Inside the Royal Wedding Hotel

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As if it were not already expected to be the wedding of the year now comes word that Prince William and Kate Middleton plan to take over London's exclusive Goring Hotel for their reception and to house their closest friends and family.

This just isn't any hotel. Roughly 400 yards from Buckingham Palace, the Goring is the de facto annex to the royal family's home. Members of the royal family, including the Queen and the late Queen Mother, have eaten at the hotel on many occasions. The hotel's pastry chefs even supplied the christening cake for the christening of Prince Charles in 1948. Princes William and Harry are said to often be found at the hotel for a drink or meal.

The owners of the Goring -- it has been owned by one family for four generations -- refused to comment for this story or any other about plans for a royal wedding. But word in London is that the prince and his fiancee have taken over the five-star hotel for their reception and its 71 rooms and suites for their out-of-town guests. (Rooms start at $550 and suites go for $1,350 a night.)

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All the rooms and suites are individually designed, many by British designers to create the atmosphere of a country house retreat with more than a touch of city sophistication.

The Goring is currently in its hundredth year of operation and in its time has played host to many historic events. During the First World War, the hotel became the command center for the chief of the allied forces.

When the Norwegian Crown Prince visited in 1937, he explained his fondness for the hotel: "At Buckingham Palace I have to share a bath with five people! Here I have one to myself."

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In fact, the Goring was the first hotel in the world to offer central heating and a bathroom for every bedroom. Royal guests still prefer to stay there, since the rooms are often more comfortable than those at Buckingham Palace. Many guests during the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II choose to stay at the hotel instead of the palace.

While nobody can say for sure what the royal wedding will bring, here are some other tidbits about the hotel:

Every prime minister since Winston Churchill has been a guest at the hotel.

About 60 percent of guests have stayed at the hotel before, with many having checked in more than 100 times. Many were introduced to the hotel by their parents or grandparents.

Sir Michael Redgrave spent the final months of his life at the Goring, Sir Anthony Hopkins held his wedding reception at the hotel and Russell Crowe marked the wake of Richard Harris by reciting a poem while standing on the bar.

Last year the readers of Conde Nast Traveler voted it the best hotel for service in Britain.

It was also named Top Hotel in Europe by Travel & Leisure Magazine in 2010.

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