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King’s Cross’ latest opening focuses on treating guests as individuals. Louise Troy checks into the Megaro Hotel
Too often, visitors and event organisers using hotels can feel that they’re simply the latest anonymous arrival on a conveyor belt: they arrive, receive the standard treatment, and they’re marched out of the door again as soon as decency allows.
But not at the Megaro. After making his fortune running B&B’s, owner Tony Megaro was determined to put his name to a project with a personal touch. ‘We want to treat guests as people rather than numbers,’ explains Anthony O’Rawe, head of sales. ‘Our slogan is “it’s all about individuality”.’
Given the hotel’s location right next to the Euston Road exit of King’s Cross St Pancras station, its current competition is principally the Novotel Euston. To contend with such a behemoth, the Megaro’s approach is to offer a completely different experience – an intimate, boutique refuge with cosily luxurious surrounds.
Its small size – there are just 49 bedrooms over five floors – makes this achievable. ‘It’s a real find,’ says regular guest Karen Churchill, a manager at property consultancy company EC Harris. ‘The customer service is excellent – they can’t do enough for you – and the staff remember you when you’re a regular. It’s the complete opposite of those hotels where you can’t swing a cat in the rooms and you leave as soon as you can.’
The bedrooms are undeniably large for London – ‘you could hold a party in any of them,’ notes Churchill – because unlike in larger hotels, there are no singles.
For a particularly luxurious touch, try one of the rooms on the fifth or sixth floor, which move away from the more
traditional hotel feel lower down by bringing a little bit of Parisian-style apartment living to London. Instead of carpeted floors, there are bare boards, and the bathrooms have glass doors to allow guests to look out at the skyline while they soak in the tub.
Each of the rooms come with the all the normal goodies you’d expect… but often with that little extra twist. For example, rather than merely offering Wi-Fi connections, the hotel has integrated internet browsers into the 32” flat screen TVs instead.
And because it’s not part of a chain, the Megaro has been able to take some edgier design decisions, aided by its architect, Simon Hogg of Lanyon-Hogg. He was instrumental in turning this old bank building into a modern, welcoming and exciting place to stay and do business.
‘The location meant we knew that people would be arriving off trains and planes – confined spaces,’ he says. ‘So we decided to create somewhere where you could mentally and physically unpack your bags and see the sky.’
The result is a lobby flooded with light, and a central stairwell brightened up by a ‘reverse chandelier’ – an illuminated block of pencil-sized glass rods at the bottom.
Getting enough light into the two subterranean event spaces – the 36-cover restaurant and the 18-seater private dining room – presented a challenge.
The private room has a wall covered in five copper leaf panels, which reflect back the warm glow cast by the reddish timber veneer on the opposite wall. The aim was to create a modern interpretation of an ‘old clubland interior’.
The restaurant, which serves a full à la carte and express dining options to guests and is available for private hire, has an oval of glass built into the ceiling. ‘It acts like a sundial,’ says Hogg. ‘At lunchtime, the light lines up and streams through from the lobby.’
Equally innovative was the decision to cover the restaurant’s walls in leather (the undersides of the stairwell balustrade are upholstered, too, which must have been something of a labour of love). The soft surface means that conversations don’t ‘bounce’ around, making the space perfect for private business lunches.
From her first visit, Churchill noticed that the atmosphere in the dining room was not oppressive, even when she was the only one there. It left her free to concentrate on head chef Paul Ribbands’s food. ‘It’s delicious. I can’t fault it – and I’m quite fussy!’
There were, however, no problems illuminating the final space, the mezzanine meeting area. Here, two sides are taken up with windows, and there are skylights down the scoop of the room. ‘With the light coming through both sides through the arched windows from the street, I hope it feels a bit like a location from a 1950s black & white detective story,’ explains Hogg. ‘I wanted to get away from that perception that meeting rooms are enclosed spaces.’
The decor at the moment is a mixture of darker and lighter veneers and off-white paint, but the room will get a boost soon with the addition of a custom-made artwork. It’s likely to be in a similar vein to the specially commissioned pieces scattered around the bedrooms, which depict London scenes rendered in calming blues and greens.
Like so much of this building, the colours were deliberately chosen to help guests relax after a day travelling or working. As Hogg says: ‘It’s designed to be an enjoyable experience from the moment you cross the threshold to when you dip in your bath and look out over the skyline.’
Address: 23-27 Euston Road, NW1 2SD
Tel: 020 7843 2222
Email: [email protected]
Number of function rooms: 2
Private dining room (14/14/20)
Contact: Anthony O’Rawe, head of sales
This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, Summer 2008.