The Goring, London
Room type: Deluxe King
Duration: 24th > 25th August, 2016
Booked with: Ourisman Travel
In the last 18 months The Connaught has experienced staff turnover on a colossal scale; they have seen a new GM, 2 (soon to be 3) Hotel Managers, Director of Rooms, Director of F&B, Front Office Manager, Restaurant Manager, Assistant Restaurant Manager and numerous members of the reception and restaurant team. They are the Hull F.C of hotels. This has led me to trying out other London hotels, just in case I’ve been missing much in the last few years. Whilst I knew no one at The Goring and knew very little of the hotel, I did know that I liked bargains, so a Virtuoso booking with free breakfast and $100 credit certainly took my fancy.
Not even a 5 minute walk from Victoria Station, you will find The Goring on a side road that somehow manages to make you escape the sheer lunacy of one of Britain’s busiest train stations. If you are in town for tourism, then this could well be the place for you, as it’s positioned near Knightsbridge, Buckingham Palace and, lord help you if you must use it, the Gatwick Express.
As English as it comes. Mandatory to be called James and introduce yourself with emphasis on your surname, followed by speaking your full name. The Goring is the only luxury hotel in London that actually has English people working in it. That deserves a hat tip if ever I saw one. What deserves even more nobility within the realms, is the welcome. Cos what a welcome it is. From the doorman – dressed in their wonderful red and white attire – running to take our luggage, to the handoff to reception, to the head of Guest Relations introducing herself. Everyone delighted to see us and spend time talking to us, just like going home to see my dog.
The room design is not to my liking, but not so much that it bothered me. It fits in with the rest of the hotel, so it cannot come as a surprise as to what style they would go for. In 400 years time, when the current design trends all start coming back and everyone wants their homes and hotels to look like the early 2000s, The Goring will still look exactly the same. That is precisely what their clientele desires and maybe what their great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandchildren will too. Based on my short survey of guests concluding that the average age is 140, I think it’s safe to say there is no rush to change.
The bathroom is smaller than the non-fictional parts of my CV and they suffer from old-hotel-syndrome, where access to the plug sockets requires you to hire a moving crew to rearrange the furniture. Aside from that, there is not much more to add about the room that some pictures cannot say, so once again the emphasis comes back to their service.
I have a standard stay list that I send onto every resort we stay at, providing it meets a criteria of cost/stay, i.e. I won’t send it to a hotel if it’s £500/n and we’re only there 1 night, as I feel it’s unreasonable to ask for some of the things. However here it was passed on as part of the booking and they went ahead and fulfilled almost all of it. It was done to near perfection. For a one night stay, this was beyond impressive. For comparison, I’m writing this on the first of our 3 night stay at Park Hyatt Sydney and they have fulfilled none of it and have even kindly ignored it to such an extent that a bottle of wine is waiting for us when the stay list notes that we don’t drink.
The Goring really went for it. We had 2 gifts and so many welcome notes that there’s a good chance that one was handwritten from Jesus. I felt like I was at a wedding reception, with all the flowers and notes. They provided welcome drinks, welcome food, chocolate gift, some of their own marmalade (…alrighty then) and flowers. With so many gifts, we were left in the predicament of what to do with them as we could not take them all on holiday due to our hand-luggage only rule. As I have some storage at The Connaught, I asked that they send the marmalade and chocolates there. As if sending goods to your competitor was not enough, they decided to do this for free.
The Goring is the very definition of a boutique hotel: small, personalised and highly focused on its aims. That is a polite way of saying there’s not a great deal here.
- Outdoor terrace that leads into the garden.
- Outdoor bar
- Gym, which contains 3 treadmills
- Michelin star restaurant.
I was really taken back by their wonderful garden – a very rare site for central London. We ate outside on the terrace during one of the hottest days of the year, which was only disturbed by the smell of people smoking. The gardens are really quite something, but the stand-out show is the service.
There isn’t one. 300 words saved! Huzzah.
As with all London hotels, just go out and explore. Alternatively, with it not being far from Westminster, I’m sure some excellent people watching might be in order, just as long as you don’t get too carried away, as that might go from being nosey to committing treason – an easy mistake to make.
