The Goring offers an exceptionally rare experience spiced with an inimitable British sense of humour, as sue Wallace discovers.
An impeccably British hotel with an eccentric sense of humour.
there’s a baroness adorned in pearls, an elderly earl, a portly politician and his mini-skirted girlfriend, a British soapie star and an Indian princess sporting a large diamond dining at the Goring tonight.
how do I know? I’ve been in the loo just up the elegant hallway eavesdropping on two regulars gossiping about “who’s who” in the Dining room revamped by Viscount David Linley in 2005. the three pale pink swarovski crystal chandeliers, branching down from the ceiling, at first had some Goring devotees up in arms. rumour has it the late Baroness thatcher asked when the Christmas decorations were coming down.
But tonight British food triumphs under executive chef shay Cooper. For starters, it’s eggs drumkilbo, the late Queen Mother’s favourite, followed by fillet of beef Wellington and Eton mess.
the royal seal of approval No wonder shay has just earned the Dining room its first Michelin star along with a string of other awards. the place is humming tonight, something that pleases Jeremy Goring, the affable fourth generation owner of the 69-room hotel. Located in upmarket Belgravia, nine minutes from Buckingham Palace, it was opened in 1910 by Jeremy’s great grandfather, Otto Goring, with world firsts such as private bathrooms and central heating.
Back in the day, many royal guests preferred the hotel to chilly Buckingham Palace and it remains a favourite; the Duchess of Cambridge spent the night before her wedding in the royal suite.
the four-room suite that Jeremy Goring describes as “the icing on the cake” is fit for a princess. Decorated in sumptuous Gainsborough silks including one originally woven in 1910 for the titanic’s first class dining room, it boasts priceless British antiques, objets d’art and a few quirky touches; a shower big enough for six features a large photo of Queen Victoria watching as you soap up.
Croquet and cocktails My room, a Delightful suite, lives up to its name and overlooks a private garden, where croquet is played in the summer.
In winter the alpine terrace resembles a scene from st Moritz, with cocktails, fondue, antique skis, cashmere rugs and waiters clad in vintage ski jumpers.
Afternoon tea is an institution at the Goring with traditional brews, dainty sandwiches, buttery scones and pastries you can’t say no to. But it is the decadent cocktails in the bar with its deep crimson and gold decor, handsprayed red lacquer walls and tiger-print handstitched carpet that entice you to settle in. Overseen by Dubliner, Brian Kinsella, who joined the hotel in 1994, it is perfect for people watching.
Part of the magic of the hotel is the impeccable service from doorman Peter sweeney, who has clocked up 50 years, the concierge team led by Big John and the fleet of footmen resplendent in red tailcoats, immaculate gold-trimmed waistcoats and broad smiles.
Fancy your newspaper ironed or a gourmet picnic in the park with a quartet? Almost anything is possible.
A knock on the door reveals a footman bearing a silver tray with ingredients for a Cosmopolitan cocktail.
“Would you like me to make it?” he asks. It sure beats turndown chocolates and bookmarks.
humour in the wallpaper Yes, the Goring is gloriously British, but stuffy? No, it has a sense of humour. Just check out the new handpainted wallpaper in the lobby depicting an English parkland with wild animals and you can see Goring family caricatures.
Back at home, a parting gift, a small toy sheep that George Goring, Jeremy’s father, introduced as a guest keepsake, evokes a smile every time I look at it.
And as for that diamond-clad Indian princess, I won’t forget her comment as she swept out the door with her toy.
“this hotel is simply divine,” she declared. No doubt Otto Goring would be a happy man. travel file Accommodation www.thegoring.com Getting there Qantas in partnership with Emirates flies to London via Dubai. www.qantas.com.au www.emirates.com Information www.visitlondon.com