From the minute you arrive at The Standard hotel in King’s Cross, London, it’s clear that there’s nothing standard about this five-star establishment.

he upside-down sign immediately alludes to what is hidden inside this quirky and unique hotel.

The word ‘cool’ may be overused, but it’s definitely justified for The Standard, which was created in collaboration with design gurus Shawn Hausman Design.

Housed in the former annex of Camden Town Hall, known to locals as ‘The Egg Crate’, the brutalist 1974 building has been meticulously restored and was the first Standard-branded hotel outside the United States. United.

Along with five other hotels in Los Angeles, New York (Meatpacking District, East Village), Miami Beach and the Maldives, the chain now plans to open its first Irish hotel in 2025, at Dublin Arch in the north of the city.

Their hotels often make headlines for their celebrity clientele. Madonna filmed a music video at one of their New York locations and stars pictured at the London property included models Kendall Jenner and Gigi and Bella Hadid, actress Emma Stone and singers Paloma Faith and Lily Allen.

Don’t be surprised to come across a famous face or two while strolling through the hotel or having a drink at the bar. I spotted a reality TV during my stay.

Stepping through the door, one is immediately struck by the decor of the hotel which, in a nod to the building’s heritage, is 70s chic with retro tiling, offbeat lighting, potted plants and leather sofas.

The prestigious Conde Nast Traveler magazine described it as “the essential [hotel] for the creative people of the capital” and it is easy to understand why.

With King’s Cross and St Pancras train stations on the hotel’s doorstep (you wouldn’t know it because you won’t hear a thing from your room), it’s the perfect base from which to explore the city.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, be sure to have your photo taken at Platform 9¬, which you can find in the station hall.

Also worth visiting is the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter attraction in Leavesden, Watford, a short train ride from the city centre.

The tour takes you behind the scenes to see the actual sets, including the Great Hall, Hogwarts castle, the misty and mysterious Forbidden Forest, Diagon Alley, the Hogwarts Express and more.

The Standard has 266 rooms ranging from cozy “cosy core” rooms to terraced suites with outdoor bath overlooking St Pancras.

Our room was a junior suite on the ninth floor which, with floor-to-ceiling windows, offered great views of the station’s magnificent facade.

The suite measures 32 x 39 square meters, so you have plenty of space. Additional equipment can be delivered to your room on request, including a Peloton bike and a Stutterheim raincoat for use throughout your stay. There’s also free coach cleaning, turndown service, and a brilliantly stocked minibar. In addition to a large rain shower in the bathroom, our room had a freestanding tub next to the bed.

The rooms are all different shapes and sizes, but I agree with another reviewer who said the world between them was “funkydelic”.

I had never stayed at a place like this and was overwhelmed. You can easily check in for a few days and never venture beyond the hotel thanks to its fantastic amenities and hip vibe.

There is also a wide variety of food and drink options, from the Isla restaurant and its terrace to the Double Standard bar and restaurant on the ground floor, with the most popular offerings including a “legendary burger”, an Aperol Spritz slushy and a bottomless Sunday. brunch. It’s the second longest bar in the UK, so there’s plenty of space to enjoy your evening.

Next door is the Library Lounge, where a carefully curated, dimly lit library pays homage to the building’s original use (it once housed Camden Council’s library), and Sounds Studio, home to the virtual cultural center Sometimes Radio. Late at night, the bar comes alive with guest DJs.

We had dinner at the Decimo restaurant on the 10th floor — a superb restaurant with Spanish and Mexican influences run by starred chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias. It features wood-fired cuisine of simple but stunning plates of meat, fish and vegetables surrounded by 360-degree views of London, with the restaurant only accessible by a red pill-shaped lift.

The delicacies I tasted during my visit easily rank among the best Mexican dishes I have ever tasted. Highlights included cauliflower tacos, a beautifully crispy charred leak with romesco sauce, and Cornish lamb in a mole sauce.

The standout dish was what was simply called pickled red peppers. Meat and fish are always my favorite dishes, so to be blown away by that was really surprising.

What arrived was smoked sweet chili bursting with flavor and served on a simple marble stone. It was clear that a lot of TLC had gone into this pepper, which literally melted in your mouth and was a real taste sensation. We quickly mopped it up with bread. I would come back just for that.

To wash down all that food, be sure to check out their margaritas and mezcal cocktails.

If you want to continue the party beyond the hotel, the train connections make the city your oyster.

For sightseeing, in a few minutes you can reach attractions such as Big Ben, the London Eye, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, Westminster Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, one of the many museums or a West End show.

London Zoo, the oldest scientific zoo in the world (it opened in Regent’s Park in 1828), is home to 750 species, making it one of the largest collections in the UK. Discover Tiger Territory, the zoo’s Sumatran tiger enclosure; Gorilla Kingdom, home to a group of western lowland gorillas; Penguin Beach, which is the largest penguin pool with penguins in an English zoo; and Meet the Monkeys, a walk-through enclosure that houses a troop of black-capped squirrel monkeys.

Whenever I visit London I always find something or a new place to try. If you haven’t been in a while, put it on your to-do list for 2022. You won’t be disappointed.

The Standard, 10 Argyle Street, London, WC1H 8EG.