Historically, King’s Cross has been overlooked as a tourist destination in London – it served predominantly as an international train destination, or a crossing point, rather than ever being appreciated in its own right. Well, though there may have been reasoning behind this in the past, there is no longer any reason not to visit the King’s Cross area, as it is absolutely teeming with things to do, places to eat and shops to browse. If you are staying in Hotels in Paddington, simply jump on either the Hammersmith and City Line or the Circle Line and you will find yourself there in a jiffy.
Did someone say “breakfast time”? Someone is always saying “breakfast time” in King’s Cross, because it is home to Caravan, an eclectic restaurant, bar and coffee roastery. It serves all nature of things and is open all day for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, take-out coffee, pizza and baked goodies – however, their breakfasts are particularly special and usually involve fresh flavours, fruit and superfoods to ensure you get the kind of energy you need for a day of exploration.
Address: 1 Granary Square, Kings Cross, London N1C 4AA
Spend your morning becoming one with your inner book-ish nerd in King’s Cross, exercising your brain and stimulating your creativity so that by lunch time, you are ready to eat again. Head to Platform 9 and ¾ inside King’s Cross Station and relive the wonderful Harry Potter back-to-school experience outside The Harry Potter Shop. Once you have purchased your house-scarf, get in line for a picture posing with the trolley which sits half-way between the wall and the magical world on the other side.
Address: Pancras Rd, Kings Cross, London N1 9AP
The book-related activities do not end here, though. Walk out the station and back towards Granary Square where you had breakfast and then walk down to Regent’s Towpath, which runs alongside the Regent’s Canal. Floating on the spot will be Word On The Water, a book barge selling a mixture of new releases, classics and secondhand books. Keep an eye on their Facebook page, as they regularly host jazz evenings on the barge which are always exceptionally well-received.
Address: Regent’s Canal Towpath, Kings Cross, London N1C 4BZ
You thought that was it now, right? Well, not quite. The last stop of the trifecta of book-y activities in King’s Cross is The House of Illustration, a museum celebrating the world of illustration. Though small, it packs a punch and has regularly changing exhibitions from both famous and up-and-coming artists, including the illustrator who is illustrator-in-residence at the time of your visit. The best bit about the museum is the Quenten Blake exhibition, which is the only permanent exhibition in the museum. It is a remarkable showcase of the work of one of Britain’s most famous illustrators, whose career spent illustrating Roald Dahl’s children’s books will go down in illustrating history.
Address: 2 Granary Square, Kings Cross, London N1C 4BH
Dishoom is a tricky restaurant the visit, because everything on the menu, from the brunch menu to the dinner menu, there is so much deliciousness that you want to eat three meals at once. Thankfully, it is such a fantastic lunch spot too that you won’t feel stressed for long – especially not once the selection of small plates you ordered along with a roomali roti. They don’t take bookings because they don’t need to – people line up all the way down the street to get a table.
Address: 5 Stable St, Kings Cross, London N1C 4AB
The Real Food Market is right outside the front of King’s Cross Station and is a fantastic option if you would rather have a lighter lunch and is there on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from noon to 7pm. From salmon and cream cheese bagels to the most delectable chocolate brownies you will find in the area, prepare to feel overwhelmed but thrilled by the variety.
Address: King’s Cross Square, Euston Road N1C 9AL
Spend the afternoon shopping in the Coal Drops Yard, which has only been open since 2018 and is therefore a prime example of how cool King’s Cross is getting increasingly. There is an eclectic selection of independent boutiques and stores built into an old industrial development – this is repurposing unused space at its finest and most creative. Even if you don’t buy anything, just wandering around is an experience in itself.
If you are looking for a top-quality, local-tasting meal, head across Granary Square towards the water to The Lighterman, a gastro-pub with a varied menu and a beautiful view of the canal. The menu is considered British/European and it is seasonal and sustainable, meaning the specials are ever-changing and often the best, freshest option for ordering. Their Sunday Roasts are their crowning glory, so if you are visiting on a Sunday this is a very solid option for your lunch.
Address: 3 Granary Square, Kings Cross, London N1C 4BH
If you wanted to keep it simple, go order a pizza at Happy Face Pizza – their service and quality is all described in its name. With the Aperol Spritz flowing and the cheese bubbling, you are going to have a hard time leaving this part-underground restaurant, situated across from the Everyman Theatre. Maybe book tickets to see a film, and then you will feel motivated to leave the comfort of the wood-fired smell and top-notch pizza. Alternatively, from Wednesday to Saturday, the downstairs speakeasy-style bar transforms into SUPERMAX, serving serving vermouth-led cocktails all night long.
Address: 14 Handyside St, Kings Cross, London N1C 4DN
There are certain parts of London which have been popular for ages – like having Afternoon Tea in London Paddington, or shopping in Knightsbridge’s Harrods. Even though King’s Cross is the new kid on the block, it is brimful of reasons to visit and has enough to keep you occupied for far longer than this 24 hour guide. After a day packed with all these wonderful options, you may need a foot massage in the spa in Paddington – thankfully this is both easily said and done, just chat to the concierge!