King's Cross Station, London: The Complete Guide

Kings Cross Train Station modern interior

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As one of the busiest railway stations in the UK, King’s Cross is equally famous for its intertwining transport lines as it is for its surrounding cultural institutions, shopping destinations and lively restaurant scene. Once a seedy red light district with quite a colorful history — it’s said Queen Boudicca is buried under Platform 8! — King’s Cross has undergone a significant transformation in recent times, making the station itself an absolute must-see for anyone visiting London. Check out our guide to getting your head around this hectic and iconic railway station.

History

Named after a now-demolished statue of King George IV, King’s Cross station was constructed on top of a children’s smallpox and fever hospital, the area serving as inspiration for Charles Dickens’ classic tale ‘Oliver Twist’. First opened to passengers in 1852, it was designed as a simple and functional transport service but quickly began to decline from increasing rail traffic in the 19th century. Despite being England’s largest station, overcrowding led to the opening of all eight of its platforms, including three brand new ones, which actually didn’t help much as demand continued to increase.

In 2002, a £2.5 billion redevelopment saw its complete restoration, including the addition of new platform ‘0’ to meet the station’s continuing growth. 

Kings Cross arrival/departure hall for trains
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Rail Services at King's Cross

Today King’s Cross has expanded to include St. Pancras International and King’s Cross St. Pancras tube stations. In addition to the original Great Northern, it now operates several more train services including Grand Central, Hull, and London North Eastern railways. Intercity services terminate at platforms 1-8, suburban and regional services at platforms 9, 10 and 11, and St. Pancras International’s high-speed train Eurostar goes directly into Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam. Meanwhile, King’s Cross tube station links to six other lines including Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria lines.

Location & How to Get There

Because King’s Cross is the best-connected transport hub in the country, it’s super simple to get to and from the station. Located in Central London on Euston Road (Zone1), it has direct tube links to five international airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton which are all within the hour. It’s also served by 14 bus routes located in front of the station on Euston Road, or you can catch a taxi from the cab rank on St. Pancras Road. There are loads of Customer Help Points throughout the station too, in case you need assistance with finding ATMs, ticket machines or even toilets, showers and luggage lockers.

 

Restaurants & Bars Near King's Cross

Pretty much anything you fancy — from fine dining to quirky eateries — is available in the vicinity, depending on how much time you’ve got. If you’re only after a quick bite, you can grab a hot toastie or sandwich from Cafe Nero, Pret A Manger or Costa, or if you want a substantial meal, order the spicy Mexican chicken at Benito’s Hat or try the modern British menu from Plum+Spilt Milk. To ‘wet your whistle’, have a glass of bubbly at Searcy’s Champagne Bar on the upper floor of St. Pancras Station, or if you’d rather venture outside, head to Granary Square for vegan, vegetarian and world cuisines from Itadaki Zen, Foodilic and The Greek Larder.

  

Platform Nine and Three Quarters at King's Cross Station
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Harry Potter at King's Cross

Did we mention there’s a Harry Potter Shop? Not only does King’s Cross station have an entire store dedicated to the coolest boy wizard, it’s actually home to Platform 9 ¾ itself, attracting hoards of kids and adults on a daily basis. Located just outside the shop, you’ll know it by the luggage trolley embedded into a brick wall, so don’t miss a golden photo opportunity before you wave goodbye to King’s Cross station! 

Shopping at King's Cross

Whether it’s last minute gifts or proper retail therapy, King’s Cross station is home to shops like Accessorize, Paperchase, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer, as well as Oliver Bonas, John Lewis, Whistles and, of course, the Harry Potter Shop. Make sure you visit the quirky Chalton Street Market across the road if you’re after funky clothes, fabric and fresh fruit and veg, or you can pop over to King’s Boulevard to shop designer brands like Jigsaw, Sweaty Betty and Nike Central.

Hotels Near King's Cross

There is plenty of affordable and high-end accommodation in the area, with prices averaging from £40-£70 for Victorian-style Bed & Breakfasts and £100-£200 for more stylish rooms and apartments. If you don’t mind sharing space, you can find a hostel for just £12 per night, otherwise, you’ll find streets of countless B&Bs around Argyle Gardens and more upmarket accommodation closer to Euston.

Regents Canal and Granary square
London's Granary Square. stockinasia/Getty Images

Things to Do Nearby

Have time to kill in the area? King's Cross and the surrounding streets are full of things to do. Stop by the British Library on Euston Road to view the Magna Carta, Jane Austin’s notebook and original lyrics from The Beatles, then head over to the British Museum to see the Rosetta Stone and over seven million other ancient objects from around the world. Dickens fans can see the author’s restored Victorian home on Doughty Street where classics like ‘Oliver Twist’ came to life, while other attractions include the Foundling Museum, Regent’s Canal and the lush Grade II listed gardens in Russell Square.