lara for their kind hospitality during this trip.
First impressions of the St Pancras Renaissance hotel
As any reader who has attended a recent HfP summer party will attest, the St Pancras Renaissance has one the most memorable hotel exteriors in London. A huge Gothic cathedral of a building that integrates into St Pancras station, the hotel is an iconic landmark and has featured in many a film and tv shows including Batman Begins, Harry Potter and of course, the Spice Girls’ Wannabe video.
The hotel has a dedicated entrance on Euston Road with a sweeping driveway for drop-offs, often featuring a pink McLaren for some reason. The hotel’s lobby doubles up as its afternoon tea / cocktail lounge and is situated in what was once the cobbled and covered entrance to St Pancras station. Reception desks are situated on the right side of the large space and seemed well staffed when I was there.
I was checked in swiftly by a helpful team member who carefully explained how to find my room.
The suites at St Pancras Renaissance all run across the Chambers Wing of the hotel, mostly overlooking either the Eurostar platforms or towards Euston Road. My suite was one of the exceptions and situated at the very end of the wing, so instead looked out over the front of Kings Cross station.
The door to the room opens into a wardrobe section, with a large console in front of a mirror on the left. The wardrobes were sizeable and well stocked, with plenty of hanging room, plus a separate cupboard of shelves. One of these shelves contained the tea-making facilities and extra cups. It was a bit of a strange place for these, simply because the coffee machine was situated above some empty drawers in an entirely different part of the room.
The Chambers suites are described as reflecting the hotel’s ’distinct heritage’ with the key features being the vast ceiling height and windows, which really are impressive.
The bed was very large, a super king I believe with soft linens and plump pillows. Both sides had a well-sized bedside tables, although the socket situation would have enraged Rhys – there was just one socket, which I had to rummage around behind the bedside table to find.
The large desk however has plenty of sockets to pick from, all recessed into a hidden panel and still leaving plenty of work space.
The bathroom is a ‘room within a room’ that runs along the back of the bed, with a deep bathtub and separate shower. It was very roomy and functional, with double basins and plenty of space around them for washbags.
Toiletries were The White Company’s ‘Noir’ range. I still prefer large wall-mounted shampoos and shower gels from both a sustainability perspective and because I find the little bottles a bit fiddly, but they smelt lovely.
Décor was simple but luxurious, with some eye-catching elements such as a huge gold mirror, green marble fireplace and a glitzy desk lamp.
Spa and wellness at St Pancras Renaissance
Tucked away under the hotel lies the hotel’s spa, gym and pool. None are huge, this is central London after all, but it’s all very well designed and rather luxurious.
The pool has a hammam-inspired vibe, with low lighting and a whirlpool at one end of the pool. You won’t be getting any serious lengths in here, but everything about the space is relaxing and tranquil. There’s also a steam room and sauna nearby.
The gym is well-equipped, with treadmills, rowers, bikes and cross-trainers plus weights. It was really busy when I visited, hence the use of hotel photography.
A wide range of spa treatments are available and they use a brand called 111SKIN. I had a massage and facial whilst there (paid for by myself) with a lovely therapist called Moona, which was very relaxing.
The Chambers Club
All suite guests have access to the hotel’s executive lounge – the Chambers Club.
Access from the suites is down a sweeping staircase, as you can see above.
The lounge has views both over the station and to the front of the hotel. It’s another high-ceilinged Gothic room, all claret walls and intricate ironwork, with an array of seating including some cosy booths and restaurant-type tables for eating at.
I popped in during happy hour and there was no shortage of drinks, with several red and white wines on offer, along with beers and soft drinks. I rather boringly opted for a soft drink, but very much enjoyed the freshly-baked banana cake which was truly delicious. There were a number of sweet and savoury snacks available too with crisps and nuts and some homemade truffles and nougat.
Impressed by the happy hour snacks, I decided to have breakfast at the Chambers Club instead of heading down to the restaurant. The cooked breakfast elements looked appealing, and I noticed the self-service platters were regularly stocked up with fresh batches from the kitchen.
There were plenty of continental breakfast options too along with a bread corner and a separate sweet bakery area.
