Review: A Weekend at The Goring, London
London's calling as we pay The Goring a visit
For anyone who loves to people-watch there simply can’t be many more perfect opportunities than the lounge bar at The Goring. As we sip our tea, we watch a large family from East London reunite to celebrate early Christmas, listen to various groups of Americans as they all exclaim over the doormen’s traditional tailcoats and bowler hats, and sit fascinated as two extremely dapper, tweed-clad gentlemen take up position beside the fire and unwrap a foil container full of mince pies.
Across the road from Buckingham Palace, The Goring naturally attracts tourists from all over, but it’s also famous for its traditional hospitality and is a long-time favourite of royalty (it’s where Kate Middleton spent the night before becoming the Duchess of Cambridge).
As a quintessentially English hotel, and London’s last-remaining family-owned luxury hotel, The Goring is something of an enigma: traditional but definitely not stuffy. Formal yes, but then little details make you realise that it doesn’t take itself too seriously; life-sized sheep in the bedrooms, exotic animals rampaging across the lobby’s walls and the super-smart Michelin-starred dining room has huge Swarovski crystal blossom chandeliers breaking up the space.
The bedrooms are all individually designed and ours looks over what is perhaps the hotel’s best-kept secret – its private garden, with resident fox. It’s spacious enough for a large (stuffed) sheep as well as a vast bed, and there’s a marble-clad bathroom. There are several suites here at The Goring, including The Royal Suite which must surely be one of the most prestigious in London and comes with a dedicated footman to cater for guests’ every need.
We don’t wait to unpack but head out to wander past the Palace and across St James’s Park (no, not that one) and onto Piccadilly for some window shopping, before looping back up The Mall for a pre-dinner drink and more people-watching in the hotel’s now very busy bar.
Breakfast is an elegant affair in the Swarovski-lit dining room. There’s no buffet but the comprehensive menu has everything you’d expect to see, from porridge and eggs Royale to assorted cold meats, and of course the full English. There’s an interesting mix of hotel guests and business meeting-types all happily tucking in at the same time – it seems The Goring is a go-to when you need to impress your clients too.
The day is bright and clear so we head out on foot (the best way to explore London) and head towards the Churchill War Rooms for a tour of the government’s underground nerve centre during World War II. Left largely unaltered, it’s a fascinating insight into how the war was conducted, and won, and into Churchill himself. Book in advance to avoid the queues, but it is well worth a visit. History lesson over, we continue down Whitehall to Westminster and the Houses of Parliament. We stand to the side as a cavalcade passes us – King Charles and his entourage are returning to Buckingham Palace we are told – and sure enough back up The Mall the flag is now flying over the palace.
Back in the dining room at The Goring for an early-ish Michelin-starred dinner, the staff have time to talk us through the British-based menu, which includes the legendary Eggs Drumkilbo (a favourite of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth which we have to try), and its signature Beef Wellington, another easy choice. Service is friendly and efficient but we still have plenty of time between courses to ponder our fellow diners who are most definitely a very varied bunch.
After a leisurely breakfast the following morning we are sad to say goodbye to what has been a truly cosseting experience. Buildings across London continue to rise, and sometimes fall, and the skyline is constantly changing, but there are some places that stand the test of time. That’s not to say The Goring is standing still in any way but whilst mindful of its ever-changing guest list and their demands, which it meets with charming efficiency, it remains the hallmark of quintessential Britishness.
15 Beeston Place, Westminster, London SW1W 0JW
020 7396 9000