I spent an afternoon at Kate Middleton's favorite luxury hotel in London, and the dress code was so strict that my friend almost wasn't admitted inside

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I spent an afternoon at Kate Middleton's favorite luxury hotel in London, and the dress code was so strict that my friend almost wasn't admitted inside
  • I visited The Goring, a five-star hotel where Kate Middleton stayed before her wedding.
  • My friend and I were impressed by the friendly staff and beautiful decor in the hotel bar.
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The Goring is a luxury hotel in London that Kate Middleton stayed in the night before her royal wedding.

The Goring is a luxury hotel in London that Kate Middleton stayed in the night before her royal wedding.
Kate Middleton photographed before her royal wedding on April 29, 2011, left, and The Goring hotel, right.Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images, Mikhaila Friel/Insider

The Goring is a five-star luxury hotel in Belgravia, London, that has a long-standing connection to royalty. It has a royal warrant issued by the late Queen Elizabeth II and has been visited "by every reigning monarch and prime minister" since it first opened in 1910, a spokesperson previously told Insider via email.

The spokesperson added that the hotel was visited by Queen Elizabeth, and that Kate stayed in the hotel's penthouse suite the night before her royal wedding on April 29, 2011.

I visited the hotel during Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June.

I visited the hotel during Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June.
The entrance of The Goring hotel had signage reading "Thank You Your Majesty" for the Queen's Jubilee in June.Mikhaila Friel/Insider

I decided to visit the hotel in June, as I was in London for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations to mark Her Majesty's 70th anniversary on the British throne.

Immediately, I was struck by the exterior decor in honor of the Queen. There were several Union Jack flags and a sign in front of the entrance that read: "Thank You, Your Majesty."

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Although I didn't have a room, I knew from researching the hotel's website that the bar accepted walk-ins.

Although I didn't have a room, I knew from researching the hotel's website that the bar accepted walk-ins.
Guests enjoy drinks at The Goring hotel's bar area.Mikhaila Friel/Insider

I had also called The Goring in advance of my visit and was told that they were only accepting walk-ins, rather than reservations, at the hotel bar during the Jubilee weekend.

The staff member on the phone warned me that it might be difficult to get a table as London was going to be particularly busy during this time. So I was surprised that upon my arrival on the afternoon of Friday, June 3, I didn't have to wait for a table and was escorted to a table directly across from the bar by a staff member.

I was impressed by the bar's stunning decor and the excellent customer service.

I was impressed by the bar's stunning decor and the excellent customer service.
The bar area at The Goring hotel.Mikhaila Friel/Insider

The interior was beautifully designed, with sparkly chandeliers and cozy armchairs.

The staff were also lovely, and I was approached by a staff member and asked for my order rather than having to go to the bar myself — even though it was only a couple of feet away from my table. I was particularly impressed by this since table service isn't very common at bars in London.

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As I waited for a friend to arrive, I ordered a royal-themed cocktail called The Coronation Cup.

As I waited for a friend to arrive, I ordered a royal-themed cocktail called The Coronation Cup.
The Coronation Cup cocktail at The Goring.Mikhaila Friel/Insider

The drinks menu paid tribute to royalty and historical figures in the UK, with options including the Jubilee Fizz, the George VI, Victory Tea, and The Coronation Cup.

I ordered The Coronation Cup, which cost £19, or around $23. It contained gin, Dubonnet, pomegranate, rosebuds, plums, and electric bitters, according to the menu. Former royal chef Darren McGrady previously told Insider that gin and Dubonnet was the Queen's favorite drink.

I enjoyed the cocktail, though it had a very strong plum flavor that seemed to overpower all the other ingredients.

Later, I had to use the bathroom near the hotel lobby — it was immaculate.

Later, I had to use the bathroom near the hotel lobby — it was immaculate.
Mikhaila Friel in the bathroom at The Goring hotel.Mikhaila Friel/Insider

When I asked a member of bar staff to direct me to the bathroom, I was surprised that they didn't just give verbal directions — they escorted me to the door. I didn't know whether this was an indicator of their great service, or whether they were secretly worried I was going to wander off and find the suite Kate Middleton once stayed in.

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Like the rest of the hotel, the bathroom was beautifully decorated.

Like the rest of the hotel, the bathroom was beautifully decorated.
The ladies bathroom in The Goring.Mikhaila Friel/Insider

The bathroom was decorated elegantly, with butterfly-print wallpaper and several lamps, and towels were provided to wash your hands instead of paper.

I wasn't aware that there was a dress code before arriving at the hotel, and I soon learned that it was strictly smart casual.

I wasn't aware that there was a dress code before arriving at the hotel, and I soon learned that it was strictly smart casual.
Mikhaila Friel at The Goring Hotel in London.Mikhaila Friel/Insider

I wrongly didn't consider the possibility of there being a dress code before I arrived, most likely because I was visiting in the middle of the day. I had assumed that a dress code would be more likely to be implemented in the evening or at the hotel's restaurant, rather than at the bar.

I wore a strapless romper and sandals, and I wasn't given a second look when I walked through the door. However, my friend Pat said he almost wasn't allowed in because he was wearing shorts when he arrived.

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Pat and I were asked to move to the back of the room because he was wearing shorts.

Pat and I were asked to move to the back of the room because he was wearing shorts.
Mikhaila's friend, Pat, in The Goring bar.Mikhaila Friel/Insider

When Pat arrived at the hotel, I was already inside. He later told me that he was stopped at the hotel entrance by a staff member, who wouldn't let him inside and asked if he knew any of the guests. He told them that he was meeting me, and shortly after I was approached by a staff member who asked if I could confirm that I knew him.

When they finally let Pat inside, they asked us to move to a table at the back of the room because he was wearing shorts, which they said didn't align with the dress code. Although the experience was slightly embarrassing, I was just thankful that we weren't asked to leave.

After the visit, I asked a spokesperson to clarify what the dress code was and they said "smart casual," which is also noted on the website though there's no mention of shorts not being allowed. They did not immediately respond to Insider's request for further comment on the dress code.

Pat ordered a Victory Tea, a cocktail inspired by Winston Churchill.

Pat ordered a Victory Tea, a cocktail inspired by Winston Churchill.
The Victory Tea at The Goring.Mikhaila Friel/Insider

Pat ordered a Victory Tea, which cost £20, or around $24. The cocktail was warm, and it arrived in a teapot filled with steam alongside a teacup. The ingredients included gin, croft pink port infused with raspberries, italicus and jasmine cordial, green strawberry bitters, and a grapefruit tonic, according to the menu.

The cocktail was inspired by Winston Churchill, who visited The Goring weekly for afternoon tea with his mother-in-law, who resided at the hotel, the menu added.

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We had an amazing time, and learned an important lesson about dress codes along the way.

We had an amazing time, and learned an important lesson about dress codes along the way.
Mikhaila and Pat at The Goring.Mikhaila Friel/Insider

Our experience at The Goring was fantastic, from the flavorful cocktails and pretty decor to the delightful service. Not to mention, we felt that bit closer to royalty having spent time in a hotel favored by the new Princess of Wales.

Pat and I didn't hold a grudge about the dress code situation. After all, it's something we should have checked before we arrived. It taught us an important lesson, should we ever enter a royal establishment in the future.