Sipping on a cup of black tea at the Goring Hotel, I’m imagining I’m a little bit royal.
The new queen of hearts (not to mention style) Kate Middleton, aka Duchess Catherine of Cambridge, spent her last night as a spinster here at this boutique hotel in London’s Victoria and now here I am. Not that I can begin to understand her nerves or the pressures of performing in what would be the biggest day in her life, I’m too busy enjoying the crayfish mousse in a shot glass and the tiny salmon sandwich while eyeing up the next one – coronation chicken – before my friend eats it first.
The Middletons booked out this elegant and discrete family-run hotel for three days to get ready for the royal fanfare. And for some guests here today, the thought that Kate’s sister Pippa also got dressed here was probably enough to entice them in.
Four generations of the Goring family have run this fine hotel for over a century. This is the Queen’s second “guest house” when the palace is full and she has more dignitaries than she can handle. Mr Goring senior-senior, persuaded the Duke of Westminster to sell him the plot of land in 1910. He pulled down the cottages and the pub that was standing and built the last grand hotel of the Edwardian era.
You can stay in one of the 69 rooms if you have the budget, but for a touch of class without needing to be terribly classy the high tea is £42.50 (or £52.50 with a glass of Bollinger).
High tea is from 3pm to 4pm each afternoon (1pm to 4pm Saturdays) on the terrace overlooking the garden and in the sumptuous chairs in the lounge. The list of teas is extensive, and coffee is also on offer to accompany the absolutely stunning array of teeny sweets, savouries and warm scones with clotted cream that arrived on the three tier stand.
You’ll need to book in advance as it fills up quickly and the dress code is smart casual. That means don’t come in jeans and men can’t wear shorts, but you can leave your tiara behind.
It’s spendy, but about the same price as the Berkley (which I also tried) which is not a patch on the Goring!