Whenever I travel by Eurostar, I marvel at the shopping options at St Pancras International but until recently, I had no idea just how amazing it would be for a last minute Christmas shopping experience with the ‘Wow factor.’
For the past few years, I have done pretty much all my Christmas shopping online. It is convenient, I can compare prices and I generally do it over a few months to spread out the costs. I recently started going to shops again for birthday presents, special occasions and you know what? I realised I had not always been getting the best deal by shopping online. I have slowly but surely been falling in love with ‘real’ shopping again!
These days, shops have become pretty good at matching promotions and giving their customers the best deal. I also find that online shopping can be a tad soulless despite being practical (if that makes sense).
This year, I decided to get the special people in my life something different, less on trend and more thoughtful, something they will treasure for a long time rather than junk that would start gathering dust the day after Christmas. I mostly went for small UK businesses and personalised presents for Christmas this year.
If I asked you what place you would recommend for a spot of last minute Christmas shopping with a difference, what would you say? You would probably suggest places like Westfields, Brent Cross shopping centre, Selfridges, John Lewis or Harrods. Would St Pancras International have come to mind? I have to admit I probably would not have thought of it had I not been shown everything they had to offer.
In the summer, my friend Anna and I were invited to the grand Queen suite at the Renaissance Hotel to see and taste what St Pancras International would offer this Christmas, and believe me, they have gone to great lengths to create a premium shopping experience for commuters who would rather shop in a quieter environment, avoiding the queues and the crowds of the Christmas rush.
I had a bit of a browse at the end of November when my friend Cé and I had a makeup class at MAC. The gallery was full of festive magic, quieter than the high street and the choice was impressive with its fantastic collection of high street and independent retailers.
Here are the highlights of what you can find there:
SEARCYS ST PANCRAS GRAND & CHAMPAGNE BAR – A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE…
Searcys, the longest champagne bar in Europe, came up with a creative Christmas cocktail. I am a Champagne girl (literally – I was born in the heart of the Champagne region) and I generally loathe champagne cocktails as they are way too sweet and tend to completely hide the refined taste of the champagne. I was pleasantly surprised by Searcy’s creation for this year, ‘A Partridge in a Pear Tree.’ The cocktail, with Whiskey, spiced Christmas Syrup, a touch of Orange Bitters and Searcys’ own Special Cuvée Champagne is really worth a try!
Alongside each cocktail, guests are served a complimentary Christmas biscuit, freshly made each day throughout December (win, win!).
PRIME BURGER – CHAMPAGNE CHEESE BURGER
The gourmet burger outlet created a ‘Champagne burger’ for visitors seeking an indulgent pit stop throughout December. In my humble opinion, this incredibly moreish burger should be available all-year-round, with its buttery cheese infused with Champagne. It is just right!
THE BETJEMAN ARMS – MERINGUE-TOPPED MINCE PIES
Now these elegant and light meringue-topped mince pies were a revelation! I am not a fan of mince pies, unless I make them myself with cranberry-studded mincemeat rather than a ton of raisins, but these mince pies were gorgeous. I ate two!
GODIVA – LIBERTY CHOCOLATE PRALINE
Belgian Chocolatier Godiva created a chocolate praline filled with coffee cream this year (yum!). ‘Liberty’ is sold exclusively in their St. Pancras International store and it is delicious.
ASPINAL OF LONDON – EXCLUSIVE CHRISTMAS ST. PANCRAS PERSONALISATION
This one is a bit of a special one. Aspinal of London give you a chance to have luxury leather goods monogrammed in front of you with a unique colour foil only available at the station, adding the perfect personal touch to any Christmas gift.
HATCHARDS – THE RE-ISSUE OF THE CHILDHOOD CLASSIC, PETER RABBIT
Hatchards have launched a beautiful new edition of Beatrix Potter’s classic children’s story, Peter Rabbit. All books sold at Hatchards’ are beautiful and pre-wrapped, ready to be put straight into stockings.
THE PEN SHOP
I was impressed by the craftsmanship that went into the unique designs developed at the Pen Shop. There, you will find a wide range of the highest quality, hand-crafted pens supplied by luxury brands including Mont Blanc, Graf von Faber-Castell, Caran d’Ache, Yard O Led, ST Dupont. Premium brands available include Parker, Waterman, Cross, Sheaffer, Hugo Boss as well as popular Lamy and Kingsley pens.
RITUALS – BESPOKE GIFTING
I fell in love with the unique perfume collection by Rituals. They also developed a range of seasonal gift boxes to create your own bespoke gifts.
L’OCCITANE – HAND AND ARM MASSAGES
L’Occitane, with its luxury skincare and delightful fragrances, has been one of my favourite stops for presents for over 15 years. Why not get a relaxing hand and arm massage from one of the L’Occitane trained beauty experts whilst you are there?
ST PANCRAS RENAISSANCE HOTEL
St Pancras Renaissance Hotel would be a magical place to spend the festive season! The 245 room hotel incorporates 38 historical Chambers suites, exclusive Chambers Club, restaurants and a spa.With its stunning architecture and an exceptional level of service, the hotel offers an experience like no other.
Here is the full list of retailers at St Pancras International:
• Accessorize • Aspinal of London • Avis • Benugo • Barzetti Italian Kitchen • Boots • Caffè Nero • Caffe Fratelli • Cath Kidston • Chop’d • Costa Pronto • DesVins Café & Wine Bar • Dune • Fat Face • Fortnum & Mason • GANT • Godiva • Hamleys • Hatchards • Isle of Flowers • John Lewis • Jo Malone • Joules • Le Pain Quotidien • L’Occitane • LK Bennett • M-A-C • M&S • Monsoon • Oliver Bonas • Paperchase • Patisserie Valerie • Pret a Manger • Rituals • Prime Burger • Rolling Luggage • Sourced Market • Thomas Pink • Starbucks • The Curious Pig • The Pen Shop • The White Company • Whistles • WHSmith • YO! Sushi
Disclosure: My friend Anna and I were invited to sample what St Pancras International had to offer over the festive season and we were pretty impressed. All opinions and photos are my own.