In a quiet cut-through street between Harrods and Harvey Nichols lined by Victorian apartments with pretty boxes of flowers outside, the elegant façade of the Capital Hotel is as discreet and charming as its interiors and loyal staff.
It was founded in 1971 by David Levin, a pioneer of the boutique hotel market and innovator of the gastro pub – The Royal Oak, in Yattendon, Berkshire put him on the map. Today his passion continues through daughter Kate, who is the General Manager. Discerning international travellers coming to London look for that famed, great British hospitality and few places can still boast a true sense of place as much as The Capital, Knightsbridge.
The reassuring atmosphere and excellent service of a gentleman’s home sweeps guests up on arrival.
A true home from home, the hotel cleverly provides a mixture of individually designed rooms and suites – including the two-level Penthouse – along with residential apartments to cater for longer independent stays. Staff at The Capital exude a passion and enthusiasm that serve as a bastion against the increasingly faceless and impersonal style of many properties today. Their high level of care and intimacy explains the fierce loyalty of staff and guests alike; currently 14 members of staff have served 250 years between them and The Capital has a repeat business of 60 per cent, with a high proportion of British guests.
At a time when the travel industry is all about adventure, exploration and variety, this level of loyalty is particularly impressive, and goes to show that there is a real appetite for the true traditions of British hospitality. The Capital Hotel’s best-loved characters include Head Concierge Clive. After 28 years at The Capital and with an impressive memory for quirky requests, Clive still offers to outpace jogging guests around Hyde Park. Cesar da Silva started his career at the hotel aged 17 and is now one of Britain’s most respected whisky experts, becoming Britain’s Youngest Keeper of the Quaich in 2011 – an honour from the whisky industry.
An hour at the bar with Cesar on one of his ‘whisky and cheese tours’ is, for many an enthusiast, a magical experience, whatever their level of knowledge. Into the mix of great hospitality comes great food. An impressive roster of chefs have launched their careers at The Capital, including Éric Chavot, Brian Turner, Paul Merrett and Gary Rhodes.
Now, under the direction of Nathan Outlaw, Outlaw’s at The Capital is one of Britain’s most acclaimed seafood restaurants. Refreshingly, the interiors at The Capital remain loyal to its heritage: not pandering to the latest fads, the hotel shuns the trend for a homogenised, global look in favour of something altogether a little more English. The use of antiques, heritage fabrics from acclaimed British designers such as Nina Campbell, and more contemporary details from William Yeoward, have anchored the hotel with an assured sense of place, one that will no doubt keep customers returning for many years to come.
THE CAPITAL HOTEL BASIL STREET, KNIGHTSBRIDGE, LONDON SW3 1AT +44 (0)20 7589 5171