In the heart of Belgravia lies a taste of the countryside, as Catherine Courtenay discovers when she visits The Goring hotel.

I may be sat in the lounge of a five star hotel in central London but, it seems, Devon is not far away.

The West Country is held in great affection by the owners of The Goring, the hotel in the heart of Belgravia which you may remember became famous for hosting Kate Middleton on the night before her wedding.

Previous guests have commented on how The Goring, which is situated in a quiet street, just a skip away from Buckingham Palace, feels like a country hotel. It’s long been a favourite of the Royal Household and was indeed frequented by our former Queen.

How do you cope when the Queen announces a visit? With a smile, general manager Michael Voigt tells me it involves some polishing to make sure all is spick and span, but the staff take it in their stride. They’re used to it; and I can’t imagine that much fazes anyone here. Everything appears to flow to perfection - from the moment you walk through the door. Yet there is also room for a homely, personal touch, and huge sense of fun. Where else would you find a Shetland pony coming to stay as a guest for two weeks?

Great British Life: Teddy the Shetland pony is greeted by the footmenTeddy the Shetland pony is greeted by the footmen

Yes really. The Goring has hosted Teddy the Instagram star. This gorgeous little chap (who belongs to a family member) had his own specially-built stable in the hotel garden, where he’d entertain fellow guests who’d offer him carrots in return for cuddles.

The garden is a beautiful, walled retreat. Its superb borders are filled with Highgrove-inspired plants and little nature quotes from King Charles are dotted around. When we arrive it’s afternoon tea-time and that lovely summer sound flows across the lawn, the hum of chatter as tea-takers enjoy the hotel’s hospitality.

Our suite sits one floor above and has a truly beautiful terrace balcony, a spacious plant-filled paradise with views across the garden. The scent of jasmine, lavender, lemon balm and sage, fills the air as we sit drinking champagne.

The Goring is the only hotel in the world to hold a Royal Warrant. It’s also unique in being the only luxury hotel in London owned and run by the family who built it – currently fourth generation Jeremy Goring.

Great British Life: The hotel was built by the Goring family in 1910. Photo: David CotsworthThe hotel was built by the Goring family in 1910. Photo: David Cotsworth

So, there’s a huge sense of tradition, old photos and family tales can be found on the walls, but it’s certainly not stuck in the past. There’s a real buzz about this place that is proud to offer a combination of classic luxury, and sophistication with attention to detail. Antiques and plaster work adorn the cocktail bar and the walls in the front hall are covered in elaborate hand-painted wallpaper, which highlights fun nods to the family history. Fabrics and furnishings include Gainsbourgh Silks wall coverings in the bedrooms – all unique to each room and based on historic patterns. The one in our room was used on the Titanic, others have designs from rooms in Buckingham Palace.

The Goring entertains royalty, but the staff (many of whom are long-standing employees) are so warm and friendly. From the greeting at the door to the handwritten notes and playful touches from housekeeping (Barbara the sheep – I'll come to her shortly).

The restaurant, run by executive head chef Graham Squire, has held a Michelin star for seven years. Needless to say, a meal in the dining room is an occasion, but a relaxed and restful one. Dishes focus on produce sourced from British coastline and landscape, including Orkney scallops, Cornish mackerel, Cotswold chicken and Somerset cheeses.

Great British Life: A suite at The GoringA suite at The Goring

The superb fish dish was halibut with a native lobster-filled dumpling, a lobster bisque and dusting of fennel pollen. The vegetarian roasted cauliflower option looked stunning on the plate and, accompanied by pear, walnut and shaves of truffle, it was full of intense flavours.

Desserts included a divine single origin chocolate cremeux, but other options included a classic rum baba or a tempting lemon sorbet float served with champagne.

So back to that West Country connection – and Barbara the sheep. The Goring family hail from Cornwall and while visiting Devon Jeremy’s father, George, was given a wooden, fleece-covered lifesize sheep. He brought it to The Goring where guests kept commenting on it. So much so, that it became a hotel mascot. Now, little toy sheep can be found in the bedrooms, strategically placed by housekeeping. When we retired to our room following dinner, we found Baa-bara propped up on a pillow with the TV remote.

It’s a thoughtful and fun touch, one that children (who are made very welcome here) particularly love – and it perfectly demonstrates what makes The Goring so special.

2023 room rates start at £710 for a Superior Room per night, with breakfast.

Mention Devon Life when you book and get a bottle of champagne in your room.