I’ve not crushed this hard on a hotel since falling for The Standard’s very first offering, over in LA’s glittering West Hollywood, in the early noughties. It was a heady time, all those racy-steamy parties, rooms you could ride a Mini round, views over a shimmering downtown LA and hi-res pink inflatables in the pool way before hi-res pink inflatables were a twinkle in Instagram’s eyes. And our love affair with The Standard and its growing brood has been a beautiful thing ever since.
Because they’ve nailed that thing you can’t quite put your finger on, see. But we’ll give it a go for the sake of this piece. And seeing as you’re here, we’ll start with a bit of a showbiz anecdote. When we interviewed Ian Schrager (he off-of Studio 54, impeccable taste and inventing the boutique hotel as we know it when he opened Morgan’s in NYC with his best gay chum, Steve Rubell, back in 1984) at his SoHo loft, he said great hotels are all about touches.
Take The Standard London, in Kings Cross, and you’ll see what he means. Brutalist on the outside and unloved for decades (it was the ‘70s extension to Camden Town Hall), it fell into general scuzziness along with much of Kings Cross over the proceeding years when the only people frequenting these parts were ladies of the night, gays of the all-night nightclubs and the poor sods who had stumped up for one of the by-the-hour B&Bs. The resurrection and regeneration and gentrification of Kings Cross is oft spoken of and has been a super smash-hit success, and I don’t care what anyone says. And The Standard decided to get in on the act in the best way they know how: spot an un-obvious building with potential, zhuzh like their dividends depended on it, and come up with a humdinger of a special place to be.
Hundreds of millions or billions or similar later, and this brutalist bit of meh has been turned into an homage to having a bloody great time, beautifully. Even the lift is of the exoskeletal (‘outside’ in old money) kind, and bright red to make the building pop. It’s fun and quirky and people point at it from the Euston Road, which is totally spot-on for a Standard, a preview of what’s to come.
Step inside, love, and it’s a punch-drunk 70s glam-sex fantasia. Hooray! Shawn Hausman Design are the ones you’ll be bobbing curtseys to in deference to one of the most affecting hotel interiors we ever did see, and we’ve been around. Ask anyone. Colour, more colour, even more colour than that. Geometric shapes all over the place that just, work. Retro tiles, kitsch bar stools, Shagpile carpets on walls. Great lighting. Really great lighting. Brooding corners and come-hither leather sofas and lolling foliage. And maybe it’s the drink talking but bars, everywhere. The kind that it’s criminal not to prop up. It’s all just so, darn, incredibly, sexy.
And one of those bar/restaurants is an actual library, like the ones that have all been closed down, with not just smart art books but all sorts of books. You certainly don’t need to worry about your date turning up late: you could probably start a degree course while you were waiting. And the food is impressive. At lunch – bottomless Prosecco seeing as you ask, or alcoholic slush puppies should the mood take you – the person to my left actually went, ‘This food is seriously impressive!!’ With two exclamation marks and everything.
Another restaurant, up on the tenth floor (you go up that exoskeletal lift to get to it), is called Decimo, because of the tenth-floor thing and that being ‘tenth’ in Spanish and the chef being Michelin-starred Peter Sanchez-Iglesias, whose Spanish and Mexican credentials are up to here and then a bit higher. Take in those views across the London skyline as you tuck into gambas rojas and a margarita with a difference.
In the rooms, it’s more, then less, then even more of the same with our suite offering the opportunity to have a bath – advisably with a swimsuit on – in the outdoor tub, on a huge terrace with wide-lens views over St. Pancras Station. The decor is slightly mid-century modern, slightly millennial with leathers and brick tiles and woods and sofa arrangements that just beg you to have friends over. Oh and great coffee, like really great coffee. The filter stuff, with a cute Hario jug and an in-house Ozone blend courtesy of clever Hackney people, and so not one of those hotel-ubiquitous Nespresso machines that spurts out gaggy caffeine shots. Oh and a nourishing mask. Because what’s a mask if it’s not nourishing?
Then there’s a shower big enough for entertaining, and a dimmer switch in the loo because who doesn’t want to do one’s business in good lighting. And the comfiest bed this side of a cumulus and beautiful glassware, covetable beautiful glassware, elegant stems and glass tumblers that are ribbed for your pleasure. Even His & His Stutterheim raincoats hanging right there in your almost-walk-in wardrobe for you to use should it rain. They think of everything!
In fact, every fixture, fitting, light, knob, dressing gown, coat hanger is a winner. Touches, you see. Even the ‘Do Not Disturb’ is gorgeous. And the merch, goddamnit. From the liveried-up sweatshirts to prove you have good taste in hotels to the pop-art water bottles to the gay-friendly brooches right up to the dinky notepads for those very important thoughts you keep having. You’ll just want to be all of these things.
The Standard London is smart and fun, which is rare in hotels. Some do one, others the other. Rare is the sexy beast that does both. In one fell swoop of a legendary great time it’s leapt to the top or our favourite hotels in London. Sod it, the world. We’ll even put our finger on it.