Instead of indulging in a Sunday nap, we headed out into London and up through the St Pancras station to reach the hotel. The driveway in front of it and the sidewalks around it are pleasantly calm, perhaps owing a bit to the intimidating presence of the building itself. We walked inside the main doors and were immediately met by security guard, earpiece and all.
"Where is the hotel's bar, please?" We inquired.
"The bar is full this evening and visiting it is not possible," he replied.
Shortly after this, a bellman arrived, whom we asked about maybe just taking a few more steps inside to see the lobby. "That is also not possible; the hotel is not open to the public." Is this like the Hotel de Crillon in Paris, we wondered to ourselves, where you plain aren't allowed inside unless you are a guest? But no, this is a Renaissance hotel, not the Crillon, and the press for the places has been great in the UK especially this week.
We wouldn't give up. We wanted to get some delicious pictures of the architectural masterpiece to show you guys, so we hung out by the door for a bit more. Over the next five minutes, the security guard turned away two more people, one an older man who said he'd seen this story in the Daily Mail and wanted to see it for himself, and a couple who arrived complete with luggage and inquired about staying that night. We're not sure what happened with the couple, but they may have been put off by the idea of paying £300 or so to stay a night in a hotel that first tried to shoo them out. Alas, the bellman did say that they've only got about 35 rooms up and running right now, out of 245 total.
Whatever; that's cool. It was a Sunday so we weren't going to bother asking for a peek in any of the rooms. We just wanted a drink, damnit. Eventually we persuaded the bellman to let us ask the bar's hostess if there would be a barstool opening up anytime soon. A minute later, we were sitting at the bar, ordering an £8 "Criterion Lemonade," surrounded by barely anyone else. "The bar is full," my ass.
In the end, we managed to sneak some photos (see them in the gallery above) and chat with the completely amicable bartenders. Ohthe date the bellman told us the hotel would allow "public guests?" May 5, or "thereabouts." That sort of delay means people, reading all the stories about the renovation and seeing the stunning photos now, will have forgotten about it. Or, as in our case, the folks most passionate about seeing London's new hotel gem will be turned off by the decidedly cold reception.
[Photos: Cynthia Drescher for HotelChatter]