Area Focus - King’s Cross & Bloomsbury

King’s Cross & Bloomsbury

Posted on 11 June 2008

Area Focus - King’s Cross & Bloomsbury

The multi-million pound transformation of central London’s scruffiest corner has begun. Karen Doyle finds a rejuvenated King’s Cross has much to offer the capital’s event organisers

King’s Cross has never been a destination in its own right. In fact, leaving – via the busy station – has usually been the only reason to go there at all. But the face of London’s most maligned district is about to change. From the ground, it might look like one giant building site, but it will soon be Europe’s busiest transport hub.

The catalyst for the regeneration is the opening of the new Eurostar terminal at St Pancras International. On 14 November 2007 the first train from Paris will arrive on a high-speed line that knocks nearly half an hour off the cross-Channel journey time.

And of course, with millions of pounds being poured in to its facilities and appearance, King’s Cross is becoming a more serious prospect for event organisers. There are exciting openings – such as the Wellcome Collection Conference Centre – and established venues are already experiencing an increase in demand.

Others are gearing up for an influx of international visitors. ‘Events in King’s Cross and Bloomsbury create such a buzz at the moment,’ says David Wolanski of catering company The Recipe. ‘It’s the hottest place to be right now because everyone wants to be close to the new gateway to Europe.’ It’s hoped that in time the distinctive gothic interior of St Pancras will enclose a ‘destination station’. So it’s goodbye to the usual depressing array of coffee stands and identikit pubs and hello to a smart brasserie, boutique shopping and a fresh food market – not to mention the longest Champagne bar in Europe. ‘We want to make railway travel chic again,’ says Ben Ruse of London & Continental Railways. ‘St Pancras will be a place to visit even if you’re not catching a train – a centre for hospitality and entertainment.’

But this is just the beginning of the makeover of an area once best known as the capital’s red light district. The 67 acres around King’s Cross will be transformed over the next 13 years into 4.9m sq ft of premium office space, and 495,000sq ft of shops.

High-profile companies are also endorsing King’s Cross’s potential, and the area is looking forward to some new arrivals. The Guardian will be moving its entire news operation to King’s Place in 2008. Project manager Luke Dodd says: ‘It’s a great development in an area which is undergoing major regeneration, where the transport links are second to none.’

More changes are afoot just down in the road in the more genteel Bloomsbury. The regeneration of the city’s intellectual quarter – partly a knock-on effect of the King’s Cross development – has been a much quieter affair. However, it means that this area – which has all the benefits of a West End location but none of the hustle and bustle – will also be drawing in more events business.

‘Bloomsbury has changed a great deal over the last few years to become an exciting and vibrant area in its own right,’ says Robert Girvan of the Congress Centre, a conference facility off Tottenham Court Road. ‘Gradually, the tourist hotels in the Russell Square area have been smartened up and new bars and restaurants have sprung up.’

With so much potential for hosting great events in these two very different areas, Square Meal has dedicated the following pages to showcasing the best of what’s on offer. Bloomsbury and King’s Cross cover a diverse section of London – from bustling Tottenham Court Road to edgy Mornington Crescent, via the buttoned-up formality of Gray’s Inn Road – and between them, they have something for everybody.


All Star Lanes

WHAT: Hip luxury bowling venue with classic American diner, cocktail bar and a private bowling room

BEST FOR: Socialising with clients or teambuilding

TOP TIP: Groups of 30 to 75 can hire the private room – £300 an hour gets you a personal bartender and mixologist, as well as bowling and shoe hire

Bloomsbury Place, WC1B 4DA, tel: 020 7025 2676 FR: 2 M: 20 D: - R: 75 OA: -

The Building Centre

WHAT: London’s only dedicated exhibition centre for the built environment, featuring a giant model of central London, two exhibition galleries and the 200-capacity Seminar Suites

BEST FOR: Any event connected to building materials, construction, architecture or design – including conferences, meetings, product launches and exhibitions

TOP TIP: Hold a drinks reception on the light and airy ground floor where models of London’s biggest future developments provide a great talking point

26 Store Street, WC1E 7BT, tel: 020 7692 6207

FR: 3 M: 200 D: 70 R: 500 OA: -

Bloomsbury Ballroom

WHAT: An opulent Art Deco venue with an impressively designed ballroom and attached Crush and Long bars featuring funky 70s decor

