Knightsbridge, window-boxes and Capital charms: a London hotel

Harrods. For some, the dark green and gold cascades cement their image of London.  From dawn until dusk, the hoards gather to bask in the glow of this iconic landmark, where harmonious Knightsbridge streets, visions of red brick, mellow mews’ and sleepy, (albeit, impeccably maintained) window-boxes, form her hinterland.

And this is where The Capital resides.  Hidden behind the brash of Sloane Street,  and the traffic of the Brompton Road; Basil Street quietly winds into the heart of Knightsbridge.

Capital exterior

Devoid of the ostentatious, the forward and the self-imposing, The Capital chortles with old English, red-brick charm.  The doormen were impeccably presented, effervescent with gentlemanly manners, and quick to unburden the bag from my arms.  With resplendent flags, dancing in the early evening light, it was all rather chummy.  They asked for my name, and remembered it for the duration of my stay.

I’m a bit of an old softie when it comes to heritage hideaways, and whilst The Capital only boasts 40 years to her name, falling short of the centuries bequeathed to some of her historic London peers, her ambience, approach and attitude indulge the traditional; exactly what you yearn for in this beautifully befuddled, part of town.

That said (and abruptly so), quaint and charming though Knightsbridge is, this is where the jet-setting playboys hang.  The ubiquitous super-cars line the curbs, where rich sultans from the Emirates come to frolic in the summer, parading the streets in their neon Alfa Romeos, Jaguars and Ferraris.  Residents pay with wads of banknotes here.  The hotel staff, remain unflinching.

The Capital, hosts a private clientele, some with designer motors, some without.  A ‘family-run’ boutique, this is an understated affair, maintaining a traditional brand of good, old, English service.  Don’t be fooled by the modest interior however, this is one of London’s über-hotels, where every whim is serviced, no eye-brows ever raised, and where the hair-dryer is even elegantly tied with a red ribbon bow.  My deluxe double was priced at a mere £528 a night.

My room was a vision in blue and white chintz.  A heavy oak four-poster filled the corner.  Facing onto the street, the noise of the road evaporated into a serene, warm and calm (and for London – enormous) abode.  You certainly cannot accuse the rooms of being modern, but I’m a sucker for heavy, classic and expensive furnishings.  I could have been in a bedroom at Highclere Castle; a rather enjoyable flash of the imagination.

Capital suite

And this is a hotel with real keys.  Heavy, wooden blocks of a key.  Depositing its heavy weight with reception on your way out, was a comforting, personalised accoutrement.

Hotel guests are eligible to use the gym, spa and swimming facilities at the nearby Jumeirah Carlton Hotel; a very different kind of hotel.  A brisk 5 minute walk from The Capital, the facilities are well worth a visit, the view alone (across the chimney-pots of London), is a great back-drop for a run.

Breakfast is held in the downstairs restaurant, where attentive waiters deliver porridge and eggs to the table.  The buffet is kept to the minimum here, and the full English is absolutely encouraged.  There is limited ‘wow’ factor here, which I found surprisingly pleasing, as whilst the ‘display’ was unusually depleted, your personal, tailored options were endless: “eggs, which way madam?”

Capital restaurant

However, with rack rates hitting the most exclusive of tiers, those seeking a hedonistic hotel experience, should look elsewhere.  There is no Bang & Olufson to your buck here, but, the Capital does not aspire to such thrill seekers.  Her clients are the well-heeled, the understated, the (dare I say it) blasé.  A haven for the very wealthy indeed, the Capital provides a subtle and sincere home from home.

As I pottered in, after supper in Chelsea, the streets were humming with the evening social traffic, the occasional roar of an engine, and diners frequenting street-side cafes enjoying the balmy summer evening.  Skipping up the stairs and into my rather glorious bedroom, I was afforded a fleeting glimpse into a very different world: comfortable, safe, undisturbed and central.

And that is when this wonderful, terribly English hotel fell completely into place. Capital?  You bet.

The Capital is a member of Great Hotels of the World Luxury Collection.

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