A five-star, family-run hotel with a personal approach to hospitality at its heart
Great British hospitality has been a passion of David Levin’s since he started his career at the Malmaison Restaurant in Glasgow in the ’50s. After stints in Scotland and Paris, his first pioneering move was opening the very first ‘gastro’ pub, The Royal Oak, in Yattendon, Berkshire in 1965, with just seven bedrooms. The second was The Capital.
Levin’s ambition had always been to create his very own ‘grand hotel in miniature’. In 1971, most hotels were being built with 400 rooms plus, Levin decided to open The Capital with just 49. He was ahead of the curve in the trend for intimate hotels offering five-star service.
And, while it seems you can rarely find a luxury hotel in London without a fine dining restaurant these days, Levin was the very first to do so, with the kitchen under the direction of Richard Shepherd. By 1974, The Capital was one of only four restaurant hotels to be awarded a Michelin star in the very first guide.
Since then, an impressive roster of chefs have launched their careers at The Capital, including Eric Chavot, Brian Turner, Paul Merrett and Gary Rhodes. Now, under the direction of Nathan Outlaw, Outlaw’s at The Capital is one of the most acclaimed seafood restaurants in the UK.
At The Capital, there is nothing more reassuring than the service and sense of place that you get swept up in on arrival. In fact, it’s the only five-star, family-run boutique hotel in central London where the original owner still lives on the premises, and there is always one member of the family on hand in the front hall to greet guests with a heartfelt welcome.
Not one to cower to the increasingly faceless, digitalised and impersonal approach to business today, Levin remains passionate and enthusiastic about the future. Keeping it in the family, his daughter Kate is the General Manager. With an eye for detail as alert and critical as her father’s, the hotel remains a bastion of British style and genuine hospitality.
The Capital Group also includes the 12-bedroom town house hotel, The Levin, along with a Knightsbridge local dining favourite, The Metro. The Levins also produce award-winning Levin wine from their own vineyard in the Loire Valley, and supply some of London’s most exclusive hotels and restaurants with artisan bread from The London Bakery.
This high level of care and intimacy explains the fierce loyalty of both staff and guests alike and why Levin recently and deservedly received an MBE for his contribution to the industry and youth training. Currently 14 members of staff have completed 250 years’ service between them and they have a repeat business of 60 per cent, with a high proportion of UK guests. At a time when the onus in the travel industry is on adventure, exploration and variety, this is particularly impressive.
Refreshingly, the interiors at The Capital remain loyal to its heritage, not pandering to the tastes of the international set, shunning the trend for a homogenised, global look in favour of something altogether a little more English.
The use of antiques and the family’s collection of art, heritage fabrics from acclaimed British designers, such as Nina Campbell, and more contemporary detail from William Yeoward, has really 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