King’s Cross area guide

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 King’s Cross and St Pancras stations (plus Harry Potter’s Platform 9¾), but there is much more to the area than travel and train timetables. Recent regeneration has made the area flourish (check out just how much of a transformation King’s Cross has been through here). Bars and pubs in and around King’s Cross range from traditional to achingly hip, and the restaurants feature everything from British to Ethiopian cuisine.

There are a host of other things to do as well, with outstanding clubs, music venues and museums nearby, much-loved green spaces, popular Granary Square and a pretty stretch of Regent’s Canal, all of which makes King’s Cross an ace destination in its own right. 

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Things to do

13 secret spots to explore in King’s Cross

From awesome food spots to lovely parks, there are loads of great places worth visiting

19 sensational places in King’s Cross
Things to do

19 sensational places in King’s Cross

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

British Library
Attractions

British Library

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

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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

Booking Office
Bars and pubs Book online

Booking Office

Venue says: “Enjoy an unforgettable celebration with St Pancras Renaissance. Step inside our magnificent hotel and experience the festive season in style”

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Book online
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
Permit Room
Bars and pubs

Permit Room

Bored of arbitrarily themed Prohibition bars? Well, the King’s Cross branch of Dishoom’s Permit Room (the second of its kind) has its own thing going on, taking inspiration from Bombay’s own Prohibition era when the public needed a licence to drink alcohol based on ‘medical’ grounds. It suits us ‘what’s your excuse?’ Londoners to a tee. The room is moodily lit but never flirts with speakeasy clichés. It’s a big basement filled with chatter, a waft of incense and the comings and goings of chipper bar staff with trays held high. You’ll have to queue at the door at peak times, just like punters do for a curry in the restaurant. But once you’re in, browse a list of juleps in traditional copper cups, martinis twisted with Indian aromatics, and shaken sours with more than a whiff of the East. Gin is the maharaja on the menu, in a proper nod to colonial times. Permission to come again, please?

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Spiritland
Clubs

Spiritland

A truly rewarding destination for music lovers

More bars in King’s Cross

Restaurants in King’s Cross

Caravan King’s Cross
Restaurants Book online

Caravan King’s Cross

Head here for laid-back buzz and great people-watching opportunities

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
3 out of 5 stars
Book online
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
Granger & Co
Restaurants

Granger & Co

Grab a table outside at this sunny all-day eatery

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

Vinoteca

The fifth (and largest) branch of this successful wine-bar group

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
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
More pubs in King’s Cross

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