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London's royal hotels: The Goring and The Ritz

Thursday, April 28, 2011
It's a tradition that the bride and groom don't see one another on the eve of their wedding, and to make sure Prince William and Kate Middleton don't cross paths, Kate and her family will spend the night at the Goring Hotel.

Catriona Rowntree, our royal watcher, had the chance to check it out.

*Get up-to-date royal wedding coverage from Channel Nine News here!

The Goring Hotel is London's only family-run five-star hotel. It was opened in 1910 by Otto Richard Goring and in its centennial year was named Best City Hotel in the world.

It's discretely tucked away in Beeston Place just two minutes from Victoria Station. It has back doors and laneways, and the carriage entrance to Buckingham Palace is close by. If any of the royals fancy a night out, they can pop in the back door without being noticed. Discretion is high on The Goring's menu. They're even known to accommodate visitors there.

Catriona was invited to take tea with managing director David Morgan-Hewitt. He is very aware of the difference between traditional and old-fashioned. Traditional is good and they truly believe the customer is always right.

High tea is served every afternoon and for something stronger, there's a cosy bar. One fun tradition is the Goring sheep. It all began with Barbara, a beautiful, carved wooden animal, clad in snowy-white fleece. Barbara was placed in the bar and was such a hit, there is now one in every bedroom and a soft toy sheep on every bed. What began as fun was a very good PR move. Anywhere in the world the Gorings go, people mention the sheep!

If the rumour is true and the Middleton family has booked all 71 elegant rooms, they will each have a little lamb for company.

While he was guarded about what he said, he told Catriona he and the staff miss the visits of the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. She was charming and was friendly with everyone. Her smile lit up a room and she always remembered to thank anyone who had looked after her.

Star spotting at The Goring isn't just about the royals. Liz Hurley and Elle Macpherson turned heads when they popped in together.

The award-winning dining room was designed by the Queen's nephew, Viscount Linley. Good old-fashioned English food is well and truly back in fashion, and that's what they serve. David Morgan-Hewitt says English food doesn't deserve the bad reputation. They really do have superb ingredients and their beef comes from the Castle of May, the private home of the late Queen Mother.

One of their special dishes was the Queen Mother's favourite and it's a bit of a secret. Eggs Drumkilbo was often served at her luncheons and featured at the wedding breakfasts of Princess Anne and Prince Andrew at their weddings.

It's named after an ancient estate in Perthshire, Scotland, and it's pretty much made with leftovers. Catriona's version had eggs, mayonnaise, tomato, shrimp with lobster and her manners stopped her from asking for seconds.

The Ritz London

The swanky hotel is the only one to have been awarded a royal warrant by the Prince of Wales. Many of the 1900 invited wedding guests have chosen to stay there, and the hotel's self-description probably sums it up in a nutshell.

"For over a century The Ritz has been the benchmark by which other hotels are measured," the hotel says. "A London landmark at 150 Piccadilly, The Ritz has been home to the great and the good, the intelligentsia, the glitterati and thousands of discerning guests since 1906."

It would be hard to top that!

Queen Elizabeth chose The Ritz as the venue to celebrate her 80th birthday and golden jubilee, so it really does have the seal of approval from the top.

Afternoon tea is served in the Palm Court every day. If you prefer, there's always a choice of French Champagne.

Wanna join the fun?

If you're planning a holiday to the UK, looking for hotels and accommodation in Britain, or simply after UK travel, attractions or events information, VisitBritain.com has everything you need to know.

Location

The centre of London.

Cost

The Goring Hotel rooms start at $416 a night.

The Ritz London rooms start at $766. Afternoon tea starts at $62.

Emirates has flights to London and 28 other destinations in Europe, via Dubai, from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. To receive an exclusive Getaway viewers' discount, visit www.emirates.com/getaway.

Prices correct at April 28, 2011.

For further information

Emirates
Ph: 1300 303 777
www.emirates.com/getaway

The Goring Hotel
15 Beeston Place
London, SW1W 0JW
United Kingdom
Ph: +44 20 7396 9000
www.thegoring.com
reception@thegoring.com

The Ritz London
150 Piccadilly
London, W1J 9BR
United Kingdom
Ph: +44 20 7493 8181
Fax: +44 20 7493 2687
www.theritzlondon.com
enquire@theritzlondon.com

Visa: Visas are not required for Australians entering the UK for tourism for stays of less than six months. If you wish to work, you must obtain the appropriate two-year visa in advance.

Electricity: 220V with a three-point plug.

Time: GMT.

Currency: The British pound sterling.

International dialling code: +44.

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