Places whose staff have been wearing red tailcoats since before our grandparents were born: not usually establishments we’d describe as ‘fun’. Not so The Goring. This traditional luxury hotel might be older than your nan, but it still knows how to have a good time.
Sure, it drips with elegance in the way you might expect from a 105-year-old hotel with a Royal Warrant. Yes, there are dark wooden banisters, ornate fireplaces, elaborate plasterwork and gilt edging as far as the eye can see. And, granted, they keep their lightbulbs in gold candlestick holders and have a troupe of bowler-hatted gents on standby lest any guest think about straining themselves by opening the front doors.
But there’s also a real sense of quirkiness to the way it’s run. The decadent bedrooms (walls covered in Gainsborough silk, adjoined by bathrooms hewn out of white and black marble) feature a lighting system that can be set to ‘bright,’ ‘cosy’ or ‘Oooh!’. Due to a previous owner’s fondness for toy sheep, each guest gets a cuddly lamb to take home, and when you come back from a night out, you’ll discover that the turn-down service sees them prop your pal up in bed with a remote control, as though s/he’s watching telly. Also, in the mid-noughties, the flamboyantly good Michelin-starred restaurant did away with traditional chandeliers and replaced them with massive fairy light-strewn Swarovski crystal sculptures which so enraged traditionalist guests that they made the papers – causing such a demand for tables that even Tony Blair couldn’t get into the place. Which would probably be our favourite thing about The Goring if it weren’t for the staff.
Oh my god, the staff. They range from concierges so genuinely friendly that they feel like new pals to waiters who leap out of alcoves as you exit the restaurant to gush farewell at you. We’ve never experienced service quite as dedicatedly friendly in our lives. What’s more, we suspect we never will again.
Time Out tip
Fancy nipping out for a pint with a bit of history? The nearby Plumbers Arms is where Lady Lucan reported the murder of her family’s nanny in 1974.