BEST FOR: A dinner or awards ceremony for 250 with a live band or stage performance

TOP TIP: Book this one early – recent high- profile events include a launch party for MAC cosmetics hosted by Dita von Teese and a 10-year anniversary party for the achingly hip Wallpaper magazine

Victoria House, Bloomsbury Square, WC1B 4DA, tel: 020 7287 3834

FR: 2 M: - D: 250 R: 800 OA: -

Bloomsbury Club

WHAT: A purpose-built event facility run by European Events over the festive season, set within its own private gardens behind wrought iron gates

BEST FOR: Huge Christmas parties of up to 1,800 standing with a ‘Lavish’ theme – think rich lighting, floral patterns and rococo colours and textures

TOP TIP: For more intimate events (relatively speaking) hire the VIP Room for 400 seated or 600 standing

Russell Square, Guilford Street, WC1N 1DN, tel: 0870 011 1991

FR: 2 M: 850 D: 800 R: 1,800 OA: -

Bloomsbury Theatre

WHAT: Part of University College London, this spacious venue can accommodate anything from small board meetings through to large-scale seminars or product launches

BEST FOR: A conference of up to 535, although parties or dinners can be accommodated in the reception areas or adjacent dining hall

TOP TIP: Not everyone knows about The Studio, a modern meeting space below the main stage for up to 50 that boasts a sprung wooden floor, a private kitchenette and a piano

Gordon Street, WC1H 0AH, tel: 020 7679 2777

FR: 3 M: 535 D: 100 R: 100 OA: -

British Library

WHAT: A sprawling, architecturally modern building that can host numerous events – from a barbecue on the outdoor terrace to meetings, product launches and media events in the purpose-built conference centre

BEST FOR: Impressing literary intellectuals and history buffs. They’ve got a copy of Magna Carta there, you know

TOP TIP: The King’s Library Restaurant overlooks a striking six-storey glass tower containing the Library of King George III, making a great focal point for dinners or award ceremonies

96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB, tel: 020 7412 7222

FR: 11 M: 225 D: 280 R: 300 OA: 300 

Camden Centre

WHAT: An art deco hall located directly opposite St Pancras Station with attached foyer and bar area

BEST FOR: A large-scale dinner-dance or awards ceremony for up to 500, with pre-dinner drinks in the adjoining bar area

TOP TIP: Use the balconies as VIP areas

Town Hall, Judd Street, WC1H 9JE, tel: 020 7974 5633

FR: 2 M: 650 D: 500 R: 750 OA: -

Charles Dickens Museum

WHAT: The Victorian novelist’s London home also houses the world’s most important collection of material relating to him

BEST FOR: Book launches, poetry readings and private tours for up to 10 people

TOP TIP: Add interest to a cocktail party by booking all four floors of the house, allowing guests to mingle throughout

48 Doughty Street, WC1N 2LX, tel: 020 7405 2127

FR: 4 M: 25 D: 20 R: 80 OA: -

Congress Centre

WHAT: An architecturally renowned Modernist building, with several naturally lit meeting rooms, including the sizeable Congress Hall which comes with all the latest conference gadgetry and is fitted with colour-changing LED lights for easy theming

BEST FOR: Large, hi-tech meetings

TOP TIP: The Bedford Suite, a self-contained collection of three intimate meeting rooms seating 10, 14 and 25, is part of the Congress Centre and located just around the corner

28 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3LS, tel: 020 7467 1318

FR: 16 M: 500 D: 250 R: 800 OA: -

The Gymnasium

WHAT: The former headquarters of the German Gymnasium Society

BEST FOR: Product launches and parties in the gallery or 400-capacity hall. Two boardrooms are also available

TOP TIP: The Gymnasium is less than 50 feet from the brand-new St Pancras International, where high-speed trains
await to whisk you to Paris, Brussels and the rest of England

Pancras Road, NW1 2TB, tel: 020 7837 4292

FR: 4 M: 300 D: 240 R: 400

The Foundling Museum

General Chiropractic Council

WHAT: Thirteen meeting rooms with natural daylight and a flexible layout

BEST FOR: Hearings in a specially designed room with a capacity for 20 and a public theatre accommodating 70

