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LUXURY HOTELS: The Goring, London, England
 Style: Discreet and royal

Scene: Neighbours to the Palace

THOSE LOOKING for an Easter bonnet should look no further than the hats inspired by The Goring hotel. A hotel that inspires a top London Milliner? Isn't that a little unusual? Indeed, but then The Goring is no ordinary hotel.
The family-owned boutique property in Belgravia feels more like an aristocrat's London townhouse than a mere hotel.  The Duchess of Cambridge obviously thought so too when she spent her pre-wedding night in its top suite.

Add to this a hotel that has toy sheep in the rooms, giant Faberge eggs in its grounds (last Easter) or a Christmas tree made of designer brollies (last December)  and you'll see what I mean. Not ordinary at all.

horses and carriage goring
horses and carriage goring
bar goring
belgravia goring
bathroom goring
belgravia suite goring
the goring lobby

There is a lot of elegance here and the merest touch of eccentricity, which makes it the perfect venue for the home counties set at play. This is one of my favourite London hotels precisely because it is so, well, English. Then there is the service - which walks that fine line between friendly and making you too feel like a duke or duchess. If one had staff at home, one would want them to be exactly like this.
The rooms, it is true are not large  -  if size matters then book into another kind of five star altogether  - but they are perfectly dressed. Each individually created by some of Britain's leading designers, including Nina Campbell and Russell Sage. All have rich colours and wonderful silk wall paper, which brings me neatly back to those hats...
 
Isn't that a little unusual? Indeed, but then The Goring is no ordinary hotel.
The hats have been made to celebrate The Season. Anyone heading for the Pavillion at Lords or the royal enclosure at Ascot should have one. They have been created by milliner Gina Foster, 'Our hats tend to be traditional with a twist - just like The Goring'. She says.
Inspired by the gorgeous fabrics from the Gainsborough Silk Weaving Company that decorate the hotel walls, the hats are named after its rooms and suites. In the case of the Goring hat, it is the David Linley designed dining room with its pink Swarovski crystal chandeliers that added inspirational sparkle.
Foster says she also wants the hats to reflect 'the different sorts of people who stay in the hotel. Some are flamboyant, some are romantic, some like to be outrageous and some are more conservative...'

the goring collection by gina foster
the goring collection by gina foster
the goring collection
the goring collection by gina foster
the goring collection by gina foster (belgravia)
the goring collection by gina foster (victoria)
easter at the goring

What all those guests seem to have in common is a loyalty to the hotel. I'm not the only person who feels as if this is my private London residence, just count the cashmere and pearls at the popular afternoon tea and you'll see what I mean.  In the early evening it is the same story in the wood panelled bar where jovial types jostle for a leather chair or sofa. No empty echoing lobbies or sterile spaces here.
There is always a slightly celebratory feel about a stay at The Goring, enhanced by the fact that the hotel embraces festivities with gusto. For example, when I stayed in December the trendy trees in my Belgravia suite ensured a very stylish Christmas and the outside of the hotel glittered like a tiara.
The Goring family have owned the hotel since Otto Richard Goring opened it in 1910. It was the last hotel to be built in the reign of Edward the VII and the first in the world to have ensuite bathrooms.  Between Otto and the current CEO, the charismatic Jeremy Goring, there is over a hundred years of history. Lady Randolph Churchill lived here, Winston was a frequent visitor, model Jean Shrimpton caused a stir in the lobby in one of the first mini skirts and novelist Anthony Powell invented his heroine The Hon. Angela Goring for his A Dance to the Music of Time novels over tea at the hotel. The hotel has also been used as a virtual annexe to Buckingham Palace for visiting royalty during various weddings, coronations and christenings.
As I leave the hotel I'm not sure what to buy as a memento. A miniature version of the sheep found in each room is tempting  - but on reflection, I think I'd prefer a hat. Then I'll be ready for The Season. Pimms anyone?
 
Check in: 15 Beeston Pl, London SW1W 0JW, United Kingdom, +44 20 7396 9000
Key Count: 69 rooms and suites
Ultimate Luxury:  The Royal Suite (which has actually welcomed royals -unlike some other pretenders to the throne ...)
Most Indulgent Moment: P artaking of that award winning afternoon tea
Insider Secrets: CEO Jeremy is a keen surfer, often seen in Australia ... perhaps that explains the sheep
The Little Things: The Goring is the only hotel to be granted a Royal Warrant by Her Majesty The Queen. Quite a big thing really.
Junior Luxies: Welcomed. Kids will love the annual Easter egg hunt in The Goring garden, starting at 10.30am on Easter Sunday. Guests will be invited to search for the giant chocolate Easter egg which once found, will be broken by The Goring's Easter bunny, Hopkins
Dress code: Pearls never hurt (but only for the women)
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Hotels Link: www.thegoring.com
Hilary Doling 9/3/14
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