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The Goring Centenary

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The Goring, London’s only family-owned five star hotel celebrates its centenary in 2010

This year The Goring in London celebrates its centenary. For Jeremy Goring, the fourth Goring to run it, those celebrations will be all about family, staff and guests. Ever since his great-grandfather, O.R. Goring, built and opened the hotel in 1910, The Goring has reflected one family’s passion for quality. And it is now the only 5-star hotel in London that is still owned and run by the family that built it.

Jeremy explains,
“That we are still standing as a privately owned hotel today is a miracle. Four successive generations have worked at delivering the best service and warmest ambience in town. We are on the cutting edge when we need to be - whilst we may have occasionally thrown out some traditions, we’ve dared to keep many others. So the flavour remains as resolutely English as ever… maybe all the more so for the rarity of it. ”

In 2009, it was awarded the Catey for ‘Best Independent Hotel’ and it was named ‘Hotel of the Year’ by Pride of Britain Hotels. In early 2009 readers of Condé Nast Traveller magazine in the USA voted it as having the ‘Best Service in the UK’ and Travel and Leisure magazine seems to constantly vote it Top London Hotel.

O.R. Goring proudly opened his Belgravia hotel on 2 March 1910. The price of a room was seven shillings and sixpence, or 37p. It was the first hotel in the world to offer a private bathroom and central heating in every bedroom, unlike Buckingham Palace right next door.

This is why visiting Royals always preferred to stay at The Goring – as they still do today, although they are now joined by a steady stream of Presidents, Prime Ministers and entertainers. Mortals are also extremely welcome of course, and The Goring offers a uniquely timeless, relaxed and informal atmosphere for all this splendour.

O. R.’s son O. G., took over as Managing Director in 1926, having attended the École Hôtelière in Lausanne and worked at some of the finest hotels in Europe. O. G. steered the hotel through World War II – the enormous garden was given over to growing tomatoes and at home his wife Edna grew vegetables for the hotel guests. Smog-defeating net curtains were made from Spitfire fuel filter-rolls and eggs were plentiful thanks to her 300 chickens.

The reputation of The Goring as THE place for “proper” British food was cemented during this period although ironically the whole thing started under the Escoffier-trained Chef de Cuisine, Gasc.

Then came George Goring. For the next 43 years his outrageous persona and stubborn eye for perfection set the style and created the Goring charm that has made the hotel what it is today. In honour of his invaluable services to the hotel industry, he was awarded the OBE in 1992, and voted Hotelier of the Year by his peers.   

In 2005 Jeremy took over and today he is proud to continue the family traditions of extreme individuality and absolute shunning of all things corporate. But the highest standards of service have been built on further. Over the past five years, Jeremy has been investing in the fabric of the hotel, first overseeing the transformation of the Dining Room by David Linley and the refurbishment of rooms and suites by designers Tim Gosling and Nina Campbell. A new afternoon tea veranda has been added, overlooking the hotel’s very private gardens. 

Last year Tim Gosling came back to give the Bar, Lounge and Terrace a wonderfully theatrical and silk-lined new look. Finally, this year saw the redesign of many of the largest rooms in the hotel, overlooking the garden, by Russell Sage, using historic silks specially rewoven for The Goring by the Royal Warrant holders, Gainsborough.

Jeremy was lucky to inherit the larger-than-life David Morgan-Hewitt (now the Hotel’s Managing Director), affectionately known as “Big Dave”. David is probably the UK’s top hotelier and easily the most recognisable, charismatic raconteur in the hotel industry.

Says Jeremy, “We are still a young up-and–comer of a place with lots to prove. But standing in the lobby here, I wonder if my Great Grandad envisaged anything like this hotel as it is now. I hope so; The Goring feels as new today as it did in 1910. But one thing that hasn’t changed. We have a brilliant group of staff who deliver unparalleled, bend-over-backwards service every day to delight our guests. And they are ALL human beings. It’s a timeless recipe that seems to work.”

A year-long calendar of centenary celebrations includes:
100 Years of Glorious Goring Grub – throughout 2010 the Dining Room will feature period dishes from The Goring menu archives. This is to be launched at a lunch attended by top British chefs.
Anyone for croquet? Summer 2010 is all about splits, roquets, the full roll and level play in The Goring gardens - as well as afternoon tea, cocktails and croquet lessons, courtesy of another great British family business, Jaques of London, specialists in outdoor games since 1795.
Wine dinners with two other great families – those of Petrus and Domaine de la Romanee-Conti.
In December 2009, the uncorking of The Goring Meursault, specially made under the auspices of the Hospices de Beaune and the popping of The Goring Centenary Champagne … both of which will feature prominently at celebrations throughout the centenary year.
A festive Christmas Carol Service at St Peter’s, Eaton Square, will end the year on a high note (for those who feel sheepish about all this revelry). Amen!

In the lobby of The Goring stands a statue of its founder, O. R. Goring. The inscription on the base of the statue reads “I opened this hotel, on March 2, 1910.” Every morning, John Andrews, head concierge, puts a fresh flower in the buttonhole of the statue. On March 2, 2010, he will do so with particular pride.  

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