TOP TIP: Catering for your event can be organised in advance

44 Wicklow Street, WC1X 9HL, tel: 020 7713 5155

FR: 13 M: 70 D: - R: - OA: -

Imagination Gallery

WHAT: A unique gallery showcase within the award-winning Imagination building

BEST FOR: Events that make the most of the bright and modern surroundings – previous parties have been hosted by Vogue and Julien Macdonald

TOP TIP: The five-storey atrium makes an airy space for receptions of up to 350

South Crescent, 25 Store Street, WC1E 7BL, tel: 020 7323 3300

FR: 2 M: 180 D: 100 R: 350 OA: 200

Lion Court Conf. Centre

WHAT: Handy meeting rooms just two minutes from Holborn tube station

BEST FOR: Events requiring natural daylight

TOP TIP: Make use of up-to-date technology including video-conferencing and rear projection screens.

25 Procter Street, WC1V 6NY, tel: 020 7067 1126

FR: 17 M: 85 D: - R: 85 OA: -

London House

WHAT: Tucked away in leafy Mecklenburgh Square, this stunning Grade II-listed building has seven function rooms, all with their own personality and features, such as oak-panelled walls and high vaulted ceilings

BEST FOR: Productive meetings in a quiet and studious atmosphere

TOP TIP: Four-star en-suite accommodation is available at the Goodenough Club which is located in the square

Mecklenburgh Square, WC1N 2AB, tel: 020 7753 0578 

FR: 7 M: 250 D: 220 R: 500 OA: - 

Magic Circle Headquarters

WHAT: A private club where magicians from all over the world meet regularly to invent illusions, share secrets and master their magic. The venue includes an auditorium, clubroom, bar and various function rooms

BEST FOR: Dinner in the impressive Devant Room, set among the illusions of yesteryear

TOP TIP: Hire magicians for live entertainment during your dinner or reception

12 Stephenson Way, NW1 2HD, tel: 0845 006 2500 

FR: 4 M: 162 D: 80 R: 165 OA: -

Mary Ward House

WHAT: A fascinating Grade I-listed building dating back to 1898. Each finely proportioned room has its own unique character and ambience, from the distinctive library to the extensive Mary Ward Hall

BEST FOR: Outdoor receptions and barbecues in the large outdoor courtyard, which together with the adjacent garden provides a tranquil haven in central London

TOP TIP: Be sure to take a look at the library, which was recently transformed to look like a classroom at Yale and used for filming The Good Shepherd starring Angelina Jolie and Robert De Niro

5-7 Tavistock Place, WC1H 9SN, tel: 020 7387 9681

FR: 3 M: - D: 200 R: 350 OA: 350

October Gallery

WHAT: A lovely three-storey Victorian building with light and airy exhibition space, tranquil courtyard, a café and two meeting rooms

BEST FOR: Cocktail parties spread out between the gallery, café and courtyard

TOP TIP: Additional space is available in the Theatre, a large, naturally lit room; or the Club Room, with its dark leather armchairs and Oriental carpets

24 Old Gloucester Street, WC1N 3AL, tel: 020 7831 1618

FR: 4 M: 80 D: - R: 150 OA: 150

The Raceway

WHAT: The largest indoor go-karting circuit in the UK, offering customers bespoke racing attire, high-speed 270cc karts, health club-style locker rooms, catering facilities and two bars

BEST FOR: Teambuilding exercises – ask for the endurance race, which has been specifically devised for teams of 20 drivers and more

TOP TIP: Formula One junkies will enjoy the track’s replications of famous corners designed to test drivers’ skills

York Way, N1 0UZ, tel: 020 7833 1000

FR: 1 M: - D: - R: 300 OA: –

Renoir Cinema

WHAT: A stylish art-house cinema overlooking leafy Brunswick Square. Part of the newly refurbished Brunswick Centre which also houses several bars and restaurants

BEST FOR: Screenings, presentations and conferences with top-quality technical facilities for up to 251 guests

TOP TIP: An unusual glass reception and box office area leads down a double staircase which splits as it descends into the foyer, allowing guests to make a grand entrance

