Review – Goring Hotel Bar
In an industry dominated by multinational corporations with huge resources behind them, the true family owned and operated luxury hotel is a rare beast. So rare in fact, that the Goring Hotel is London’s only family-owned luxury hotel. Despite the strong competition this hotel, nestled in upmarket Belgravia a stones throw from Buckingham Palace, is still going strong more than 100 years after it was opened in 1910.
What family businesses might lack in scale, they most certainly make up in the ability to be truly individual. The Goring is no exception, and whilst it is most certainly a luxury hotel with all the necessary trimmings, the odd dash of quirkiness such as the sheep (not real of course) that are dotted around the hotel add a refreshingly un-corporate touch that give this hotel its unique appeal. Other unique touches include the fact that it has its own garden space, which in true Goring style, was turned into a beach bar complete with several tonnes of sand during the summer of 2011.
The bar itself looks out on the beautiful gardens, and the combination of the timeless and decadent interior styling with the quintessential Englishness of the garden is reminiscent of a country manor rather than a hotel located irresistibly close to Victoria station. Such a location might be considered a recipe for throngs of tourists clogging up its charming rooms but instead there is a definite air that everyone present belongs. This is not to say there is even a whiff of snobbishness about the place, rather they keep themselves to themselves to a large extent and ensure that a visit feels like the real deal, and not as if you are part of a tourist attraction.
The cocktails here are much like the hotel itself, understated and focusing on classic winning formulas. The compact list includes the Martini’s, Manhattan’s, Maragrita and even a few things that don’t begin with M. Such a list can expose weaknesses in execution but sure enough there are no such fears here, with the delivery is spot on. Another nice touch referencing the family ownership of the hotel are the ‘Centenery’ drinks dedicated to the four generations of family that have run the hotel. Each is based on the owners favourite drink and demonstrate that this bar is capable of some creative thinking in addition to delivering solid classics. The Jeremy Mojito for example represents the choice of the current owner and, unusually for my taste very successfully combines rum, lime juice, limoncello and Coca Cola!
Much is made of the hotel’s association with the Royal Family and so, whilst seemingly every brand in existence is trying to link themselves with the Jubilee this summer, the release of a special cocktail by the Goring to mark the occasion is here at least a perfectly justifiable one. ‘The 1952’ is a Martini made with Hendrick’s gin, and Noilly Prat vermouth, garnished with silver leaf and served in a bespoke Swarovski glass with a stem filled with crystal chatons. Selling for £120 it doesn’t come cheap but the glass is yours to take home; just perfect for those looking for a bit of memorabilia of a more sophisticated nature.
The Goring bar is a genuinely unique offering amongst the luxury hotel scene in London and as such is a must-visit. The cocktail list might not have the creative flair seen in some other bars, but there is nothing wrong with a well-made classic in my book. For a peaceful retreat in the heart of London, you’ll be hard-pushed to beat it.