Walk and a Talk with…Gaston Bernard

This month we caught up with Gaston Bernard, the Marketing and Communications Manager at St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, who told us what it’s like to move to King’s Cross from Paris!

1.  When did you start working in the area?

I started work here in January 2017 as the Marketing & Communications Manager at the iconic St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London. I was working in Marriott and Renaissance Hotels in Paris before that for three and a half years.

2. How has the area changed since?

Before living in London, I had come for a few business trips and had visited the King’s Cross area. I’ve really seen that it has changed so much over the years. I remembered my first time coming into King’s Cross, having lunch at Grain Store, which is no longer there, and there were no buildings around. Now Granary Square is booming and one of THE ‘places to be’ in London. Since I started here one and a half years ago, I’ve also seen all these new stores and companies from different industries moving around the corner, participating to the renaissance of this borough. I feel so much energy, creativity and potential that stimulate our hotel projects.

3. What’s your favourite place in the area?

Granary Square, for me, is the heart of this area and my favourite place. I cycle there every day from where I live, and I really like the vibes there. Seeing the artists going to Central St. Martins, the weekly Canopy Market, people sitting enjoying drinks and watching the sunset along the canal, pop up culinary, music and fashion events. This is really representative of the cultural and social value of King’s Cross. Coal Drops Yard opening in October will further add to that.

4. What do you love about our neighbourhood?

You can discover something new here every week, every week it’s different in the area and something new is happening. I really have the impression that it’s like working in a start-up village, our own Silicon Valley, where all ideas and creativity are possible!

5. What’s your favourite community activity in the area?

The Skip Garden is a great community initiative, getting this sustainable urban and charming garden in the heart of King’s Cross is pretty unique. I really like the fact that it has been built mainly by the locals and people of different ages.

6. What is your favourite story about the area?

Obviously, the story of the St. Pancras building is one my favourite ones! This stunning architectural and iconic hotel is full of stories, I always like to mention the British poet Sir John Betjeman, saving the building from the destruction in 1967 as, for him, St Pancras was “too beautiful and too romantic to survive”!

7. What’s the best community initiative you have seen in the local area?

I would say the Urban Partners networking events, being able to gather key stakeholders from the area in similar positions and having similar interests on a regular basis is really great. It’s a great way to learn more, share ideas and best practices, discover new places and improve our relationships as well as looking at potential common projects.

8. What challenges will the area face in the future?

For me, King’s Cross will have to face up to its own success in terms of space. The fact that this area is attracting a lot of businesses would mean that there won’t be enough space one day! Working on a possible extension up to Camden Market or Islington for example will be an option to continue this development, and I’m sure it’s already in the developer’s plans.

9. Where do you see our neighbourhood in the next ten years and what kind of image will it have?

King’s Cross will be London’s key area, but will also be a significant location in Europe, with hundreds and hundreds of businesses. A creative gateway to other main European cities such as Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and maybe more transportation connections. All the development and effort that has been made in the 2010’s and 2020’s will result in a digital, creative and multicultural well-known hub. King’s Cross could be the promotional window for London, and maybe a way to prove that Brexit doesn’t stop the relation and creativity between England and the rest of Europe.

10. If our neighbourhood had a theme song, what would it be and why?

I’m a big fan of The xx, so I would say ‘Together‘ is quite representative of this area, we all work together for the revival and the renaissance of this area.  It’s also the soundtrack of the movie “Gatsby” which has a nice connection to the cultural and design history in this area.