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Your guide to... King's Cross

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King’s Cross is one of north London’s liveliest areas, that’s earned itself a solid status as one of London’s foodie hotspots – thanks to the recent redevelopment of Granary Square and brand new Coal Drops yard. The area’s amazing transport links also mean you can go pretty much anywhere too – even France, if you so desire…

Such a central location can make for a pretty skyhigh rent, but if you can’t afford to live here there are still plenty of reasons to come and visit. Check ‘em out here.

How do I get there?

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To say that Kings Cross is a transport hub would be an understatement. Kings Cross and St Pancras host a whopping SIX tube lines (Circle, Piccadilly, Hammersmith & City, Northern, Metropolitan and Victoria) making them the biggest interchange on the London Underground. Meaning you can get pretty much anywhere in London from the station – both central and suburban.

The two stations also directly connect London to other cities all over the UK (Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh, etc.) as well as all over Europe – the mighty Eurostar from St Pancras can get you to Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and other European cities within mere hours!

Oh and if you find yourself lingering in Kings Cross station with nothing to do: look up. The ceiling is nothing short of magnificent.

What is there to do?

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At the heart of King’s Cross lies Granary Square – a large, open space brimming with bars, eateries and some rather impressive water fountains. The light up, dancing jets are a favourite of children (and some adults!) who can often be found weaving in and out of the spurting water. To the side there are astro-turfed steps which lead down to Regent’s Canal – perfect for picnicking, drinking and chatting whilst watching swans and narrowboats glide by.

You can also admire the canal by walking along the towpath towards Camden and Paddington. Five minutes down the path, cross Somers Town Bridge and you’ll find Camley Street Natural Park – a two acre city oasis full of wildlife and plants. Head the other way towards Limehouse and you can detour to the London Canal Museum to learn all about the history behind the waterways.

Back in Kings Cross, art fans will love The House of Illustration – a gallery devoted entirely to illustration. They’re currently exhibiting the work of the iconic Quentin Blake, best known for his distinctive illustrations in Roald Dahl’s brilliant books – so head down if you’re a Twits/BFG/James & The Giant Peach fan!

If you want to get your own creative juices flowing, check out Drink, Shop, Do – a brilliantly bizarre venue which is essentially a cafe, bar, art studio, gift shop and nightclub all in one! It offers an adult’s take on arts and crafts during the week – think jewellery classes, lego building, ‘Naughty Nipple Tassel Making’ (yes, really)... all of which comes complete with food and plenty of booze. Then come the weekend, the place transforms into a fully fledged nightclub hosting glitter and throwback parties. Drink, Shop, Do really is as mad as it sounds, but a guaranteed fun and totally unique experience every time!

Of course this wouldn’t be a guide to Kings Cross without mentioning Platform 9 ¾. Home to the Hogwarts Express in the legendary Harry Potter films and books, King’s Cross Station pays homage to its hidden platform with a suitcase-piled trolley disappearing into the station’s brick wall. Who cares that your Hogwarts invitation clearly got lost in the post? You can still impress your muggle family and friends with snaps of you posing next to it...

Where do I eat?

The family-run French bakery Aux Pains de Papy is perfect for grab & go breakfasts, meaning it has become a firm favourite with commuters who can pick up a coffee and buttery croissant on the way to the station. But for a more elaborate brunch, try Drake and Morgan – they serve everything from classic fry ups to caramelised banana and pecan pancakes. There’s also an impressive brunch bar offering an array of smoothies and cocktails. One round of bellinis please barman...

KERB is THE hot spot when it comes to lunch. The bustling food market, located in Granary Square, is lined with leafy trees and colourful stalls which offer a diverse range of street food, from posh hot dogs to Hawaiian poke bowls. The market’s currently closed but will be making a highly anticipated return on 1st February 2019 – you know what to do…

Also in Granary Square is The Lighterman. This modern, grey brick building isn’t your average London pub – rather than dingy carpets and fruit machines The Lighterman is decked out with elegant brass tables, colourful stools and floor to ceiling windows. Outside no pokey beer gardens are to be found either – instead there’s a large balcony and a canalside terrace, both with ample seating. Foodwise, it’s also different – expect to find all the classics: pie, fish and chips, Sunday roasts, etc, but some more refined dining options too and a great fish and grill menu. For a light snack, nab one of the freshly baked sausage rolls or cheese twists on the bar – they come SpareRoom approved...

If afternoon tea’s your thing, visit the ever-prestigious Fortnum and Mason in St Pancras station. Despite its rather un-idyllic location, this spin off is just as fancy as the original Piccadilly department store. At the front you can browse and buy your favourite biscuits, jams and preserves, but in the back tea salon you’re free to indulge in delicate cakes, finger sandwiches and pots of tea – all for a surprisingly reasonable £24 a person.

Caravan is another foodie favourite for easy, picky small plates. The menu is made up of fresh, healthy dishes packed with plenty of veggies, as well as delicious fish and meat options – like sea bass and coconut red curry, and confit duck with pomegranate mint pesto. The backdrop is industrial style, with low-hanging lights. The perfect spot for casual dinners with good friends.

If you want to go all out, do it at German Gymnasium. What was once a purpose-built gymnasium has now been converted into a stylish restaurant, serving refined but traditional German dishes such as Schnitzel and leberknödelsuppe (calf liver dumplings in a beef broth). The decor is worlds away from the long, wooden tables of Bierkeller – marble floors, blush seating, exquisite floral arrangements and a grand double staircase lead up to the mezzanine restaurant.

Last stop on your culinary tour: Coal Drops Yard. This brand new development is a maze of cobbled streets, brimming with shops, bars, restaurants and strings of cute lights. The yard’s culinary offering includes the likes of tapas at Barrafina, Bodega Rita’s Modern American deli-dining, tacos at Casa Pastor and wine, cheese and oysters at The Drop.

And the drinks?

The Big Chill is infamous in King’s Cross – think lively vibes, green walls and a hot pink bar. It’s known for being hectic at night, but if you want to escape the dancefloor hit the roof terrace – with hanging paper lanterns and huts for a much cooler, chilled out energy. The Big Chill serve all your classic cocktails alongside new classics, all for good prices.

If you want a unique and quirky night try Spiritland – a ‘listening bar’ which offers an alternative music experience with sit down food and drinks (no more plastic cups and mosh pits…) Throughout the day programmed music (and radio) plays on the world-class Living Voice sound, whilst DJs take over at night. Naturally, the place is decked out like 1970s recording studio – think sub speakers, vinyls, booth seating– which makes for a fun and different bar backdrop.

And for a fancy drink? The Booking Office. Think: red brick walls, arched windows and seriously inventive cocktails. Anyone for a mushroom martini?

What are your favourite spots in Kings Cross? Let us know!

Photo credits: duncanh1, saz86, abukij.

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