Busy, cosmopolitan, grimy, cool, kitsch and glamorous meet head on in King’s Cross and first time visitors may be a bit overwhelmed. So if you’re wondering where to visit first, here are a list of five of the best things to do in the King’s Cross area – a list we devised recently while staying at a King’s Cross hotel.
1. King’s Cross Station and Platform 9 and ¾
Kings Cross Station is one of London’s busiest transport hubs and will more than likely be your port of arrival in the area. But don’t think it’s just another boring building – the famous Platform 9 and ¾ from the Harry Potter books and films can be found there. Only those with mystical powers can run through the solid brick wall and emerge on the platform on the other side. There’s a baggage trolley stuck halfway out of the wall if you care to test your powers! When you emerge on street level look back and take in the gothic spires of St Pancras International terminal which has been restored to its Victorian glory – it will surely cast its own architectural spell over you.
2 The British Library
Just down the road from the station is the British Library which houses the UK’s largest collection of books – rare, old, new, common or colourful, you can find it there. Browse the collections, find a quiet corner to read or write or just luxuriate in the silence inside.
The highlight is the King’s Library, a massive collection of classic books collected by King George III who ruled from 1760 to 1820. His tomes are displayed in a central pillar of glass and metal and even a quick glance at those shelves is worth making some time for.
3. Exmouth Market
Exmouth Market is a strip of shops, restaurants and independent bars and was a five minute walk from our accommodation at the Tune Hotel in King’s Cross. There are tapas bars including the famous Morito which serves small bites and delicious wines. A cool place is Bar Kick where you can play foosball (table soccer) and have a few beers while you watch a match. If you’re early you can catch market stalls on the weekends and pick up some locally made bargains.
4. Go for a gander around Spa Fields
Tucked behind Exmouth Market is the picturesque park Spa Fields. If you have children, the park has a great playground for them to enjoy. The perfect place for a picnic, Spa Fields looks stunning in spring when the bougainvillea is blooming. But if that’s not enough purple for you, there’s also a lavender garden. But if you’d rather do something more active than smell the flowers, you can play tennis on the courts in Spa Fields for free.
5. Drink, Shop, Do
This café does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a super retro parlour of cakes, coffee and tea and Scrabble games by day and a swinging cocktail bar and art space by night. It’s a trendy place to spend an afternoon or an evening and thankfully it’s reasonably priced.
Drink, Shop, Do features readings by writers, knitting classes, dance classes, silk screen printing and painting all under the one roof filled with knick-knacks and antiques for sale. It’s a little girly, which is why Carmen loves it. Best of all it’s just a quick walk from Kings Cross Station so it’s a perfect spot to wait for a train or just watch the world go by.