It was all plentiful and fresh, although I would have liked to have seen a bit more fresh fruit. I spied a bowl of tinned peaches, which, whilst I have nothing against the humble tinned peach, felt a little on the basic side, particularly in September when things like British strawberries and raspberries are still available. Nitpicking aside, the breakfast was great, and the baked goods were again a particular highlight.
If you are rushing to catch a train, the Chambers Club is the closest part of the hotel to the platforms and you can make a swift exit through the club to the Eurostar end of the station.
Breakfast for the rest of the hotel is served in The Booking Office, St Pancras Renaissance’s main restaurant. I would encourage anyone visiting the hotel to pop in to The Booking Office, even if only for a drink, as it is pretty fabulous.
Housed in what had been the station’s 19th century ticket office, the restaurant channels 1930s opulence with towering palm trees and glass chandeliers and offers a decent menu that isn’t as expensive as the surroundings would lead you to believe.
Suite to Seat
Following a good night’s sleep and breakfast, I was able to experience the full Suite to Seat experience.
I was booked onto the 9.31 Eurostar to Paris. Around 8.40 my luggage was collected by a helpful concierge, Gabor, and I was met by a ‘VIP escort’, a lovely lady called Mercedes.
Mercedes accompanied me from the hotel and down to the Eurostar entrance, with Gabor and the luggage keeping pace. I say pace, but it can’t have been more than 5 minutes at a very leisurely walking speed.
If you have been in St Pancras station in midsummer, you will have seen the snaking queues to the Eurostar terminal. The key benefit of the ‘Suite to Seat’ experience is that you bypass all of this and are taken straight to a dedicated check-in.
I had been asked to download the biometric authentication app iProov and upload my picture and passport details in advance of the journey. I was therefore able to use Eurostar’s contactless Smart Check. It took seconds to scan my face and check my details, after which I was able to walk straight through to French passport control (this time manned by an actual human).
Usually Smart Check is only available for Eurostar Carte Blanche / Etoile holders or those travelling in Business Premier, however, all ‘Suite to Seat’ guests will be able to skip the queues and use the Smart Check lane, even if they are travelling on a Standard Class ticket.
Gabor and Mercedes are part of a handful of St Pancras Renaissance staff who have special passes that allow them to easily move in and out of the Eurostar terminal so were able to accompany me all the way to the train.
Gabor had sped ahead, taking my luggage through security. Once I boarded the train, I found he had already neatly loaded my bags onto the correct carriage, close to my reserved seat.
From suite to seat must have taken less than 20 minutes, although the hotel encourage guests to give themselves about 45 minutes just in case.
A similar service is also available for anyone travelling on the Eurostar from Paris to London and staying in a Chambers Suite at the St Pancras Renaissance. In these cases, guests are met by a porter at the train door, who will take the luggage and guests are personally guided to the hotel.
I used to commute home through St Pancras and the regular sight of the seemingly never-ending queue to the Eurostar terminal was so off-putting, I’ve rarely travelled on the Eurostar.
I really can see the benefits of the ‘Suite to Seat’ service that the St Pancras Renaissance offers, particularly as it also includes a stay in one of the more memorable hotels in London. I appreciated not having to lug my bags through security and can imagine that anyone travelling with children would especially appreciate the rapid check-in.
I’ve visited the hotel many times now, twice as a guest and plenty of times in preparation for the HfP summer parties. I have always found the service to be very professional and friendly and the rooms comfortable, but it’s the architecture and first impressions of the hotel that really are hard-to-beat.
Suites at the St Pancras Renaissance start from £675 per night. The Suite to Seat service is also available for guests who have booked a Chambers Suite using Marriott Bonvoy points. Rates start at £350 plus 70,000 points for a cash upgrade or 140,800 points for a points upgrade
The hotel website is here if you want to book or check pricing.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (December 2023)
There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.
You can apply here.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.
Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card? It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Premium and MeliaRewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:
- American Express Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Rewards Credit Card (10,000 bonus Amex points)
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
and for small business owners:
- American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Business Platinum (40,000 bonus Amex points)
The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)