The story of the building began in 1865 when Midland Railway held a competition for the design of a 150-bed hotel with the brief that is needed to 'add lustre' to its soon to be completed St Pancras station. A number of architects submitted their schemes in the requisite timeframe however the competition was extended by one of the directors of the Midland Railway to allow George Gilbert Scott to submit an entry.
Much to the dismay of the punctual applicants, Scott's wondrous design was declared the winner and he was awarded the contract in 1866. Construction of the Midland Grand Hotel began in 1868 and the Hotel opened officially on the 5th of May 1873.
The hotel oozed extravagance; the Victorian decor was luxurious and lavish with extensive decoration in gold leaf and open fires in every room. Ornate stenciling and flamboyant wallpapers governed every inch of the hotel.
In the 'Coffee Room' (now The Gilbert Scott restaurant) pillars of polished limestone lined the walls with their gilded capitals carved with conkers, pea pods and bursting pomegranates. The Midland Grand's reputation was quickly cemented and it was widely recognized as one of London's leading hotels.
After a wondrous 62 years of trading, the hotel had become too expensive to maintain and heat, it also did not have the modern concept of ensuite bathrooms (the solid foundations of the building made new plumbing routes impossible in those times) thus it closed its doors in 1935. It then came to accommodate British Rail staff.
During WWII it was bombed three times in one month but as credit to the strength of its construction fortunately it emerged almost completely unscathed. In 1948 it became the headquarters for British Transport Hotels and remained so until a failed fire certificate forced them out in 1985.