It’s not often that I find myself contemplating the heavens when passing through King’s Cross station, but rather rushing as quickly as possible to my destination. Recently, though, I found myself craning my neck heavenwards regarding the vast glassy canopy arching over the newly developed section in Kings Cross . Not only I, but several commuters could be seen gazing upwards at the newly designed station through which light filters in generous quantities throughout a previously rather dingy space; groggy commuters kept awake only by coffee were startled from half-slumber by the ambitious architecture. Indeed, the whole area is in a process of regeneration, and draws travellers far and wide to St Pancras station which is, of course, with the Eurostar, gateway to a multitude of cities and countries elsewhere.
On my final nights in London before my flight to Australia, I’m writer/blogger-in-residence at a new hotel, Tune Hotel, in the convenient location of Grays Inn Road. It’s nearby in a row of buildings in which the shiny new and the traditional Victorian are juxtaposed. The room is the most capacious I’ve stayed in so far during my stint as blogger-in-residence, with the slick and minimalist design typical of the hotel, colour-coded strikingly throughout in red, black, and white. Pictures on the lobby walls flag up this specific area of London, and the welcoming lobby is also replete with 24 hour coffee and snack bar for those times that night owls or early birds could do with a little refreshment. When I unexpectedly need another night in London before my flight to Australia, there are thankfully still rooms available, which is handy as rooms in central London are usually booked up well in advance. As I wait to be checked in I gain a snapshot of the kind of people staying here – from travellers, to business people, to one lady who arrives late in the evening and has accidentally locked herself out of her nearby flat. The hotel has also been an excellent location, explains the manager, from which to take the pulse of ‘London, 2012’ as it has seen the ebb and flow of the influx of visitors into the city during and after the Olympics, actually picking up business in the weeks following, when the ‘ghost town’ started to fill with the throb of life again.
There are plenty of places to visit in the area surrounding Tunes Hotel, Grays Inn Road, from cultural to gastronomic delights. Kings Place, nearby the canal, has an excellent year-round programme of music and spoken word events, and the canal-side bar/restaurant Rotunda offers seats which gaze out over the waterways. On my penultimate night in London I stay at Tunes Hotel, Grays Inn Road and it’s a pleasure to be able to walk a brisk ten minutes on a clear Autumn evening to visit Exmouth Market for a party at Moro restaurant – a delicious evening of Colombian food, juices and rum, and music from Colombian band La Papayera at the launch of Michael Jacob’s excellent new book “The Robber of Memories” (published by Granta this month), a journey through the rivers of Colombia which also weaves hauntingly through memories of the past.
It’s also only a short tube ride to Oxford Street and Regent Street, and I spend my final night doing last minute tasks in shops in which the staff are definitely already in the Christmas spirit, and along which Christmas lights are now strung, reindeers and angels sparkling against the black sky.
All in all, I’ve had an excellent stay as blogger-in-residence at Tune Hotel. The room has all the facilities you might need before preparing for a very long flight: power shower, bed comfy enough for a power nap, and enough plug sockets to power up for the next twenty-four hours flying between countries. The next morning, at the crack of dawn, I take the tube from Kings Cross station to Heathrow and board the plane, ready to fly from the Wintertime into Summertime on the other side of the world.