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The best things to do in King’s Cross

Discover all the best things to do in and around King’s Cross and St Pancras, plus the best restaurants, pubs, bars and hotels in the area

Granary Square
Granary Square

King’s Cross might be best known for its bustling train stations linking London to other parts of the country, as well as the continent, but a recent host of developments have regenerated the area, with new restaurants, bars and pubs popping up (check out just how much of a transformation King’s Cross has been through here).

There are plenty of other things to do as well, with outstanding clubs, music venues and museums nearby, much-loved green spaces and a pretty stretch of Regent’s Canal, all of which makes King’s Cross an ace destination in its own right. If you’re feeling cultured, pop to the famous British Library which boasts an impressive events calendar packed with exhibitions and talks all year long. Shop at the brand new Coal Drops Yard and, if you end up feeling peckish, wander over to Kerb food market or the restaurants that line Granary Square. We absolutely understand if you need to make a detour to King’s Cross station for your snap at Harry Potter’s Platform 9¾, too. Here’s all the best things to do in King’s Cross. 

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We asked Time Out Tastemakers for their local tips

Things to do in King’s Cross

Coal Drops Yard
Shopping

Coal Drops Yard

A brand new shopping area born out of what was once a Victorian coal depot

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
British Library
Attractions Buy tickets

British Library

Home to some of the most famous written items in the world

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Buy
Kerb
Restaurants

Kerb

Sensational street-food vendors pitched at Granary Square

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Camley Street Natural Park
Attractions

Camley Street Natural Park

A small but thriving green space

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Bars in King’s Cross

Supermax
Bars and pubs

Supermax

I almost stayed until closing time at Supermax, fuelling up on happy hour aperitivi before chair-grooving to similarly Italian-influenced disco (okay, after a few of the bar’s stronger cocktails, too). The King’s Cross spot comes from the team behind Spiritland, a nearby all-day ‘listening bar’ with a super-powered sound system and an audiophile following that’s totally justified. Though the two places share a musical ethos, Supermax isn’t as nerdy. It’s more about the fun, from upbeat tunes in the loo (on a separate, funkier loop to what was playing in the bar) to a mechanical mirror ball that starts swirling on a Friday pretty soon after that aforementioned happy hour ends. It’s a secluded setting, in the basement of pizza restaurant Happy Face, just beyond the area that was once Bagley’s nightclub. That’s why the dripping-in-disco look is such a pleasant surprise. There’s an opulent yet semi-seedy tone: walls covered in mauve-coloured velvet drapes, golden, orb-shaped lights on the tables and leather seating in a wiggly track around the room that faces the action. Yet it doesn’t come across as kitsch. And the approach to drink – like the approach to music – is all about quality. All of the cocktails contain vermouth or a fortified wine of some description and span the eras – the menu is like a DJ set, ringing with truly retro and forgotten drinks as well as the classics. However, even a 50/50 martini had a modern edge, served in a tumbler over a large cube of ice. The ve

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Booking Office
Bars and pubs Buy tickets

Booking Office

Venue says: “Established British Dining! Try our brand new menu now! Offering Meats, Grills, Seafood & More!”

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Buy
The Racketeer
Bars and pubs Book online

The Racketeer

The King’s Cross clean-up is hard to ignore, with Granary Square at its beating heart. But new life is spreading down the area’s arteries. Take The Racketeer, a cocktail bar on King’s Cross Road named after Clerkenwell’s mobster days and taking over The Carpenter’s Arms, a faded watering hole. Its fruit machines and patterned carpets have been replaced by wooden flooring, royal blue walls and feature tiles. And all-day drinkers have made way for wheelie-suitcase-wielding travellers – I spotted a group of footie lads stopping in to use the facilities who were taken aback by the Victoriana. Instead of fleeting pre-train pints, The Racketeer deserves enduring sessions. A log burner and tall-backed armchairs give a rear room serious cosy clout. Beyond is a neat, walled garden and downstairs looks like it’s shaping up nicely for events, all bare bricks and soft candlelight. Wine seemed to be most popular, with bottles from small, Old World producers available to take home too. House cocktails are classics, some with a gentle twist but most faithful to formulas, including a silky-smooth boulevardier that suited the romantic setting. A cheeseboard put together by specialists Androuet came with generous chunks of bread and a homemade chilli jam (which sadly didn’t deliver on its threat of fiery heat). Rounding off the line-up are a handful of beers on tap including an IPA from Walthamstow’s lesser-known Neckstamper. Don’t let the bar’s name fool you – these quality pints stay fait

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Book online
Double Standard
Bars and pubs

Double Standard

No, you haven’t stepped into the Transport Museum. This bar with its ‘TfL-inspired’ interior is at London’s Standard Hotel and it’s one of London’s coolest new hangouts. Maybe it’s because the hotel group carries its hip credentials with it from across the Pond (with outposts in New York, LA and Miami). There’s also music, talks and broadcasts reeling in a young crowd to its Austin Powers-esque lobby, and Double Standard is doing well out of it. But it makes its own atmosphere, with a soundtrack that flits between The Cure and current smashes from the likes of Normani. Plus, staff dressed in an Ivy Park-style uniform worked the room like they were just hanging out. There weren’t enough of them, though – sitting at the bar looked best for American-style service direct from bartenders. Americanisms continued on the menu, from spot-on, mustard-smothered mini hot dogs to big, greasy pretzels. Whitebait was more London, a great sharing option. Meanwhile, Brooklyn lager adorned the taps and cocktails came across seriously NYC – especially a very effective Pickle Martini. Other flavours were on the sweet side, from a prosecco-filled Pick & Fizz, saccharine with strawberry, to a Chocolate Stout Martini. Made from orange liqueur, stout and coffee, it was Terry’s Chocolate Orange meets Espresso Martini – and bound to be as big a hit as the bar’s pitchers of Aperol Spritz. Prices were fair for the hotel world, cocktails ranging from £8 to £12. And as for that TfL look – well, it’s ac

