For the country mouse seeking a place to stay in London, this historic hotel hits all the right notes, says Alexandra Henton
IT can be trying to find the right place to stay in London; too corporate, too poky, too faceless. But there is one place that seems to encourage a head nod of universal approval: The Goring. A quick straw poll elicited enthusiasm from everyone to whom the name was mentioned. Not too flash and not too edgy, The Goring sits elegantly in its own inimitable bracket.
Still family owned, the hotel was founded by Otto Goring (a travelling chef to various members of royalty) in 1910. It was the first hotel to introduce a bathroom for every room, and boasted an Escoffier-trained chef; a marker of intent that still guides the hand today.
Compact yet charming
Arriving on a sodden and windswept evening, we were swiftly whisked inside by the doorman and shown to our room on the fifth floor; a superior room with a compact yet charming bedroom, short hallway and bathroom. The comfortable bed and decent bathroom (shower over a bath) were just as a guest would expect. Room service and breakfast menus could be accessed by QR codes, Asprey goodies were on hand in the bathroom (also found in the smartest ducal castles) and old hunting photographs graced the bedroom wall.
George Goring, the third member of the family to run the hotel, was a stalwart supporter of team chasing, sponsoring the sport for 36 years before his retirement in 2013. Ask any sporting sort about The Goring and they’d probably say “The Boring Gorings” (a moniker under which the team chasing team ran for years) or tell you about their most recent stay.
There is an understated yet comfortable luxury that makes The Goring feel like home for the country mouse arriving in the city. Elegant wallpaper adds an aura of country house chic to the London location, and the cocktail bar and lounge (walk-in guests are welcome) would be as at home in a stately as they are here; plush chairs, roaring fires and staff with the manners of a butler.
We made short work of the cocktail menu and plumped for a classic champagne cocktail, that potent combination of The Goring Delamain Pale & Dry XO cognac with an Angostura bitters-infused brown sugar cube topped with champagne. Also deserving of attention is the new signature cocktail list, where homage is paid to notable friends and guests. The BLT (Baroness Lady Thatcher) is a reminder of the Iron Lady’s frequent lunch meetings at the hotel, while The Coronation Cup pays homage to the late Queen.
Once suitably oiled there is either the cocktail bar menu, including treats such as warmed Beauvale with wild honey and crackers (anywhere serving warmed cheese and honey deserves a medal, particularly Beauvale), or the dining room. After eggs drumkilbo (see box), it was impossible to resist a proper beef wellington for two, served whole, carved with a flourish at the table and accompanied by parmentier potato hiding unctuous slowcooked short rib underneath.
Dining at The Goring is a delight, neither buzzy chaos nor starchy formality. The service is the sort one hopes for as a guest; the welcome is warm and inviting, the hospitality formal yet friendly. The seasonal menu contained nothing on it that wouldn’t have been a treat to eat, from partridge pie and fallow deer to turbot and Rhug Estate lamb. It is a canny combination of tradition and modernity in a thoroughly well-executed package.
As the only hotel with a Royal Warrant from the late Queen, The Goring always hits the right note between sentiment, fawning formality and twee. There are few places whose name garners such welcome recognition. What a delight it is to stay.
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The Goring classics
For those fond of tradition there is something wholly welcoming about the menu at The Goring, most particularly the hotel’s classic dishes, which elicit fan status whether you have been once or return time and again. The Goring eggs drumkilbo (reputed to be a favourite of the late Queen’s mother) is a refreshing combination of crab, poached quails egg, lobster and caviar served with lobster crackers that acts as the perfect precursor to The Goring’s lobster omelette.
The Goring, 15 Beeston Place, London SW1W 0JW
Tel: 020 7396 9000