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This Gothic red brick palace, built in the 1870s as a lavish terminal hotel for a railway line, is one of London’s most distinctive buildings, and its 2011 restoration, overseen with exactitude by English Heritage, not only rescued a Victorian icon from neglect but also created one of the city’s most distinctive properties. Premium rooms have an unforgettable view down the ribbed, cast-iron cavern of the train shed, where Eurostar arrives and departs for Paris. The most expensive Chambers rooms have 5.5m (18-ft.) ceilings and details such as (now-decorative) fireplaces, arched windows, and substantial wooden doors, but rooms in the newly built Barlow wing are spacious, modern, and suit those with corporate hotel tastes. The public spaces are a gilt-and-tile parade of self-important Victorian excess, from the winged Grand Staircase to the lushly carved The Gilbert Scott brasserie (named for the architect; local star Marcus Wareing oversees it) and the old wooden Booking Hall, now a bistro where old English punch cocktails are revived. The building, looking more like a castle than a hotel, was “too good for its purpose,” lamented Scott, whose own son went mad and died in one of the rooms. The hotel is worth a wander even if you’re not staying here—management knows it’s a jewel, and it welcomes visitors.