Before our stay at The Goring Hotel, I was vaguely aware that this prestigious family-run establishment, founded more than 100 years ago by Mr. Otto Goring and currently run by his great grandson Mr. Jeremy Goring, had a glittering reputation among royals, dignitaries and A-list stars alike. I was also aware that the Duchess of Cambridge and her family checked into The Goring the eve before the royal wedding. So far, so five-star, you might say. What I wasn’t aware of, however, was just how much this elegant Belgravia property, just a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace, welcomed its littlest guests, which for me is the true sign of impeccable service. From the effusive greetings of the bowler-hatted doorman to the friendly interest of the twinkly-eyed receptionist, my two children were treated like a prince and princess in waiting throughout our memorable stay. As well as being family run, The Goring is most definitely family friendly, as our visit amply testifies.
I can’t imagine that many of The Goring’s guests get to the hotel by bus (at least not from the Bentleys and Aston Martins we saw pulling up), but that’s exactly what we did. It was a pleasant hour’s ride from our north London home taking in many of our metropolis’ most famous landmarks from our prime position on the upper deck front seats.
A place of splendour
The last grand hotel to be built in the Edwardian era The Goring was, however, the first in the world to offer every guest in its 69 rooms an en suite bathroom. These days that’s a luxury we all take for granted but rather than rest on its laurels The Goring has continued to up the ante over it’s century long existence and today offers such richness and opulence at every turn it’s impossible not to be seduced. From its handsome flag and ivy festooned façade to the steps leading up to its magnificent wooden panelled front door, The Goring immediately sweeps you into a comfy and cosseted world where you leave the hustle and bustle of city life firmly behind you. Wearing a fetching cream frock coat, the receptionist quickly checked us in and then personally escorted us up to our fourth floor accommodation in the charmingly antiquated elevator, which the children declared very Willy Wonkaesque and absolutely loved. Our interconnecting double and twin rooms elicited excitable ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’ from the children as they ran around opening draws and cupboards, switching on the flat screen TVs and bouncing on the sumptuous beds. The discovery of two toy sheep on their pillows along with an activity pack ratcheted up the excitement level several notches, as did the receptionist’s announcement that they were expected in the kitchen in an hour’s time to attend a cookie making class. It wasn’t just the children who were bowled over by the surroundings because, truth be told, my husband and myself were too. We’re both fairly seasoned travellers and have stayed in a fair few fancy hotels in our time, but what struck us about The Goring was how intimate and cosy it felt – like being the house guest of a rather aristocratic and slightly idiosyncratic aunt (if only such a relative existed). Indeed, visit the hotel this Christmas and you’ll witness some marvellously eccentric Christmas trees decorating many of the rooms and the lobby, all created by leading British brands. A particular favourite of ours was the one by boutique toyshop Honeyjam that supports family charities and has the most cute felt flower fairies.
Food, glorious food
As soon as it was time, my children were pleading with me to take them down to the kitchen for their cookie making session. Leaving my husband gently snoozing on our vast double bed, we made our way to reception where the lovely receptionist offered to escort us to the kitchen which involved going through an unassuming door and down a steep, narrow staircase. Like a swan gliding through the water, The Goring is all peace and serenity above, but as soon as you go below stairs you realise just how much hard work and sheer manpower it takes to create this illusion. The kitchen was bustling with activity, with pots bubbling on stoves and chefs busily prepping dishes for that evening’s dinner. We were shown to a corner, where we were greeted by the pastry chef and his young apprentice, who would be assisting with the cookie making.
Finding myself temporarily redundant I decided to retire to the lounge bar where I was joined by my (now awake) husband for a glass of something long, cold and fizzy. Our seats overlooked the hotel’s carefully sculptured garden (the largest private hotel garden in central London and a popular party venue in the summer months) and we happily whiled away a wonderfully relaxing hour before it was time to collect the children. Wearing chef's hats and aprons, the children certainly looked the part and tasting the fruit (or should that be biscuits) of their labours later (hand delivered in gift wrapped boxes to our rooms) they apparently baked the part, too. We’d arranged to meet friends that evening at a local Italian, so it was not until the following morning that we got to sample some of the other delights the kitchen had to offer. The dining room at The Goring is grand without being pompous and from the moment we entered the service was flawless. When our breakfasts arrived (the fully monty for my husband, soft boiled eggs and soldiers for the children and a fine herb omelette for me) the presentation was beautiful while the execution was meticulous. Carefully dipping the soldiers into their perfectly cooked eggs, the children fell uncharacteristically silent. Looking at my husband, I knew he was thinking the same thing – how easy it would be to get used to this.
Things to do
With the West End within walking distance (albeit a brisk half an hour one, but after that breakfast we all needed it), we’d already decided to round off our indulgent family city break with a show, and what better one to see than Matilda: The Musical. A riot of colour, craziness and comedy, all underpinned by incredible performances from children and adults alike (a special hats off however to Matilda’s heart-tugging turn and that of the terrifying Miss Trunchball), it was the perfect end to the most perfect weekend.
The Goring exudes charm and class, but is totally without pretension. The staff will happily go that extra mile to make your stay a memorable one, and they genuinely seem to embrace children, even occasionally rowdy ones who enjoyed sliding on their knees on the polished marble floor (they know who they are…)
Why we’ll go back
For an incredible family treat and one you will all remember for many, many years to come, I don’t think there’s much that can beat the warmth, hospitality and sheer luxuriousness of The Goring.
One night in two interconnecting rooms, for a family of 4, starts from £900 including VAT and breakfast. For more details visit thegoring.com or call 0207 396 900
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