London has lots of hotels. There are the sleek, shiny modern ones – all Bang-and-Olufsen, locally-sourced and contemporary design everything with chichi molecular cocktail nightclub attached. There are the grand and glitzy palaces where everyone from Elizabeth Taylor to Winston Churchill has stashed diamonds, quaffed Champers and smoked cigars during their stay. And then there’s The Goring. Which is quite, quite different to anywhere else you can stay in town.
You might not have heard of The Goring – although you should have. And if you have heard of The Goring, it’s probably because a certain former Miss K. Middleton chose to spend her last night under her maiden name at said Belgravia hotel. But there are many other reasons that The Goring is a particular and rather special place.
First of all, it’s the only London hotel that’s still owned and run by the family that built it. Oh yes, over 100 years after Otto Richard Goring first opened his establishment, it’s still a Goring that oversees proceedings. And the hotel – much like any family – feels like it has lots of stories to tell. Some are tales of fame and fortune: the first en suite bathrooms in the world, the Royal Warrant granted in 2013, or Jean Shrimpton causing a stir by appearing at the hotel in one of the first mini skirts.
Then there’s the size of The Goring; with just 69 rooms and suites, the hotel’s size lends it an intimate feel – almost like you’re staying with a rather grand cousin while in town. And the staff’s attention to detail and charming, personal service continues this theme. From the chambermaids and porters to the concierge and Maitre d’, there’s a welcoming, friendly smile from everyone. If they’re pretending to enjoy being there, we’d like to commend their acting prowess.
In terms of style, The Goring is most certainly a grand, five-star hotel. But it’s not too grand – think elegant and tasteful, what some might describe as quintessentially British, perhaps. Each of the rooms and suites has been individually designed, and while the rooms are most certainly luxurious, even the suites have a cosy feel to them. And we don’t intend that in the sense that an estate agent might. The hotel actually has some semi-permanent residents who choose to live here – and we can see why; it’s a real home from home.
Although The Goring opened over a century ago, luckily the current team have seen fit to ensure that facilities offer every modern comfort. Even in the technology stakes, the hotel’s slightly quirky charm continues; yes, there’s a plasma screen TV at the end of the bathtub, but you can also choose the ‘oooh’ option via the room’s customisable lighting scheme. We approve. Beds are as comfortable as a (future) princess might expect, there are super soft Egyptian cotton towels in the bathrooms and it’s all quite simply elegantly understated.
However, it would be wrong to describe breakfast at The Goring as an understated affair. Served in the light-flooded dining room, it’s grand, grand, grand. White linen tablecloths, excellent coffee in china cups and an elegant serenity that would make an express breakfast seem rather rude. No, this is meal you’ll want to linger over. From the fresh fruit to the delicious selection of breads and pastries, everything is of superb quality. The eggs are Burford Browns of course, cooked to perfection and served just as you’d like. Would we prefer our bacon crispy? Or perhaps opt for scrambled with slices of smoked salmon? Presentation is impeccable, and portions are just right – generous, but not so you’ll feel overfaced.
There’s a calm and a sense of serenity that belies The Goring’s location in the heart of busy Belgravia – can Victoria station be just five minutes in that-a-way? It is. Tucked down an unassuming side street, it seems a little like The Goring is a very well kept secret. And visiting the hotel’s intimate, sophisticated lounge bar of an evening, we can only hope it stays a secret a little while longer.
For more information and to book, see The Goring’s website.