The Goring, London
Grand and glamorous, this family-run hotel oozes British sophistication while still remaining modern and relevant. Its tongue-in-cheek interiors, Michelin-starred restaurant and exemplary service put it high on our wish list for a London staycation.
06 August, 2021
One of the capital's most stately grand dames, The Goring manages to pull off the delicate balancing act of being simultaneously both extravagant and intimate. Housing 69 rooms and suites - including London's most decadent address, the Royal Suite, which comes equipped with a fleet of Downton Abbey-esque butlers - it still comes across as gloriously personal, a trait that is only enhanced by the discreet, ultra-professional service. From the doormen to the concierge and front-of-house team, everyone extends to guests the warmest of welcomes.
Built in 1910 by current owner Jeremy Goring's great-grandfather Otto, the hotel has always been family-run. Winston Churchill's mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, lived here, Kate Middleton stayed here on the night before her marriage to Prince William and Jean Shrimpton shocked by wearing one of the world's first miniskirts to the hotel's 50th birthday party. Oh, and if its guestbook of lords and ladies, dukes and duchesses wasn't impressive enough, it's also the only London crash pad to hold a prestigious royal warrant. How's that for a dinner-party titbit?
Aside from entertaining the well-heeled, The Goring's Belgravia location and quintessentially English traditions make it a top pick for a multigenerational staycation. On our visit, my mother was enthralled by the starry tales shared by staff, found humour in the playfulness of the interiors - the lobby features hidden caricatures of Jeremy Goring and his staff and a flock of life-size sheep is scattered around the property - and appreciated the level of care shown at every turn (our waiter remembering how we take our coffee, bath salts being supplied in a jiffy and being wished a big "happy birthday" at every opportunity).
The devil is undoubtedly in the detail here: think bicycle valets on hand to park and watch over two-wheeled chariots, complimentary in-room cocktails on arrival and staff primping and pressing dinner outfits the moment suitcases are unzipped. Each guest receives a miniature stuffed toy sheep to mirror those found snuggling up to the fireplace, guarding the lifts and greeting you on the way to your room. Staff will tell you that the idea behind them was so that those who travelled frequently for business would remember where they were on waking: "Oh, a miniature sheep, I must be at The Goring in London!" Nowadays, kids and adults compete to gather their own flock.
From the Michelin-starred food in The Dining Room to the aperitifs in the tranquil secret garden and graciousness of the always-on-hand staff, The Goring tops our lists for a celebratory city staycation. It might be a little too avant garde for a spontaneous Tuesday-night stay, but if you're planning a treat for your significant other/parents/grandparents - or jostling for bonus points with your in-laws - The Goring will leave you feeling like you've snagged a starring role in The Crown.
All 69 rooms and suites are individually decorated, with most featuring hand-painted silver-leaf wallpaper, all-marble bathrooms and beds dressed in sumptuous Italian linens. Antique dressing tables, velvet armchairs and hidden TVs disguised as art add to the stately feel. Plastic ducks and cuddly sheep are a fun touch, and some rooms, including the Superior we stayed in, overlook the gorgeous garden.
The usual in-room champagne is replaced here by complimentary cocktails. Expect elevated takes on the classics - an expertly crafted Manhattan, Gin Martini or Cosmopolitan.
What's for breakfast?
Sumptuous dishes such as lobster omelette and eggs Drumkilbo (fresh white crab meat and chopped prawns mixed with hard-boiled egg yolk, tomato and crème fraiche)grace the menu - the Queen Mother was said to be particularly fond of the latter. We opted for the full English - the Clarence Court eggs giving it a bougie upgrade - and happily worked our way through basketfuls of just-baked breads and croissants.
How about lunch and dinner?
Meals are taken in the duck-egg-blue dining room, whose Swarovski crystal chandeliers were rumoured to have once inspired the Queen Mother's Christmas lights.
The Dining Room received its first Michelin star in 2015 and has retained it ever since. Today, with Richard Galli at the helm, the menu celebrates prime British produce such as blush-pink Romney Salt Marsh lamb and caught-that-morning Cornish fish, with truffles and wild herbs handpicked by The Goring's own forager.
A Sneak Peek inside The Goring
Is there a bar?
"Bar" doesn't quite cut it. We're talking a Great Gatsby-worthy parlour where the fabolous and well-heeled come when they're a bit parched to enjoy live piano music in a convivial atmosphere.
The Goring Bar's guests are politely requested to leave mobiles, laptops et al behind - staff will ensure devices are locked away safely. We're here for it. There's nothing worse than being out with people more interested in filming their next TikTok post than making conversation.
There's no spa, and the fitness room is small but perfectly usable, with a fine selection of weights, plus treadmill and cross trainer. The real showstopper is the grounds. One of the largest private gardens in the capital, this meticulously manicured nirvana feels like your own secret green space amid the city's concrete. Sit on the garden veranda for your morning coffee, midday spritz and evening aperitif, while, on Saturdays, lobster and fizz are served around the firepit.
Things you should know
Prepare to be forever disappointed in the service you receive at any other establishment after your stay here. Standout service is The Goring's calling card. Staff greet guests by name, bar orders are committed to memory and champagne appears as if by magic if you're here for a special occasion. Bath salts will be brought up before you've even turned on the taps, travel-weary clothes hung and pressed on arrival and cabs called whenever required. Big John, who's been The Goring's concierge for over a decade, is on hand to book theatres, restaurants and bespoke London experiences, while Peter, the doorman and longest-serving member of staff (56 years and counting), dazzles guests with star-studded stories of days gone by.
Within a short walk, you can find…
The IRL cast of The Crown. Sure, we're being flippant, but Queen Liz is just around the corner, as are the rest of London's top draws. Whether you're a city-break traveller or playing tourist in your own back yard, The Goring's central location is unbeatable, with all of the Big Smoke's best sights being found within a royal wave.