The Brunswick, WC1N 1AW, tel: 020 7438 9569

FR: 3 M: 251 D: - R: 80 OA: -


WHAT: A trendy multi-purpose venue spread out over four floors, incorporating three bars, two dance floors and a stage for live performances

BEST FOR: Live music gigs or parties – previous performers include Coldplay, Foo Fighters, Moby, Stereophonics, Robbie Williams and Joss Stone

TOP TIP: The Glass Bar, with its dim lights and comfortable interior, creates a discreet atmosphere and an ideal VIP space

275 Pentonville Road, N1 9NL,  tel: 020 7833 2022

FR: 4 M: 400 D: 400 R: 1,145 OA: -

Wellcome Collection Conference Centre

WHAT: A flexible event space with a 154-seat auditorium, several function rooms and a quirky art gallery located near Euston station

BEST FOR: Events relating to medicine, health and wellbeing

TOP TIP: Look out for the quirky pieces of artwork dotted around the venue, such as the giant jelly baby and an ancient mummy

183 Euston Road, NW1 2BE, tel: 020 7611 2200

FR: 7 M: 154 D: 60 R: 200 OA: -


The Academy

WHAT: Cosy four-star boutique hotel, spread over five Georgian properties with two private gardens off Bloomsbury Square

BEST FOR: Meetings in The Boardroom or Alchemy, with refreshing breaks in the private gardens or sunny conservatory

TOP TIP: Event organisers have the option to hire Bloomsbury House, a private wing of the hotel, which sleeps 16 guests and has its own garden for events

21 Gower Street, WC1E 6HG, tel: 020 7631 4115

FR: 6 M: 30 D: 44 R: 80 OA: 50

The Ambassadors

WHAT: A four-star hotel that recently underwent a multi-million pound refurbishment. It now features a fresh range of function rooms that are all light, airy and modern

BEST FOR: Anything from small training sessions to meetings for up to 260 delegates

TOP TIP: Catering focuses on healthy food which is freshly prepared from seasonal ingredients, including complimentary fruit, orange juice and homemade flapjacks to snack on during breaks

12 Upper Woburn Place, WC1H 0HX, tel: 020 7693 5400

FR: 8 M: 260 D: 200 R: 220 OA: -

Bonnington Hotel London

WHAT: A historic four-star hotel, conveniently located between Holborn and Russell Square tube stations

BEST FOR: Meetings in the popular Derby Suite with its high ceilings and natural daylight, accommodating up to 200

TOP TIP: The Bonnington Rooms, overlooking Bloomsbury Square with bespoke boardrooms and a classic ballroom, open later this year

92 Southampton Row, WC1B 4BH, tel: 020 7400 3808 

FR: - M: 200 D: 150 R: - OA: -

Hilton London Euston

WHAT: Modern interiors in a Victorian setting, with 11 meeting rooms and a beautiful conservatory restaurant

BEST FOR: Executive board meetings, conferences and post-meeting dinners

TOP TIP: Lunches in the elegant, light-filled Woburn Place dining room are a real

17-18 Upper Woburn Place, WC1H 0HT, tel: 020 7943 4500

FR: 11 M: 1100 D: 90 R: 120 OA: -

Grange Holborn Hotel

WHAT: A striking hotel offering seven interconnecting and flexible suites with a magnificent dining and entertaining facility

BEST FOR: Glitzy board meetings – each room boasts opulent chandeliers, adding that little extra touch of glamour

TOP TIP: The Constellations panoramic restaurant is adorned with a twinkling, star-strewn ceiling, making it ideal for an elegant dinner party or reception

50-60 Southampton Row, WC1B 4AR, tel: 020 7242 1800

FR: 15 M: 320 D: 230 R: 400 OA: -

Hotel Russell

WHAT: A Victorian building overlooking leafy Russell Square, it offers conference facilities and meeting rooms in an opulent setting

BEST FOR: Dinner dances in the elegant Wharncliffe Suite or hi-tech events in the Woburn Suite, already equipped with sound, lighting and projection screens

TOP TIP: Dedicated, on-site technical and secretarial support is available in the purpose-built Business Centre

