David Morgan-Hewitt of The Goring talks to 5ive Star London!
What’s your story?
I read Law and History at Durham University, but I always wanted to be a hotelier. I started on the Food & Beverage side and came to The Goring 24 years ago as the Restaurant Manager. Speaking for myself, if you talk to a lot of people in hotel senior management, they have always wanted to be hoteliers; they are not there by accident. They are obsessed with hotels!
The Goring is a very unique hotel in that at a five star level it is still owned and run by the family that built it. When you have the fourth generation of the founding family member who paid for the bricks to be put on top of one another, it makes a wonderful story. Unique is a word that is overused, but this hotel is truly original in London as being run by Jeremy Goring.
What is it about hotels that fascinates you?
People, service and luxury. It is a wonderful thing to exist in a luxurious environment; our bedrooms cost over £100,000 to be refurbished. I love being surrounded by excellence, not just in design and décor but amongst our staff. We have 170 staff working in a hotel that has just 69 rooms and suites, including our Royal Suite, which is why we have such attentive and personal service. The Goring family are obsessed with service and our guests. A lot of hotels will say they are about service but that is one thing they lack. Furthermore, hotels need a personality – the heart and soul of a hotel is created by history, by the people on the ground floor and how they interact with the guest and staff. That is what makes you come back to a hotel.
What do you think is most important to your hotel guests?
Aside from great service, people want more authenticity -and we are a very English hotel. Our food is very English and we celebrate English craftsmanship. The Goring really is all about the very best Britain has to offer. It belongs to London.
We have long lists of what people like and don’t like. We try to find out as much as we can about their preferences. The more we find out, the more we can personalise the stay. We want them to feel like they are somewhere where they are recognised! For instance, people love it when Brian, our Bar & Lounge Manager remembers their favourite drink.
What has kept you here?
The obsession with true hospitality. There are a lot ofhotels that are run along very harsh commercial lines. The main thrust of this hotel is hospitality. We take the main challenges of the market place, butwhere we are different is the obsession with service and hospitality. We must never forget who we actually are. We are inn keepers.
If you go back 500 years, the concept of hospitality was straightforward. People who keep travelling and can’t go home would end up at an inn. They come to the front door and need somewhere to stay and feel like home.
We try to be the traditional inn. No matter how much gold leaf or silk a hotel has, the reality is you are saying to someone: “Come on in and we will give a bed to sleep. We will give you some food and tie up your horse.” Sometimes we get carried away with the beauty and glamour, but comfort and the feeling of being home is a very important and cherished feeling.
What changes have you seen since you’ve been Managing Director of The Goring over the past 8 years?
We have completely refurbished the whole hotel in the past 8 years. We wanted to make sure that we had a strong competitive offering and were up to date with the 21st century guest needs - ensuring that we have the latest technology in place. However, we made a decision not to become contemporary; the traditional style of the building has been maintained. Today people adore the sets of Downtown Abbey and the traditional British culture. Alot of hotels who are contemporary have started to look very similar!
How would you describe the food?
The food at the Goring is a celebration of British produce.We have very traditional dishes such as beef Wellington and a carving trolleyevery day. We also have dishes like the Scottish Lobster Omelette and the Mother Queen’s favourite, the Eggs Drumkilbo. The food is about creating and serving British food at its best. For dessert, I thoroughly recommend the lemon surprise – once it’s smashed open it releases an indulgent lava of passion fruit and chocolate.
What is your advice to a first time visitor to London?
The Ceremonial history of London and the Royal Family is what Britain is best known for. The Queen’s Gallery is amazing. It is a must! People should take advantage of our location and visit The Royal Mews and to see the Changing of the Guard. Especially on a first visit to London, it really shouldn’t be missed.
What do you feel guests enjoy the most about The Goring?
The staff and people are what make our guests want to come back. They feel looked after and cared about; it becomes their home away from home.
Publication Date: 20/12/2014 12:12:43