The London hotel has been serving English royalty since its opening 105 years ago. Now it offers butlers to provide the same royal treatment to all guests.
This spring, The Goring reopened with more than just a structural facelift. Another major change: those staying in suites now have a dedicated footman for the duration of their stay (and, sometimes, beyond). Under the watchful eyes of a head concierge by the name Big John, the team of five footmen has gone through an incredibly rigorous training regimen—as the only hotel in the world with a royal seal of approval (in the form of a royal warrant), they have seen their share of VVIPs.
The Duchess of Cambridge was on hand for the hotel’s official re-opening, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see her pop by for a quick staycation with George and Charlotte. Here, a small sampling of what the team is trained to do:
1. Outsmart traffic rules
When many of London’s roads were closed during New Year’s Eve, the footmen hired rickshaw drivers to make sure guests could make their coveted dinner reservations on time. After all, cars weren’t allowed, but bikes were.
2. Save the wedding day
On one big morning, a groom-to-be came down to The Goring’s lobby in a panic—the bowties he’d purchased, unbeknownst to him, had to be self-tied, and neither the groom nor groomsmen knew how tie one. Luckily, the footmen have this important skill down pat.
3. Serve as personal courier
One guest once checked out of the hotel but left a bag—with passports— in the room. He had a one-night layover in Edinburgh before his flight, and since none of the regular courier services could get there in time, one footman took a sleeper train to Edinburgh, delivered the bag, and headed home on the next train.
4. Plan the ultimate surprise
For a splashy proposal, a guest planned a London Eye ride, complete with flash mob. The footmen upped the surprise factor with a bottle of champagne for the couple upon landing, as well as a chauffeur waiting to take them to their next destination.
5. Take care of Rover
Pets aren’t allowed in many London restaurants, but for guests who are unwilling to part with their dogs during the day, the footmen have happily entertained pets outside the restaurant for the duration of lunch.
6. Organize an impromptu picnic
On the rare days that London’s weather is perfect, it seems silly to sit inside a hotel restaurant. The footmen can arrange a spontaneous picnic in one of the royal parks, and serve a traditional English picnic (scotch eggs, pork pies, egg and watercress sandwiches) with champagne.
7. Iron your newspapers
Believe it or not, it used to be an old-school English tradition to have newspapers ironed before reading them. One guest, during England’s political season, asked that his pre-election newspaper was ironed before it was delivered to him. The footmen did it without blinking an eye.
8. Pull off a last-minute celebration
For a one-year-old’s birthday party, the footmen blew up balloons and completely decked out a top suite with decorations and toys. The best part: for the outdoor portion of the event, in the hotel’s garden, the footmen tracked down a Shetland pony.
Stephanie Wu is a senior editor at T+L. Follow her on Twitter at @stephwu.