For our trip to London, choosing a hotel was one of the easiest things I had to do. Knowing that we were staying for five nights, I immediately started to think about hotels where I could get a free night. The Citi Prestige gives the fourth night free on paid stays but I didn’t want to pay for a hotel this trip. Hilton offers the fifth night free on award stays for anyone with Silver status and above, but I didn’t have enough Hilton points for a long stay in London. If you have the IHG Premier credit card, you get the fourth night free on award stays but we still have the older Select version of the IHG card so that wasn’t an option either.
The other program that offers a fifth night free on award stays is Marriott Bonvoy. We had plenty of Marriott points and I’m trying to burn them in a smart way before the first points devaluation (already past) and the future implementation of Off Peak and Peak pricing.
Once I narrowed my focus to Marriott, there was one hotel on our list of places we really wanted to stay.
I’ve taken countless pictures of St. Pancras Station due to the connection to the Harry Potter movie franchise and we’ve even taken the Eurostar train from there to Paris, twice. However, it wasn’t until our last trip to London, when we stayed directly across the street at the Great Northern Hotel (another Marriott property), that I even realized there was a hotel inside the station.
This was the view of the station from our hotel across the street.
Once I knew I’d be able to book it using my SPG points, which were soon to become Marriott points, there’s been an understanding between Sharon and I that we’d be staying there as soon as we had the chance. And now we had the chance.
Booking the Room
The St. Pancras Renaissance is a Marriott Bonvoy category 6 hotel. Standard rooms cost 50,000 points a night. When introduced, Off Peak nights will be 40,000 points and Peak nights will cost 60,000 points.
The base room for award stays is a Deluxe Bedroom with 1 queen or two twin beds in the Barlow Wing.
The Barlow wing is the new section of the hotel. To get to these rooms, you need to walk through the lobby and enter a hallway connected to the back of the Booking Office Restaurant.
I walked back to check out the hallways of the Barlow wing. While they were nice, it just seemed to be the same as you’d find at any hotel. Nothing to match the styling of the rest of the building.
While this was the room I originally booked, it wasn’t where we stayed. Before our stay, I requested to apply our five suite night upgrade awards to this stay. We received these as a perk when I succeeded with my plan to get Marriott Platinum status for this year through a combination of credit card award nights and actual stays. The bummer about these certificates is that while you can apply them immediately after booking a room, they will only clear a few days before your stay if space is available.
I had all year to use them but I figured this was as good of a place as any to give it a shot. Since you need to have enough upgrade nights for your entire stay, it was perfect because this was a five-night stay. If approved, we’d use them all up in one try.
Three days before the trip, we received the email from Marriott.
We were now going to be staying in a Junior Suite in the Chambers Wing. This is the original hotel area, built back in 1872. The hotel reopened after a massive renovation in 2011 and it is amazing to behold.
The lobby of the hotel is located in the original horse carriage driveway for the hotel.
The front desk agents are located off to the right behind several desk stands. The back desk is for the hotel concierge. We showed up around noon, quite a bit before the normal check in time for the hotel. The front desk agent described our room to us, maybe overselling it a bit, which we figured out later.
We were just looking for a place to sit, rest and possibly get some work done. He said we could go to the Chambers Club, which is one of the perks of having a suite in the Chambers Wing. We were given access keys and were escorted to the club.
I’ll describe the club in its own post but the staff was very attentive and proactive. When they saw Sharon starting to curl up in her chair to take a nap, they said that sleeping in a chair was just unacceptable.
Instead, they suggested a comfortable, oversized couch tucked in a quiet corner under the stairs which is much better suited for napping. If Sharon needed any additional pillows, they would be glad to provide them.
After several hours, we were met in the lounge and told our suite was ready.
Chambers Wing Junior Suite
You can reach the Chambers Wing by either the staircase from the club, a bank of elevators just off the lobby or the grand staircase. Since we had some luggage, we took the elevator.
To get a sense of where the rooms are in the hotel, the Chambers Wing is the entire front facade and the rooms to the front, left corner. The long building towards the back left is the Barlow Wing. While the hotel entrance and lobby is now by the driveway, the former entrance is at the front left corner of the building, now home to the Gilbert Scott Restaurant.
Our suite was on the left of the hotel, facing the British Library. We were told this room has huge windows that let in a large amount of natural light. For us, we were more impressed that when we left the elevators, we had to walk past the grand staircase to get to our room. Quite a different feel from the Barlow Wing.
We were assigned suite 255, located on the right towards the end of the hallway.
Upon entering the room, there was a large cabinet on the right and the entrance to the bathroom on the left. And yes, the ceilings are that high, with windows reaching almost the entire height of the room.
The room was quite large with plenty of space to get comfortable. There was a king size bed with nightstands on both sides. A large desk with room for two people to work (we had the hotel bring a second chair to the room). There was also a large flat screen TV which, most importantly, showed a program about the renovation of the hotel. It’s one of the few times we even bother watching TV when on vacation.
My one complaint was a lack of plugs to charge electronics near the bed. One side of the bed had a plug several feet away, which is why we bring a 6ft Lightning cable with us. The other side of the bed had no plugs but after some investigating, we found a USB plug on the back of the clock. Really, who would think to look there?
The bathroom was beautiful with marble everywhere, including the shower and around the bathtub.
If you wanted to take a bath, they also provided a rubber duck (which may have accidentally ended up in my suitcase).
My only complaint about the room was the shower controls. Originally I thought there was no way to know what each dial was for.
As it turned out, there are indicators on each dial. Do you see them? No? Maybe it’s because they are written in grey on a chrome background contained in a white marble shower.
What can I say, it was a great room. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay. Well, except for the one night when they were doing road construction and we heard the beep beep beep and smelt hot tar until finally going to sleep.
While the room was great, that’s not what we’re going to remember the most. It’s the walk down the stairs from our room to the lobby. For one time, we chose to take the stairs almost every morning.
The hotel spa, gym and pool are reached by taking the Chambers Wing elevators down one floor from the lobby.
I did go to check out the pool and gym but the pool was closed for renovations during our stay. The gym, while not large, had a good variety of equipment.
It’s rare that I’m even more impressed with a hotel than I was expecting. I knew the St. Pancras Rennasiance was a nice hotel but the sense of place you have when staying here is undeniable. I’m sure that our stay was made even better by the upgrade to staying in a Chambers Suite. If we were staying in the Barlow wing, we still would have appreciated the hotel’s public areas but it wouldn’t compare to walking out of your room in the morning and down a gothic themed staircase.
I’m torn now that we’ve stayed in the Chambers Wing. If I was just staying for a night or two, I might splurge and see about paying for an upgrade. If I only wanted to pay with points, I’d strongly consider staying across the street at the Great Northern Hotel. While the rooms there are smaller, the hotel makes up for it with tons of character in every room (and a pantry with round the clock snacks at the end of every floor) in addition to having some fantastic views of St. Pancras Station just across the street. 🙂
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary