Part of our Best Pubs in London microsite. See if we've included your local.
Station pubs have the reputation for being fairly dull, transitory places whose sole purpose is to kill time waiting for a train. Step forward the Betjeman Arms in St Pancras International station, a tasteful, pleasant pub you're just as likely to visit intentionally as to wait for a Eurostar.
Now under the ownership of Young's, the Betjeman is of course named for the late Poet Laureate who helped save St Pancras station from demolition in the 1960s. Looking from the pub over the remarkable Eurostar terminus, it's incredible to think how close this glorious building came to being flattened. The least Sir John should expect is a pub in his honour. Now he's got one, as well as a much-loved statue out on the concourse.
The interior of the pub is a brightly lit warren of small areas separated by paneling, with decorations include toy trains — too high up to have a cheeky play with, unfortunately — and French-themed art.
There's a reasonable selection of beers and ciders on tap, and a healthy wine list. This is as it should be. St Pancras station was built in the first place to ease the transport of ale from Burton to London — so the place deserves a well-stocked pub. Food is of a high standard, too.
The terrace area overlooking the platforms is heated and has its own bar, though it's not always staffed. There's also a front terrace, spilling onto the forecourt, meaning the pub's capacity is much bigger than it would seem when sitting in one of the enclosed areas inside.
We recall with fondness the time we were sat in the back room, chatting away with some scientists over in London for a conference, when two loud-mouthed Chelsea fans walked, in full colours and full of chanting. One of them then sat down at the piano and offered up a note-perfect Chopin recital. Betjeman would have loved the poetry of it all.
Be careful in here — it's very easy to get lost in your surroundings and forget you're actually waiting for a train under the Channel.