Russell Square, WC1B 5BE, tel: 020 7837 6470

FR: 19 M: 450 D: 350 R: 800 OA: -

Jurys Great Russell Street Hotel

WHAT: A Grade-II listed building designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, this conveniently located four-star hotel offers 12 function rooms for a variety of events

BEST FOR: Functions in the George V and Queen Mary ‘character’ halls with their impressive high ceilings and natural daylight

TOP TIP: For more intimate affairs the serene Chapel or beautifully restored Library can host up to 30

16-22 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3NN, tel: 020 7347 1000 

FR: 12 M: 300 D: 220 R: 300 OA: -

myhotel Bloomsbury

WHAT: A magnet for creative media types, Myhotel comprises 78 bedrooms, two meeting rooms, a trendy bar area and a modern penthouse

BEST FOR: Board meetings or private dining with a difference in the ‘east’ and ‘west’ meeting rooms, each designed with the influence of feng shui in mind

TOP TIP: Choose from five different themes – relax, harmonise, energise, centre or create – with inspiring crystals, fresh flowers, delicate fragrances and mouth-watering menus to keep you and your delegates focused throughout the day

11-13 Bayley Street, WC1B 3HD, tel: 020 7667 6000

FR: 4 M: 45 D: 26 R: 40 OA: -

The Montague on the Gardens

WHAT: A luxury London townhouse hotel overlooking a private garden, with seven event spaces ranging from the 150-capacity Great Russell room to a small, sunny conservatory

BEST FOR: Dedicated personal service from the famed Red Carnation brand, including your very own events co-ordinator

TOP TIP: The chef can provide themed interludes such as ice-cream or health breaks 

15 Montague Street, WC1B 5BJ, tel: 020 7637 1001

FR: 7 M: 120 D: 100 R: 150 OA: 250

Novotel London Euston

WHAT: A business-orientated hotel just a five minute walk from St Pancras, King’s Cross and Euston stations, containing no less than 17 meeting rooms and the 446-capacity Shaw Theatre with separate entrance, foyer and bar

BEST FOR: Meetings, conferences and cocktail receptions

TOP TIP: Check out the fantastic views over the new St Pancras station from the top floor – it’s from here that Eurostar shows off its new terminal

100-110 Euston Road, NW1 2AJ, tel: 020 8237 7416

FR: 17 M: 446 D: 290 R: - OA: -

Radisson Edwardian Kenilworth Hotel

WHAT: Luxurious central London hotel with ten function rooms hosting up to 120 guests

BEST FOR: A meeting, conference or training course in the Bloomsbury or Kenilworth suites – the beautiful wood-panelled rooms have their own private bar and foyer areas

TOP TIP: Enjoy a private meal in the Creation restaurant where a glass partition enables guests to watch chefs preparing the food

97 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3BL, tel: 020 7666 2322

FR: 10 M: 120 D: 100 R: 150 OA: -


‘In the decade or so that I have been writing restaurant guides I have never seen a rough area come up so far and so fast. King’s Cross has transformed itself and is on the way to becoming another Islington. I had to re-jig the book and add an entire section to accommodate the great new restaurants.’
– Charles Campion, food critic and author of Campion’s London Restaurant Guide.

Abeno is a social dining experience where a charming waitress will prepare the house speciality, okonomiyaki, on a hot plate in front of you. The restaurant can be hired exclusively for 40 guests. 47 Museum Street, WC1A 1LY, tel: 020 7405 3211

Acorn House is a funky environmentally friendly restaurant built from organic and recycled materials. It has no private room but can be hired for 65 seated or 120 standing. 69 Swinton Street, WC1X 9NT, tel: 020 7812 1842

Busaba Eathai, part of a Thai mini-chain, serves delicious, ‘cheap-and-cheerful’ food in a chic setting and has a 22-capacity private dining room ideal for business meetings or lunches. 22 Store Street, WC1E 7DF, tel: 020 7299 7900

Blue Door Bistro & Chef’s Table are two connected dining rooms at The Montague Hotel. There are three private areas available for parties of up to 24. 15 Montague Street, WC1B 5BJ, tel: 020 7637 1001

Camino is the first restaurant to open in the new Regent’s Quarter complex in King’s Cross. Hire the creatively decorated restaurant for 60 or the lively bar area for 180. Outdoor seating is also available in the courtyard. 3 Varnishers Yard, N1 9NR, tel: 020 7841 7331