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
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Restaurants in King’s Cross

Hicce
Restaurants Buy tickets

Hicce

A buzzy, good-time place above fashionable Wolf & Badger

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Buy
Dishoom
Restaurants

Dishoom

A three-storey Victorian warehouse channelling the elegant feel of 1930s Bombay

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Coal Office
Restaurants

Coal Office

Can’t choose between The Palomar and The Barbary? Now you don’t have to. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Barrafina King’s Cross
Restaurants

Barrafina King’s Cross

The original high-quality tapas joint, now in King’s Cross

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
See the best restaurants in King’s Cross

Pubs in King’s Cross

Queen’s Head
Bars and pubs

Queen’s Head

A couple of hundred yards from the heart of King’s Cross rejuvenation is this on-trend but individualistic oasis. It’s a compact Victorian hole-in-the-wall pub with three real-ale pumps and an astutely chosen handful of craft beers on draught - and that’s all before you pick up the clipboard list of twenty-plus bottled beers from around the UK, Belgium and the US. Although sometimes invaded by hollering students, it's usually cosy and blissfully music-free, apart from the odd hipster-trad jazz session around the old walnut upright piano. It’s a brewpub too - the own-made QHB beers are only occasionally available, but definitely worth trying when they're on, alongside brews from the likes of Kernel, Summit, Redemption and Windsor & Eton and an artisanal cider or two.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
The Scottish Stores
Bars and pubs

The Scottish Stores

I never went to The Scottish Stores in its previous incarnation. Because until late last year the building housed The Flying Scotsman, a strip club where (I’m told) the ladies would reveal themselves in return for ‘50p in the pot’. Fortunately, King’s Cross has gone from grotty to gleaming in the last decade or so, so instead of a titty bar named after a train we’ve got a small but handsome wood-panelled pub specialising in interesting beers that’s run by a good old-fashioned gentleman. The beer options are not your usual suspects; on my second visit I tried a Basqueland Brewing Project IPA (brewed by an American who’s set up in Spain), which apparently went down a storm at a recent tap takeover. But even if you prefer a pint of the familiar you’ll find something to quench your thirst – there are around ten draught options and a good few more in the fridge. Beyond some posh-looking bags of pork scratchings there’s no food on offer, but considering its size, you probably wouldn’t settle in for a meal. Unless, that is, you claim a table on their newly opened roof terrace, which, though spartan, is quite a find in this area. My only complaint is that the prices are a bit high, but this is the sort of pub that fits in so well, you wonder how it hasn’t been around longer. And as for its insalubrious past, I’m sorry I brought it up.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
The Lighterman
Bars and pubs

The Lighterman

Situated in a brand-new three-floor building in the redeveloped plaza behind King’s Cross station, The Lighterman has that feeling of being fresh out of the box. It’s doing the gastropub thing to a fault: chips come in tiny metal buckets; plates are never used where a chopping board will do. Everything you see on the menu, you’ve seen before. Of course, if the food’s good, that needn’t be a problem. Cured trout came with a fiery mayonnaise; mushroom on brioche was silky and topped with a runny-yolked egg. Mains were a bit more shaky: the ribeye steak was generous and tender, but the lamb chop was too charred around the edges. Also, the béarnaise sauce I ordered alongside it was impossible to extricate from its tiny jug. (Still, I imagine the sight of me frantically shaking it over my plate provided entertainment for those sat nearby.) Desserts ended the meal on a high: moist, sumptuous sticky toffee pudding and a hit of sweetness and salt in the form of a peanut butter parfait. Don’t go to The Lighterman for surprises. Do go for swish surroundings and attentive staff – they were only too happy to re-seat us out in the sunshine on the terrace, overlooking the fountains of Granary Square. In an area that’s seen quite a facelift, this could easily become one of its top spots. 

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
King Charles I
Bars and pubs

King Charles I

Hidden from the outside world, this homely pub provides rare ales, many whiskies, a roaring fire and the day’s papers to the surprisingly few regulars who frequent it. In fact, if you had to describe what a pub was to someone from Pluto, this would do the job. There’s even a bar billiards tables with a set of rules, just to make it easier for them. Beer-wise, you’ll find sought-after Italian Moretti on draught, Theakston Paradise Ale, Caledonian Flying Dutchman and Deuchars IPA, potentially chased with Maker’s Mark, Highland Park or Glenlivet. There are Brodie’s sherries, too, and bog-standard wines you needn’t bother with. Various branches of the deer family make a decorative appearance, as do unusual tribal masks.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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Hotels in King’s Cross

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London

A monument to epic Victorian confidence and wild decorative detail.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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Megaro Hotel

Megaro Hotel

Easily spotted, thanks to its colourful geometric mural.

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See the best hotels in King’s Cross

The perfect weekend in King’s Cross

Dance: Scala
Music

Dance: Scala

One of London's best-loved gig venues

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Shop: Word on the Water
Shopping

Shop: Word on the Water

A floating bookshop by Granary Square

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
See: Wellcome Collection
Museums

See: Wellcome Collection

Often grisly, always fascinating

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Eat: Dishoom
Restaurants

Eat: Dishoom

1930s Bombay in a Victorian warehouse

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars