West London is something of a new beast to me, restricted as it seems to be to diplomats, wealthy tourists and the cast of Made in Chelsea. And, hand on heart; I’d usually opt to stay in East London given a choice. But The Capital Hotel may just change my mind, given its fantastic location, scrumptious food and attentive service.
I’ve not even stepped foot in the traditional-looking building when a valet hovers by the door, greeting guests on their arrival. He affably helps me with my bags and helps get me checked in.
The hotel itself is delightfully traditional, although my companion stage whispers that its “a bit old fashioned” as we plonk our bags down in the room. We agree to disagree, I’m a fan of the décor, mainly because I usually can’t work any of the gadgets that come with uber-modern hotels, but also because it reminds me of somewhere Sherlock Holmes might bed down – all wooden cabinets and landscape paintings hanging on the walls.
The oldy-worldy feel continues throughout, with a small lift you could picture a brass-buttoned bellboy operating, and several serious-looking suited men having meetings in the restaurant. I imagine them to be discussing how to solve the mystery of the blue carbuncle or similar, so am rather disappointed when, on eavesdropping, I discover they are talking about whether or not to sign a contract.
Suited meetings aside, the clientele is made up of the young and fabulous – no doubt due to the hotel’s proximity to Harrods (a stone’s throw away. If there was ever an excuse to whip out the credit card, this is it).
Given that it’s also close to Hyde Park, the Serpentine, Green Park, and, if you really want to stretch your legs, St James Park, it would be easy enough to write The Capital Hotel off as simply being well-placed on the tourist trail, but it’s clear visitors are there for more than just the postcode. Staff are attentive, attention is paid to the smallest of details, and the traditional décor gives a cosy and snug feeling to the building, despite it not being particularly small.
If I could get away with holing up here for longer, people watching and breaking up the hours with the odd trip to Harrods food hall, I would. But, as that attentive valet helps me with my bags on the way out, I leave my newfound cosy nook and brave the rush hour crush back East.
Food and drink: If you’re planning on starting a diet, or entering into some kind of self-imposed alcohol avoidance plan, don’t bother doing so until after you eat here. The wonderful Michelin starred Outlaw’s restaurant is headed up here by superb TV chef Nathan Outlaw. As one of country’s greatest fish chefs, the emphasis here is, of course, on morsels from the sea, which both my companion and I opt for. Our meal naturally begins with a glass of champagne and some recommendations from the menu (food and wine). And in case you just can’t wait for your order to arrive, there are deliciously prepared nibbles to devour while you’re waiting. Starters of crab risotto and mackerel and octopus are exciting dishes to spot on the menu, while mains vary from monkfish to guinea fowl. We opt for a sumptuous desert tart to share, and were totally finished off by the delicious chocolates that came at the end of the meal.
Breakfast is the usual fare of cereal and fruit buffet, or cooked English breakfast – although if you manage the cooked breakfast after an evening dining at Outlaw’s, you’re stronger than me.
Price: Rooms from £315 per night.
Address: 22-24 Basil Street, Knightsbridge, London, SW3 1AT, www.capitalhotel.co.uk
Radio Times travel rating: 8.5/10
Radio Times was hosted by The Capital Hotel, all of our contributors maintain editorial independence at all times and conduct first-hand research.