When David Levin opened The Capital in 1971, it seemed daringly moderne for its surroundings. Genteel Basil Street, between Knightsbridge and Harrods, had never seen the likes of the silver-spaceship foyer and the bold canopy proclaiming in chrome letters London's first true boutique hotel.
But all that is gone now - except the repu-tation. Within a few years of opening, the Capital got recognition from Michelin, and it continues to make all the top award lists for the hotel and its eponymous fine restaurant.
I do miss the spaceship; it seems bizarre that while other hoteliers were busy updating, Mr Levin was tearing down his facade and replacing it with an Edwardian-style entrance complete with neo-classical pillars. Now the visitor has the impression of walking into one of London's grandest old hotels.
Some rooms are a little cramped and cluttered by today's standards, which is why the Capital is in the middle of a major refurb, though they are keeping the decor resolutely traditional. Oversized beds are standard, all the niceties of modern bathrooms are in place, and flat-screen TVs will soon be universal. Service is five-star and friendly under the direction of the second generation of Levins, in general manager Kate, and the bathrobes (waffle cotton lined with terry towelling) are London's most luxe.
While Louis chairs and modernist panelling make slightly strange partners in the intimate dining-room, the food cannot be faulted.
RATE: from £260 r/o
TEL: 020 7589 5171