Not being a native Londoner, there are few places in the city that feel like home. So seeking little pockets of the capital that evoke that warm, fuzzy feeling has become something of a habit, given how genuinely rare these are. The Capital, Knightsbridge’s much-loved, independently run 5-star hotel, is one of these sacred bubbles that mix token Knightsbridge refinement and that elusive homeliness that many a London hotel can only dream of.
From the moment the doorman whisks us across the threshold, we’re met with personable professionalism: impeccably well turned out staff pass the time of day, and we’re led through to a bijou little lounge area, that’s the perfect pitch of homely and refined. We start with a flute of perfectly chilled, smooth champagne, and select fine, loose leaf Jing teas that are regularly checked on to ensure they don’t require refreshing (it’s all in the detail, you know).
And to add to this charm that coaxes back a faithful following of regulars again and again, The Capital has earned its culinary stripes, with a Michelin star at its flagship restaurant, Outlaw’s at The Capital, headed up by seafood maestro, Nathan Outlaw. The Capital’s afternoon tea is known for its timelessness, its effortless elegance and above all, quality: a lot like the hotel itself.
The tea changes with the seasons, and from now until the end of the year, The Capital presents its Christmas-themed offering in all its festive glory. A layer of ruler-precision, pastel-hued sandwiches is brought to start: still crunchy-cool cucumber on matcha tea bread, lemon spiked cream cheese with smoked salmon on beetroot bread, egg mayonnaise, and turkey & cranberry. The spongy bread is hand-crafted in the in-house bakery, and pair of divinely light, fluffy scones – plain and fruit for both of us – mean there’s no need to choose between raisins or no.
There is no ‘main’ layer in afternoon tea: it wouldn’t be ‘tea’ without all 3 of them, but, in this case especially, the ‘cake’ layer is impossible not to be wowed by. Designed by Claire Clark, world-renowned pastry chef and BBC’s Creme de la Creme judge, these baked goods are so intricately crafted, they wouldn’t look out of place amongst the delicate, glass-blown Christmas decorations of the neighbouring green-hued department store.
Alongside a head-fizzing champagne jelly topped with redcurrants, we sampled a bejewelled green-meringue Christmas tree. A mighty-fine, egg-shell-crisp outer layer was tapped through to reveal a perfectly chewy swirl. When it seemed like things couldn’t get any cuter, a crisp and sweet Santa’s-belly macaron popped open to reveal a wintry pang of marmalade & panettone. But the star on the top of the stand was the mini snowman cheesecake: smooth and decadent with a thin base, and decorated with attention to detail right down to the little stitch mark on the top of his hat.
For lovers of this afternoon-time ritual, cake connoisseurs, and those looking for a London postcode with that homely feel you’d bottle up and sell if you could, The Capital is it. You can book their afternoon tea here, from now until December 31st.
Afternoon Tea at The Capital
22 Basil Street, Knightsbridge, London, SW3 1AT