Discreetly positioned on a quiet side street just a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace is The Goring, the last remaining five-star hotel in London still owned and run by the family who built it. And, as the place where princess-to-be Kate Middleton will stay the night before the Royal Wedding next Friday, it is the hotel that everyone is talking about…
With Buckingham Palace as its neighbour, The Goring has a rich royal heritage. Queen Mary, wife of George V, often took afternoon tea there, and the late Queen Mother was a regular visitor. For the Queen’s coronation in 1953, the hotel was used as an annexe to the Palace for the vast members of royal families who came to visit.
It was the world’s very first hotel to have en suite bathrooms and heating in every room. On his visit to London for the coronation of King George VI in 1937, the Norwegian Crown Prince famously chose to stay at The Goring over Buckingham Palace, as there he would have his own bathroom – whilst at Buckingham Palace he would “have to share a bath with five people!”.
Opened in 1910, The Goring was the last grand hotel to be built in the Edwardian era. Founder, Otto R Goring persuaded the Duke of Westminster to sell him the plot of land, where he knocked down a line of cottages and a pub to make way for his hotel. The surrounding district of Belgravia was one of London’s most fashionable residential areas and remains so to this day – with its grand squares, stately mansions and elegant white stucco terraces.
In 1921, air-conditioning was brought to The Goring when an enormous fan was installed on the roof with pipes to every room. Vacuums were attached via outlets in the rooms – and underwear is said to have been sucked out into the air, blowing across London!
Besides its royal visitors, Lady Randolph Churchill lived at The Goring in 1919 and her son Winston Churchill was a regular visitor. During World War II, the hotel became a command centre for General Dwight Eisenhower, chief of the Allied Forces. And, during the ‘swinging’ 1960s, Jean Shrimpton caused a stir when she appeared in one of the first miniskirts at the hotel!
The Goring is a real slice of Englishness in cosmopolitan London.