JC Stays: The Levin hotel, London

Old world style and one of London's best locations for shoppers - our writer checks in


This is one boutique hotel you choose for its location. On exclusive Basil Street, just around the corner from Knightsbridge station, you can be buying handbags in Harrods within five minutes of leaving your room.

The Levin is the daughter hotel of its next-door neighbour, the better-known The Capital, which, with its Michelin-starred restaurant Outlaw’s, was founded by the Scottish (and Jewish) hotelier David Levin MBE back in 1971.

Like a Jeffrey Archer hero, David worked his way up from commis waiter at a Glasgow hotel in the early 1950s (a job he took to the apparent disappointment of his middle-class parents) to his position today as consultant to the Warwick group of hotels and resorts, which this year bought The Capital and The Levin.

Today, David’s daughter Kate Levin, who grew up immersed in the hotel world, is the general manager of both. I’d been expecting a feminine, perhaps modern feel to The Levin as a result of being in the hands of a young woman, but I found the décor staunchly masculine - indeed, conservative and old-world.

But this is intentional. When it was launched in 2007 (taking over from previous brand L’Hotel, which David founded in the early 80s), The Levin was designed with a 1930s theme.

My room, reached up a narrow chandeliered staircase (I later discovered an old-fashioned lift with a metal grille you open yourself, like in a Parisian pension) was decorated in grey and brown, a bowl of ripe bananas and apples waiting on the coffee table next to the empty grate of a traditional fireplace.

The bed seemed maybe a little saggy, and the toilet just a little creaky, but everything was clean, and the bath was delightfully deep with plenty of hot water and perfectly good toiletries.

In the morning, breakfast in the basement dining room (called the Knightsbridge Metro) was served by a thoughtful waitress keen to make sure everything was just right. The dining room is also open for informal lunches with classic British dishes such as fish and chips on the menu.

There is something quaint and charming about The Levin – reminiscent of taking rooms in a discreet townhouse, perhaps in an Hercule Poirot story.

And given its tranquil calm, intimate size of just 12 rooms along with that superb shopping location, it's no wonder it has a loyal clientele.

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