Saturday, 13 April 2013

A very smart London address

You might remember veteran British hotelier David Levin, who recently created something of a stir when he criticised service standards in Australian hotels, suggested large hotel groups were losing their way and that Australian chefs often over-complicate matters. Most readers of Fairfax newspapers happened to agree with him.

Levin owns both the Capital Hotel and Apartments and the nearby Levin Hotel in London's terribly trendy Knightsbridge (and has his own winery in the Loire Valley). It just so happens that several leading Australian winemakers regularly stay at his hostelries.

I  joined the guests at the Capital last weekend - and it was a memorable visit for all the right reasons after a couple of less-than-stellar experiences earlier in the week. A liveried doorman collected my bags from the taxi and two staff members said: "Good afternoon Mr Dobbin", as I walked into the reception area. That is personalised service for you! I'd never set foot in the place before.

Opened by Levin in 1971 and now managed by his daughter Kate; the Capital is a quintessential family-run luxury boutique hotel. The guest comes first here, and nothing is too much trouble. If you want kippers for breakfast, or a 3am wake up call, it just happens. 




The rooms in this "grand hotel in miniature" are classic; elegant and comfortable but with all modern comforts like Sky TV and free wifi. It's the style of place where afternoon tea is served and fine whiskies are on offer in the bar.   

There is also an excellent on-site restaurant; Outlaws at the Capital, run by two Michelin-hatted chef Nathan Outlaw and specialising in fresh-caught, simple but satisfying Cornish seafood like cod (pictured), hake or turbot.  A two-course lunch costs £20, three courses £25. Dinner is more expensive but the service is excellent. I paired dinner with a bottle of complex Levin Sauvignon Blanc.  

Outlaws at the Capital picked up its first Michelin hat in September 2013.  



   
In addition to the stylish service and attention to detail, the Capital has position, position, position. Harrods and Harvey Nichols are just around the corner and Knightsbridge tube station is 100 metres away.

Online rates start from around £175 ($270) per night (I checked on April 14) - which is remarkably good value considering the levels of service on offer, and what you might get for a similar amount in Australia.

The Capital, 22-24 Basil Street, Knightsbridge, London SW3. Phone: +44 20 7589 5171. www.capitalhotel.co.uk. 

The writer was a guest of the Capital Hotel, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

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