Few hotels in London evoke romantic escapism quite like The Goring. From the moment you are ushered through the grand columned entrance and across the gleaming tiled floor by red-liveried footmen, you are transported to an opulent and delightfully English other world, where life-sized wooden sheep graze by the fireplace and you might catch a duchess slipping out the side door.
Opened by Otto Richard Goring in 1910 on a quiet stretch close to Buckingham Palace, so entwined is the Royal Family with the history of the hotel that there were once rumours of a secret tunnel connecting the palace to the property. It is the only hotel in the world to hold its own Royal Warrant, which it was awarded in 2013, and the Queen enlisted the pastry chefs to make Prince Charles’s christening cake. The Duchess of Cambridge holed up here before her wedding to Prince William and the Queen Mother had dishes named in her honour.
The Firm aside, The Goring has long been a fashionable haunt of the upper classes, and it remains the only hotel in London that is owned and run by the family that built it. The property is currently managed by Otto Goring’s great-grandson, Jeremy, who instills a great sense of fun. Leave your stiff upper lip at the door and enjoy sybaritic long lunches and champagne afternoon tea in the bright and contemporary, plant-filled Veranda, or let coffee segue into cocktails in the lounge – a decadently cosy space of velvet furnishings and tiger-print cushions. Last summer, a Shetland pony moved into the half-acre private garden and the hotel’s hold music of choice is Mad Dogs and Englishmen by Noël Coward.
Rooms & decor
The Goring was one of the first hotels to employ Russell Sage, the interior designer renowned for his whimsical, maximalist interiors, who has since lent his flamboyant finesse to The Fife Arms and Belmond Cadogan Hotel. Caricatures of notable staff hide among mustachioed walrusses and wafting palms in the hand-painted Fromental silk wallpaper that elegantly covers the front hall. In the bar and lounge, look out for sculptural plasterwork featuring mermaids and sea creatures.
Chandelier-lit rooms are wonderfully chintz, featuring elegant drapes and Edwardian mahogany furniture. Marbled bathrooms are laden with toiletries by another Royal Warrant holder, Asprey, and have ‘a proper crapper’ as Jeremy Goring refers to it – an original Thomas Crapper flush toilet with a pull chain.
The hotel’s most requested room is the impeccable Royal Suite, which costs no less than £7,500 per night and was christened by the Duchess of Cambridge after it was renovated in 2015.
Food and drink
The dining room, designed by the Queen’s nephew, Viscount David Linley, was awarded a Michelin star in 2016 and excels in pin-sharp, white tablecloth grandeur. Elegant, delicious dishes include chestnut velouté with wild mushrooms and black truffle dumpling and eggs drumkilbo – a signature lobster and egg-based dish, which was reportedly one of the late Queen mother’s favourite dishes. The tender and rosy Beef Wellington is also a highlight, wheeled out on a silver trolley.
Most surprisingly for a Michelin-starred hotel restaurant, it attracts a loyal crowd, who clearly treat it as their local. On a Monday evening, it was fully booked with affable, silver-haired seniors peeling through the extensive wine list, alongside buoyant family gatherings.
In the morning, the hotel fills with business breakfasts, which spill into the smart, wood-panelled meeting rooms – the same rooms where Winston Churchill liaised with allied leaders during World War II, while the Polish army in exile was based upstairs.
Potted greenery dangles from the glass roof in the brightly coloured Veranda, which serves a more laidback lunch menu of upmarket British classics, like grilled Dover sole or lobster omelette, as well as afternoon tea. In the summer months, the Veranda opens onto the pretty private garden, where guests are invited to partake in a spot of lighthearted croquet.
Don’t expect a standard travel cot here. The Goring rolls out the red carpet for little ones, offering stately wooden beds with thick, comfy mattresses, fit for a little prince or princess.
Lots of hotels are expensive or swanky, but The Goring is properly posh. Comfort is king at this no-decadence-spared royal hideaway that, like any great luxury hotel, also feels decidedly homely.
Rooms from £455 per night including breakfast. The Goring, 15 Beeston Place, London SW1W 0JW