Tried & Tested

Hotel check: The Capital

20 Dec 2011 by Jenny Southan

WHAT’S IT LIKE? A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World (slh.com), this family owned five-star boutique property is warm, welcoming and brimming with English charm and elegance. Look out for the burgundy flag hanging from the front, and after checking in at the small ground-floor reception, a lift will take you up to the guest floors where bedrooms feature a mix of chintzy fabrics, velvet-upholstered armchairs and antique furniture.

Having opened in 1969, it is a well-established operation with top-class service, and a good choice for business travellers looking to try a high-end alternative to big chain hotels. Owner David Levin, who runs the Capital with his daughter Kate, also operates the Levin hotel (thelevinhotel.co.uk ) next door. 

WHERE IS IT? On Basil Street, which is a short walk from Knightsbridge tube station (on the Piccadilly line, which is handy for Heathrow airport), Harrods and Harvey Nichols department stores, and the new One Hyde Park development.

ROOM FACILTIES The size and décor of the guestrooms varies, but features that come as standard include beds with very comfortable hand-stitched mattresses and Egyptian cotton sheets, air conditioning, minibars, safes, robes, free wifi, 24-hour room service, marble bathrooms and flatscreen TVs that offer satellite channels, email and movies on-demand.

My Junior suite looked more contemporary than some of the other rooms, with a colour scheme that was soft and neutral. It had an open-plan living room and bedroom, and views down on to the street below. When I stayed, there was a good selection of magazines to flick through (always a plus, in my opinion) and a generous platter of fresh fruit. The bathroom was equipped with a combined shower and tub, and Khiel’s products. 

RESTAURANTS AND BARS The 34-seat Capital restaurant is a real lure. Serving a sumptuous buffet and à la carte breakfast from 7am to 10.30am, it also offers lunch (set menus from £24.50), afternoon tea and dinner. I ate here one evening and although it was very quiet (the two other tables were speaking in hushed voices), the ambiance was classy yet relaxed. 

Head chef Jerome Ponchelle specialises in beautifully presented creations, with items on the menu ranging from a starter of ravioli of duck foie gras, leeks and black truffle for £21 and hand-dived scallops with black pudding and celeriac puree for £19, to roast rack of lamb (£26) and medallion of fallow deer venison (£28). The wine menu is extensive, no doubt thanks to Levin also being a wine producer himself (levinwines.com), with vineyards in France’s Bourré Val du Cher, Oisly and Choissy.

A six-course tasting menu is available for £70 (or £120 with matched wines), and although there weren’t any vegetarian main courses when I ate there, the kitchen was able to cater for me without problem. I particularly enjoyed the starter of vegetarian symphony salad with truffle dressing for £16 and the dessert of caramelised pineapple, vanilla crème brulée and hibiscus sorbet (£12). The adjacent Capital bar is open from 11am until 12am, with food served from 12pm to 11pm. 

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES There are three event spaces available for hire that are ideal for intimate get-togethers. The first-floor Cadogan suite and revamped Eaton suite can accommodate 30 guests for a reception in each, while the ground-floor Sitting room can seat 12 delegates for a dinner party. The Capital also hosts a range of master classes throughout the year, with options including cocktail making, jewellery appreciation, and whisky tastings (unusually) paired with cheese.

LEISURE FACILTIES Guests can buy a £10 daily pass to the off-site Peak health club and spa (book in advance), while the surrounding area offers excellent shopping.  

VERDICT The Capital is a refined, boutique, English property with excellent service and on-site dining. Even though it is close to the hubbub of Knightsbridge, the residential street it is located on is peaceful. An attractive alternative to impersonal chain hotels.

FACT FILE:

HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 50 bedrooms including seven Deluxe doubles, eight Junior suites, one two-bedroom suite, and a mix of Classic singles and doubles. Next door, there are eight Capital apartments for long-term stays.

ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The free wifi, good selection of magazines, comfortable bed and modern bathroom.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in February started from £240 for a Classic double room. 

CONTACT The Capital, 22-24 Basil St, Knightsbridge; tel +44 (0)20 7589 5171; capitalhotel.co.uk

Jenny Southan

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