Cigala is a buzzing tapas restaurant in Bloomsbury with a basement bar available for private events of 10 to 30 people. 54 Lamb’s Conduit Street, WC1N 3LW, tel: 020 7405 1717

Driver is a bar-cum-café with an exotic twist in the heart of King’s Cross. With a total capacity of 150, it’s ideal for both private parties and corporate functions. 2-4 Wharfdale Road, N1 9RY, tel: 020 7278 8827

Kobe Jones, specialising in Japanese-Californian fusion cooking, has an intimate private room for up to 40 guests. The entire restaurant, bar and lounge area is available for exclusive hire and can accommodate 150. 111a Great Russell Street, WC1B 3NQ, tel: 020 7300 3250

Konstam & The Prince Albert is an environmentally-friendly initiative from chef Oliver Rowe, with all produce sourced within the M25. Its private room seats 25. 2 Acton Street, WC1X 9NA, tel: 020 7833 5040

Malabar Junction can provide a great party atmosphere and group menus for up to 100 people in the spacious atrium dining room. 107 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3NA, tel: 020 7580 5230

Perseverance, a restored Victorian gastropub in Russell Square, offers private dining for up to 25. 63 Lamb’s Conduit Street, WC1N 3NB, tel: 020 7405 8278

Salaam Namaste, a modestly furnished Indian restaurant which has received rave reviews for its food, is available for private parties and events for up to 60 guests.
68 Millman Street, WC1N 3EF, tel: 020 7405 3697

Smithy’s Wine Bar & Restaurant has specially devised buffet and canapé menus, and can be hired for parties and events for between 50 and 200. Live music, themed decor and entertainment can also be arranged.
15-17 Leeke Street, WC1X 9HZ, tel: 020 7278 5949

Snazz Sichuan, an authentic Chinese restaurant in the backstreets of King’s Cross, has a basement room for hire which can accommodate 30 for meetings or private dining. 37 Charlton Street, NW1 1JD, tel: 020 7388 0808

Tas is part of the popular chain of bright and modern Turkish restaurants. Group menus make meals a fun and sociable experience, and the entire venue can be hired for up to 60 people. 22 Bloomsbury Street, WC1B 3QJ, tel: 020 7637 4555

Vats Wine Bar & Restaurant is popular for after-work drinks, with a 40-capacity private room that offers a secluded area for meetings or private dining on the competitively-priced French food. 51 Lamb’s Conduit Street, WC1N 3NB, tel: 020 7242 8963


Bloomsbury Lanes is a venue with eight bowling lanes, a classic American diner and the Kingpin Suite Private Room – a stylish 4,000sq ft flexible party venue for up to 500. Bedford Way, WC1H 9EU, tel: 020 7183 1979

The Big Chill House is a funky bar, restaurant and nightclub incorporating three floors of event spaces, from the underground Snug to outdoor Sun Terrace with an overall capacity of 550. 257-259 Pentonville Road, N1 9NL, tel: 020 7427 2540

Canal 125 is a classic, laid-back boozer with three function rooms and a heated outdoor terrace that can host up to 160 standing. 125 Caledonian Road, N1 9RG, tel: 020 7837 1924

Chapel Bar provides the ultimate ‘couches and cocktails’ venue in North London with a Sistine Chapel-inspired ceiling, dancefloor and terrace. The entire venue can be hired out for 160. 29a Penton Street, N1 9PX, tel: 020 7833 4090

The Cross Kings is a quirky offbeat venue with a chilled-out lounge area and a basement party area. It is available for exclusive hire for parties of up to 400. 126 York Way, N1 0AX, tel: 020 7278 8318

Egg is a stylish, sassy nightclub with a balcony terrace, lounging hammocks and even a spacious garden. With four different spaces, the entire venue can accommodate 750. 200 York Way, N7 9AP, tel: 020 7609 8364

Traffic is a new venue featuring an upstairs area with its own bar. It can be hired for private parties of up to 50, while the entire venue can host 200. 1 Vernon Place, WC1A 2EP, tel: 020 3206 0011

This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, Autumn 2007.