Intercity train travel is the most important long-distance travel option within Britain and, since the launch of European services through the Channel Tunnel in 1994, is an option of growing importance between Britain and the Continent. London is a hub for rail networks reaching out in all directions. Although a handful of train stations have major significance, a total of 14 mainline stations ring central London with a choice of hotel types near all of them.
Kings Cross and St. Pancras
Kings Cross and St. Pancras stations are next to each other. In addition to domestic travel, St. Pancras is the international terminal for Eurostar trains. The area around these stations has a wide range of hotels at all prices. The Novotel London St. Pancras is a 312-room, four-star hotel with services for both business and leisure travelers. The hotel, part of the French Accor group, is a mid-priced hotel by London standards. Bed and breakfast are free for children under 16 sharing with parents.
Euston Station, about a mile from Kings Cross and St. Pancras, is the terminus for trains from the midlands and the west coast. The Hotel Ibis London Euston St. Pancras is the economy option of the French-owned Accor group. Rooms in Ibis hotels are stripped down and basic, but clean, modern and efficient. This hotel has 380 rooms, a restaurant and bar. Significantly for this area, where parking is at a premium, the hotel has available pay parking for 100 cars. Although "St. Pancras" is in the hotel's name, it is actually almost a mile from the international station and is more convenient for Euston.
Trains from Paddington go to southwest England and south Wales. Bayswater, a district of moderately priced and cheap tourist hotels, is adjacent to the station. Visitors need to select with care as quality is variable in this area. The Hotel Indigo London Paddington is a moderately priced townhouse boutique hotel with nicely outfitted rooms and small but stylish bathrooms. Photographs of the local area, including almost abstract images of Paddington Station, feature prominently in the decor. In addition to English, European staff at the Indigo speak German, Polish, Romanian and Russian.
Liverpool Street Station
Liverpool Street Station on the edge of the city -- London's financial services center-- is the hub for trains from East Anglia and Essex. The Andaz, a chic luxury boutique hotel, is just outside the station's main entrance. The hotel is a Hyatt redevelopment of the historic Great Eastern Hotel, a railway hotel that formerly occupied the site. The Andaz retains some original features of the 19th century station hotel in its bar and restaurants. Guestrooms, on the other hand, are starkly modern, decorated in white with accent colors and original artwork. One unusual feature of this hotel is the lack of reception desks. Instead, staff "bring check-in to you" in the form of a portable PC. Some guests may find this approach a bit disorienting.
Victoria Station serves train services from Kent and Sussex. The station is close to Buckingham Palace, Westminster Cathedral and Scotland Yard. It is also less than a mile from the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. The Grosvenor, London, operated by Thistle Hotels, was one of the city's well-known Victorian railway hotels, and its public rooms are like time capsules of Victoriana. Guestrooms are a bit tired and bathrooms in particular are due for refurbishment. But the hotel wins for economy and location. This hotel used to be known as the Thistle Victoria Hotel, but -- confusingly -- changed its name to the Grosvenor. Visitors should not mistake this budget station hotel with the Grosvenor House, one of London's top luxury hotels on Park Lane.
Trains for the south and southwest depart from Waterloo Station. The station is convenient for London's Southbank arts venues and galleries. The Marriott London County Hall, about a 10-minute walk from the station, occupies part of a landmark, former government building beside the London Eye, the city's giant observation wheel, and Westminster Bridge. The 200 guestrooms of this five-star hotel are furnished in an elegant, traditional style. But the hotel's main claim to fame is the view. It is located directly across the river from Parliament and Big Ben, and commands the best hotel views of these landmarks in London. Another hotel, a branch of the economy Premier Inns chain, occupies the back of County Hall -- without the stunning views.
- Hotel Novotel London St. Pancras: Location and Access
- Ibis London Euston St. Pancras; 3 Cardington Street; London NW1 2LW ; 011-44-20-7388-7777
- Hotel Indigo London-Paddington; 16 London Street; Paddington, London W2 1HL; 011-44-20-7706-4444
- Andaz Liverpool Street; 40 Liverpool Street; London EC2M 7QN; 011-44-20-7961-1234
- The Thistle Grosvenor: Contact Us
- London Marriott County Hall; Westminster Bridge Road; London SE1 7PB; 011-44-20-7928-5200
- St Pancras Station image by Looking Glass from Fotolia.com