Where does a future princess stay the night before millions watch her wed? Why, the Goring Hotel, of course. There is simply no other place in London that embodies style, service and serenity like the magnificent Goring Hotel.
This revered hotel is solely the creation of a legendary hotel family that still set the standards by which genuine elegance is measured – the remarkable Gorings.
It all began in 1920 when great grandfather Otto Richard Goring welcomed his first guests to his hotel, made 'modern' by the addition of London’s first in-room baths and uniform central heating.
But as every hotel professional knows, heat and water do not make a great hotel. Service does and Otto Richard or OR Goring, as he came to be known, understood this fact very well. With an eye for detail, he carefully thought out each possible guest request and worked hard to address it prior to occurrence. This included purchasing and planting an interior courtyard garden, so delightful even the late Queen Mother enjoyed taking tea there in later years.
In 1926 his son Otto Goring became the hotel’s Managing Director, enabling his father at 57 years of age to travel the world as a representative of the International Hotel Managers’ Association. Later the hotel's founder would be represented by a bronze statue that still watches over the hotel from the entrance lobby, always with a fresh flower in his lapel.
While OR Goring had learned his trade through on the job training, his son Otto Gustave Goring or OG Goring was able to attend the first hotel school ever established, the ever esteemed École Hôtelière in Lausanne, Switzerland. He then went on to intern at some of the world’s leading hotels: Hôtel du Palais in Biarritz, the Plaza-Athenée in Paris and the Claridge’s in London.
OG Goring’s professional training enabled him to bring a quiet air of efficiency to his administration. No detail, no need was beyond his attention. Like his father, he was deeply involved in promoting the finest food and wine as a hallmark of quality within an industry that should value both tradition and innovation.
That ability to tastefully blend heritage with creativity would be sorely tested during World War II when OG Goring, like all London hoteliers, faced crippling shortages of food and staff. And while others lower their standards of cuisine and serve, OG Goring refused to do so.
Executive staff members learned new operational skills and the fairy-tale courtyard garden was replanted with vegetables. Even the flower beds at the Goring’s country home were torn out and endless seedlings set out to supply the London kitchen. And any rabbit or deer daring enough to dine on Goring lettuce also ‘found’ his way to the hotel’s kitchen and the dining room.
All of London, including no less than Winston Churchill himself, came to admire the Goring’s courage not to give into fear and be less than the best, no matter the difficulties. Following the War one professional organization after another, from the International Hotel Association to the Reunion des Gastronomes, showered him with honors.
In 1962 George Goring (or "Mr. George" was as he was affectionately called by the staff) joined his father but NOT before the Goring served as a de facto annex to Buckingham Palace during the 1953 coronation of the present Queen.
Continuing in the family tradition, Mr. George directed the hotel from 1962 to 2005, guiding the hotel through the head-turning days of the 60’s to the beginning of the twenty-first century. Daily events ranged from defending traditional English cuisine in the press to calming various older guests when Jean Shrimpton appeared in the dining room wearing one of the first mini-skirts – all done with the gentle charm and grace that is simply, well, The Goring.
To honor that rare ability (as well as the amazing legacy of the hotel), Mr. George was awarded the Order of the British Empire or OBE in 1992. Beginning in 2005 Jeremy, the fourth member of the Goring family, took the reins and began an exciting program of expansion and refunishing with the assistance of such leading designers as David Linley, Tim Gosling and Nina Campbell.
Today the Goring is as elegance as always and as chic with nothing less than the best in service. No wonder Kate Middleton chose to stay there with her bridal party before her big day. The Goring is as perfect as William’s bride – modern, grounded, elegant and very, very thoughtful.
Post Note, February 3, 2013: Congratulations to London's The Goring Hotel on being granted a royal warrant by Queen Elizabeth. It is the ONLY hotel to be so honored by the Queen. A true English classic!
Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2011