I always find it exciting staying at a hotel overnight in London when I live here in the city. It's something that feels like such a treat when I'm so used to trekking about London on public transport on a Friday night, desperate to get home to my South London neighbourhood and settle in for the weekend.
So when I was asked to review Great Northern Hotel and it's restaurant Plum and Spilt Milk, I picked a free Friday evening and couldn't wait to spend the evening staying in Central London with my other half Steve.
Situated in probably one of the most convenient hotel spots in London, right within King's Cross station just a few minutes walk to the entrance to the Eurostar, is the Great Northern Hotel.
Built by architect Lewis Cubitt and first opening its doors in 1854, it was the first great railway hotel standing at the centre of London's revolutionary new age of steam. After recently undergoing a huge renovation, the building still remains as striking as ever with its slender and curved robust brick and was easy to find.
On arrival we were greeted by Director of Rooms, Anthony Thwaites, who was warm and welcoming and took us up to our room which was one of the Cubitt Rooms.
There are 91 rooms in total and three types of room - Cubitt, Couchette and Wainscot. The Cubitt room which we were staying in was painted in Olive green and cream (recognisably Farrow & Ball) with Parisienne style patterned glass mirrors and cream leather arched sofa and bed with a nicely concealed bathroom behind glass and wood double doors. The room had a lovely calming feel to it and despite being in the heart of London next to a busy station like King's Cross, you couldn't hear anything through the triple glazed windows.
We had a little time to relax in our room before dinner and went to explore the Pantry we had been told about, which exists on each floor of the hotel and is complimentary to guests. Featuring a Nespresso coffee machine, magazines, newspapers, retro sweets, biscuits and a fresh cake or pastries every day, the Pantry was one of the most novel refreshment ideas I've seen in a hotel. I always dislike the plastic kettle and cups with a wrapped up shortbread (if you're lucky) in your room on arrival and this is such a clever idea where you can help yourself to a complimentary coffee and cake then settle down on the sofa in your room with a magazine. I wish more hotels would do this.
After a lovely shower in the huge double rain shower in our room and a listen to the Northern Soul playlist on the bespoke designed in-room entertainment package, we headed down to the GNH Bar for a pre-dinner cocktail.
We were seated in comfy armchairs and perused an extensive cocktail menu before deciding on a King's Garden and a Northern Sour (both £8). The King's Garden came in a tall glass and was refreshing with flavours of cucumber, Gin and mint and the Northern Sour sweet and sour with its mixture of grapefruit, rhubarb and Cointreau.
After our drinks we headed up to the Plum + Spilt Milk restaurant which was striking with its round leather booths, darkly warming colours and impressive light features. We were seated in a corner in the middle of the room and had great views across the newly developed King's Cross.
To start with we ordered some nibbles of Yorkshire Pudding with Garlic and Broad Beans with Sea Salt (both £3) and a bottle of Argentinian Malbec for with our meal (£22). For starter I decided on Broadbeans, Pea Shoots and Caerphilly on Sourdough (£9.50) and Steve chose Potted King's Lynn Shrimps (£9.50).
The Broadbeans and Caerphilly were delicious and came with a Broadbean paste with beans, cheese and pea shoots loaded on top. The potted shrimp came with lemon and toasted sourdough and was wonderfully fresh and tasty.
Deciding on our main was a hard choice as there is so much choice at Plum + Spilt Milk and everything sounded hearty and tasty. After much deliberation I opted for the Salt Marsh Lamb Shank Hotpot (£18.50) and Steve chose the Day aged Angus Sirloin (£19) with sides of Beef Dripping Chips, Buttered Mash, Carrots with Coriander and Creamed Spinach (all £3).
The lamb came in a cast iron dish with the lamb shank sticking up in the middle of a topping of layered potato and looked very impressive. It tasted even better - the lamb literally fell off the bone and melted in the mouth and it was the best lamb shank I've ever eaten. The steak was cooked perfectly with the beef dripping chips crispy and fluffy and the carrots were a pretty sight of bright colours and all had an individual flavour to them.
Our helpful waitress allowed us a comfortable break before we looked at the pudding menu and even though we were full she persuaded us to try the Raspberry and Lemon Posset (£6.75) and we were glad she did. It came in a vintage style glass dish and was smooth and creamy with a sharp raspberry sauce and the two flavours worked perfectly together.
After a Cappuccino, we retired to bed and had a really quiet and comfy nights sleep. Breakfast was served in Plum + Spilt Milk and even though we weren't hungry enough for a big breakfast, it seemed rude not to try the breakfast menu out properly.
I ordered the Full English (£12) and Steve chose the Eggs Benedict (£8). The Full English came with good quality bacon and sausages and I had mine without the black pudding and eggs. The Eggs Benedict was a good size with two muffins and two poached eggs and the Hollandaise was perfect. After a short but interesting tour of the hotel by Anthony Thwaites, we checked out and felt slightly sad leaving such a lovely building of grandeur and calm.
We had a very pleasant visit to the Great Northern Hotel and Plum + Spilt Milk and it felt like such a treat in such a busy area of London. Dotty Dishes would highly recommend treating yourself to a visit.
Dotty Dishes was a guest of Great Northern Hotel and Plum + Spilt Milk.
Great Northern Hotel, King's Cross St Pancras Station, Pancras Road, London, N1C 4TB.