When it opened in 1910, The Goring was the last hotel to be built in the reign of Edward VII and the first hotel in the world to offer an ensuite bathroom with every bedroom. The foresight of its founder Otto Richard Goring and his successors has meant this quintessentially British hotel has remained at the forefront of London’s society.
It’s where Lady Randolph Churchill lived, frequently visited by her son Winston, and where the Queen often came for tea. Air-conditioning was installed in 1921, revolutionary at the time, and vacuum cleaners were attached via outlets in the skirting boards which allegedly occasionally sucked up guests’ underwear to be blown across London. It’s where the King, Queen and the two young princesses came for breakfast when peace was declared in 1945, and its most recent royal connection was as the hotel of choice of Kate Middleton the night before her wedding to Prince William.
It remains in the Goring family, and whilst many might see it as a rather traditional hotel, it is anything but. It continues to embrace the need to provide faultless service with a friendly atmosphere, but the many quirky touches throughout The Goring ensures it is welcoming, sophisticated, entertaining and endearingly British all at the same time. Despite its heritage there’s absolutely no pomp here.
The only time the hotel closed in its history was to complete the refurbishment programme, the final stage of which saw a transformation of the Front Hall. In keeping with the hotel’s quirky character, its hand-painted wallpaper sees members of the Goring family represented in various amusing guises. Unveiled with a flourish in March as the hotel celebrated 105 years, this year has also seen the re-introduction of scarlet liveried footmen and a Michelin star for the hotel’s Dining Room.
Despite its glamorous connections and almost iconic status, it is a hotel which is hugely family-friendly (think bedtime story library and cookie-making with the chef) and it was en-famille we were invited to stay to enjoy their hospitality. To confess, we’d been before, and loved it. But that was a while ago and pre much of the refurbishment. We celebrated a significant birthday there – drawn by its reputation and its location – slap bang in the middle of Victoria close to Buckingham Palace, The West End and London’s major shopping streets.
The Goring is renowned worldwide for its low key elegance and assurance that comes from being four generations in the same family. And it is those family connections that are behind the hotel’s latest, albeit temporary transformation. Jeremy Goring recently unearthed two period shots of his forebears on the slopes of St Moritz which inspired him to bring their favourite skiing spot to the hotel with the transformation of the popular terrace into a glamorous alpine ski bar. Think old-school glamour with a modern twist. Waiters in vintage ski jumpers, wood sled tables, cosy sheepskins, thick cashmere rugs and twinkling lanterns. Even the cocktail menu has been imported from the iconic Badrutt’s Palace and canapes are equally Swiss-inspired. It is the place to cosy up this winter and will stay until well after New Year. Even if you’re not lucky enough to be staying at the hotel it’s well worth a visit to soak up the fun atmosphere.
Whilst the Dining room might appear rather formal at first, its atmosphere is relaxed and the waiting staff unerringly helpful. We sat down as a family of five, some with rather more unsophisticated palates than others, but even the request for ketchup to accompany one Michelin starred main course was met with a smile and an enormous bowl of tomato sauce duly appeared. The food was fabulous. As mentioned, some of us are more ‘foodie’ than others but every single plate was left scrupulously clean and empty (it doesn’t happen at home like that!). To go into detail of every dish here would be cumbersome, and as they were all so good there is no need for me to give prospective diners any pointers to assist their choice. We retired to the hotel’s always buzzy bar for a nightcap and only reluctantly retired to our rooms at the bewitching hour. (It’s the kind of place you just want to spend the entire evening, which is exactly what we did on our second night.)
Sadly we weren’t in the Royal Suite – but we did take a sneak peek and it is absolutely amazing. The perfect place for families wishing their own home-from-home in central London, with two sitting rooms, two large bedrooms and bathrooms and lots of quirky, homely touches. Every bedroom and suite at The Goring is unique – ours looked over the hotel’s private garden which in the summer sees pop-up bars and private areas available for special celebrations.
It’s fabulous and faultless. It’s characterful and charismatic. Its brilliantly British in the best kind of way and just like Lady Churchill, we didn’t want to leave either.
020 7396 9000