Are you ready to feel stylish in grimy King's Cross?
Looking to do some partying in King's Cross? That's right, I know you are. Read on. The area, once famous for its low-rent sleaze and urban wasteland around the station, much of which was filled by pill-popping ravers having it large in open-air all-nighters, has – like much of inner London – become gentrified, though it still retains a tatty feel.
Those live music mainstays, the Scala and the Monto Water Rats, are still going strong, with the former also a clubbing institution till late; next door's The Big Chill bar can also get busy. Yet apart from a handful of pubs, bars, and sociable restaurants, there's not a huge amount else of note, a situation exacerbated by the closure of much of the clubland behind the station to make way for the Eurostar link and the revamped St Pancras terminal.
Yet there is one cool hangout that's spouted up recently. Located right next to Housmans – the longest running anarchist/radical bookshop in London – on Caledonian Road, Drink Shop & Do is a self-styled "design shop and café bar" located in a converted old Victorian bathhouse.
The street-level shop sells all kinds of odd home wares and designer crafts, with all kinds of locally-made goodies, vintage tea sets and other products for your delectation.
Walk up the stairs, meanwhile, and you will find yourself in a large room with a plush-looking cocktail bar and retro furniture that, with its white walls, is bizarrely reminiscent of the one in A Clockwork Orange (minus the violence, of course). The service is top notch, though, and the various coffee and cakes feel almost like a diversion from the whole experience, which whisks you back to a 50's-style lounge bar.
View of DS&D bar (image courtesy of Drink Shop & Do's website)
There's the obligatory accoutrements, such as a jukebox from that era (whether it works is another matter), as well as a mysterious small alcove of a room containing an ancient shop counter till (pictured below).
they serve a comprehensive selection of soups, sandwiches, salads and a full afternoon English tea selection (which admittedly isn't cheap), along with bar snacks and some nice breakfast scones. If that's not enough, there's a selection of tasty milkshakes and banana splits, along with other sundaes.
View of DS&D bar counter - and another paper spider
However, Drink, Shop & Do is more than just a place to hang out in the daytime and have coffee. Unlike many other cafes, it opens all the way till midnight on Thursdays and 2am on Friday's and Saturday's (free before 11pm, £3 after), and hosts all kinds of weird and wonderful happenings with accompanying DJs. At the time of writing, the bar is hosting everything from a 'Lego Robots' night, in which teams can build – yes, you guessed it – Lego robots while drinking cocktails, to an all-ladies Book Club, to knitting evenings, ukulele lessons, and even Vintage Hair & Make-Up nights. There's also a forthcoming evening devoted to 'Straight Outta Compton Gangsta Rap Colour In' which is probably best left to the reader's imagination. It apparently involves crayons.
There's also a somewhat pervy side to DS&D, as expressed in its sister club space Drink, Shop & Dance, located in a sleazy former sex shop in the basement.
To get there requires walking down a flight of stairs bathed in a very intense red (pictured above) just to add to the ambience. Once inside, the austere-looking venue, characterised my monochrome black-and-white shaped furniture, is filled not only with big disco balls and a bar serving intense speciality cocktails, but also features, ahem, peep holes. According to the website, it's "not for the faint hearted".