I’m not even sure what their strategy is with the food, as excluding their dining room (that was fully booked), the options are severely limited and they were doing their best to point us to restaurants nearby. As I was here to try the hotel out, that was not on the agenda, so we were limited to having dinner in their bar. I can’t see the logic that on one hand they would try and get a Michelin star, but on the other if you cannot get into the restaurant, you’re left to fend for yourself.
What also did not help was how busy they were that evening, with what looked like a wedding reception. It made getting served rather slow and somehow resulted in having to send back some orange juice. We ordered 2 glasses of their “freshly squeezed orange juice”, which arrived and clearly were from a carton. Upon complaining of this, the waitress did not understand what we were saying, so we had to speak to the manager. Apologies where forthcoming and an explanation offered. Of course, they had run out of oranges, which is understandable as these are rare, tropical fruits and being in central London I’m quite sure it would be impossible to buy any. Quite what the bill would have said if the manager did not comp them for us, I would have loved to have known.
We seemed to catch the manager at the wrong moment, as he seemed to be rushing around and under pressure. It wasn’t clear on whether we were getting a new drink or not. He came back later to apologise for this and gave us the meal for free, excluding dessert. I definitely cannot complain about service recovery there.
As a non-drinker and wanting to avoid a frequent stream of acidic drinks – and being a big kid – I will tend to order a strawberry milkshake. They could not make me one and the request seemed to startle the waiter. I cannot think of any London hotel I’ve ever stayed that could not fashion up some milk + strawberries, but I suppose if oranges are difficult to come by….
Breakfast was pleasant, without being spectacular, but I could certainly get used to their pastry basket that they bring around. No more bread selection in the morning, thank you very much, I’m going to just eat sugar from now on.
This is where they earn their crust and why you would stay at The Goring. Although the whole ordeal with dinner was not exactly smooth, everything else really impressed me.
- Just like The Beaumont, there is not even the option to add a tip onto any bill. They also offered me the opportunity to avoid having to sign for breakfast, as it is included in the room rate. Too many hotels are obsessed with making you sign for something that doesn’t cost anything, which is just a waste of time.
- When we checked out, they asked for the Uber registration number so they could come and grab us when the car was ready, rather than us waiting outside. It was small touches like this that showed a nice level of thoughtfulness in almost everything they did.
- I thought it was strange that they did not ask us if we wanted a wake-up call when during check-in we mentioned we would be leaving before 8am. Neither did they ask when we wanted turndown, but turndown was done to perfection when we were out of the room having dinner.
- The room key is an actual physical key, which therefore makes it a pain to carry around, but you can leave this key with anyone in the hotel who will look after it for you. It’s a nice move and something Whatley Manor should consider, as the key is about half my body weight.
- Our pattern of losing things in hotel continued, this time with an iPhone. The Goring emailed me to notify me that housekeeping had found it and wondered if they wanted them to try and bring it to us at the airport. Lose property seems an enigma to me, as even at our most regular hotels we are never told if we have left something behind, but have to call to find out. The fact that they sent in housekeeping so soon after we left makes me feel that they do this deliberately in order to help avoid this situation.
- Ok, so no one’s perfect – there was some Asprey packaging in the bathroom, but nothing inside of it.
The Goring offers amongst the best service out of any of London’s luxury hotels.
I found myself having dinner next to one of our ex-Prime Ministers. This has no relevance to you, but I wanted to boast about it.
- Everything smells wonderful – it reminds me of being at my nans, but in a good way.
- Incredible gardens with plenty of seating available.
- Food offering needs improving and a more clear strategy of what they are trying to do needs to be thought out. I cannot believe everyone staying here wants to go eat outside of the hotel.
- It is a boutique hotel, so as the name suggests there are not many facilities here.
- Excellent, jolly good natured British service with a smile.
The Goring cannot compete on the hard product, but at least has the dignity to admit it. Its selling point is the location (although that depends what you are looking for, as I would rather avoid Victoria area and be a few minutes away in Knightsbridge), the wonderful gardens, but most importantly the service. It has no spa, potentially the smallest gym in the world, has very limited food options (albeit its dining room does have a Michelin star) and when you do get the food, it is underwhelming. They seem to know all this, so follow the motto: it’s the service, stupid. That is why you would consider staying here. Would I stay again? Possibly, but not in any rush, as I feel there are better places I’ve been or better places to go. Yet the service did impress me and I’ve finally found out where every single Englishman in hospitality works.