As a man born and bred in the south, yet spent his formative university years in the north, I still have a lot of friends from God’s Own Country (more commonly known as Yorkshire to those without whippets).
And so it is that I spend perhaps more time than I’d prefer in King’s Cross – the gateway to the north – either in thirsty welcomes or delayed goodbyes. As such, the area has always felt like such a transitory, transactional place.
But then The Standard opened – and it is here to stay: a hotel so obvious in both its location (practically opposite the station) and its architecture (more brutalist than a soviet sledgehammer) that it’s impossible to ignore.
When it comes to status, The Standard Hotels group has trend-setting form. The likes of Chiltern Firehouse, Chateau Marmont and The Mercer were all spearheaded by them – and the same stardust has rubbed off here.
The Double Standard bar is the place to meet: enjoy crisp, classic cocktails before heading to the neighbouring restaurant, Isla. Both venues have sprawling street-level terraces, which are bordered by ferns, grasses and palms. Once they’ve had a chance to grow, the whole urban oasis vibe will really pay off.
Isla’s name is a nod to Great Britain – not in a Brexity way, more a celebration of produce
Isla’s name is a nod to Great Britain – not in a Brexity way, but more a celebration of produce from our land, soil and sea. Indeed, that’s how the sharing menu is broken down. In the latter sector, there’s Islay-cured salmon, Fowey mussels, and sea greens – each salty snacks that taste of the English coast.
That said, there are a few diversions from the national diet, including my favourite dish of the day – soft Iberico pork cooked in a chimichurri marinade and topped with shavings of daikon radish. I’d happily have ordered three of those and be done with it.
When it comes to drink there’s a strong leaning towards natural wines – including some excellent orange wines that accompany a long, lazy lunch so well.
Above all, The Standard has really raised the benchmark in this area. Now there’s not just a reason to pass through, but to stay.
The Standard London, 10 Argyle Street, King’s Cross, WC1H 8EG; standardhotels.com
For more information on Isla, see islalondon.com