Estación María Zambrano (Málaga)

In Britain, stations can be pretty grim places. Of course there are some nice stations, such as St Pancras International, which has a decent restaurant and a good if an expensive bar. However in most cases, the highlights of station culinary experience are Burger King and Upper Crust, and both the interior and the exterior of stations are best characterized as drab. Stations are usually drafy, cold places with too few seats.

I was very pleasantly surprised during a recent trip to Málaga, Spain. There, the station, named after María Zambrano Alarcón, a Spanish essayist and philosopher, was attached to a huge shopping and entertaining centre called Vialia which boasted a cinema. The food was more than tolerable. The station not only functioned as a place where trains depart and arrive, but also a destination for those who want to shop or watch the new film. The bus station is right next to it, so it’s easy to travel further by different mode of transport.

Stations next to shopping centres (or more accurately, the other way around) are quite common in Japan, however, I hadn’t come across such a well-integrated example in Europe.

Looking at stations in London, perhaps I was too harsh initially. Victoria is actually not too bad, at least in terms of shopping amenities. Personally, I think Network Rail should build a huge underground passage between St Pancras / King’s Cross and Euston and have lots of shops and cafes. But that’s another pipe dream ...