I LOVE a trip to London. There’s something about a visit to the capital that feels so special, so when I was invited to the Autumn/Winter Asda wine preview to sample some of their festive fizz, I decided to make a little mini trip out of it with an overnight stay at the gorgeous Capital Hotel, right in the heart of Knightsbridge.
I’m not the best map reader, and after standing outside Knightsbridge station, randomly twirling in circles trying to get Google maps to tell me which direction to walk in, I was rather embarrassed when I finally asked someone and they pointed up the road. You can practically see the hotel from the station and – even bigger surprise – it’s literally about ten steps from Harrods.
I was warmly welcomed and ended up having a chat with the doorman, lovely Graham, who took all my bags and ushered me inside, and then ended up having another chat with all the staff at the reception and showing them my new camera – it’s that kind of place, everyone is so friendly. The hotel is family owned and has been for over 40 years, which really gives it the friendly atmosphere that sets it apart from many hotels I’ve visited. When I booked (very last minute), the staff were worried about giving me a ‘small room’ and I assured them it was just me, and I don’t take up very much space. My room turned out to be really comfy and stylish, and not at all small – I’ve stayed in much smaller! – with sunlight streaming in through the window, a big, marshmallow soft bed and – hallelujah – modern plug sockets everywhere. There was also a really lovely marble bathroom with lots of delicious smelling goodies, and a proper hairdryer. I dumped my bags and set off to have a good look round.
The Capital has a lovely Sitting Room where you can book in to have afternoon tea (£29.50 per person, or £39.50 with a glass of Champagne, which I think is really good value in central London) with teas, coffees, sandwiches, scones and preserves, plus fresh pastries from the hotel’s own bakery. Yum.
Director of Sales and Marketing, Patricia, told me that they do a lovely ”girls’ weekend” (or mother/daughter weekend) which sounds like the perfect city break to me, and includes a double/twin room, along with afternoon tea for two, a Cosmopolitan cocktail and a £50 Harrods voucher as well as continental breakfast. The hotel also have lots of other special packages like long, lazy weekend breaks with late Sunday checkouts, and you can visit for things like cocktail and whisky masterclasses. There’s even the most incredible whisky and cheese tasting journey with Cesar, the hotel’s whisky sommelier (and the UK’s youngest Keeper of the Quaich) which costs a cool £1500 a person.
The hotel also boasts Michelin starred Outlaw’s at The Capital, giving Nathan Outlaw another string to his bow along with his 2 Michelin starred restaurant in Port Isaac, Cornwall. The restaurant interior is designed by Nina Campbell and champions simply prepared British seafood from Cornwall. I had a little sneaky peek inside and it looks lovely, really warm and intimate:
The hotel also own a chic bistro just next door: The Metro Bar and Bistro serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea in a chilled out atmosphere, with menu items such as fish and chips and a great wine list. The Metro also has a great happy hour on weekdays 5 and 7pm, when you can get wo glasses of house wine and a bowl of nachos for £8.00. Perfect for a post-shopping treat! Guests at The Capital can dine at The Metro and add their bill straight to their room too.
I didn’t stop long – a quick shower and liberal application of the above-mentioned smellies later, and I was off out to Carnaby Street to join Asda’s Master of Wine (and absolute sweetheart) Philippa Carr in a tasting session of Asda’s lovely fizz collection.
There can be no nicer sight than this one on an evening out:
Philippa is so approachable and not at all snobby about wine. She started by giving us a quick guide to tasting (and spitting, which I’m completely useless at, so I decided to just take a couple of sips of each wine then pour the rest away – so hard to do!). I won’t bore you with all the fizz we tasted, but I have to give special mention to a couple that were terrifically nice:
Extra Special Marques de Portola Vintage Cava 2013 – a delicious appley aroma, but not crisp, green apples – think sweet red, juicy apples. On tasting, it’s crisper, but still full of fruit.
Extra Special Louis Bernard Vintage Champagne 2007 – wow, this is a much more savoury nose – think marmite 0r maybe even mushrooms (honestly, my notes are ridiculous), but still with amazing fruit.
Next, my absolute fave: Extra Special Prosecco NV – fruity, with soft bubbles, more residual sugars making it slightly more drinkable, with the scent of apples and pears. YUM. This is what we’ll be drinking this Christmas.
But lastly, I think I’m going to surprise you with this one:
Extra Special Asti Spumante NV – okay, so it’s got a whopping 87g/l of residual sugar, but WOW, the smell is pure Muscat grapes. Philippa said that her Christmas present wrapping ritual involves a glass of this and some panettone and I could imagine it would be completely delicious. Not sweet, per se, just aromatic, soft and completely yummy.
After the fizz, we had the opportunity to explore the rest of the wine selection. I was particularly impressed with Asda’s Wine Atlas range – a collection of more unusual or lesser known wines – a great way to try something new and with fabulously retro labels too. I was particularly taken with the Wine Atlas Cotes de Roussillon 2014 – a 50% Grenache 30% Carignan, 20% Syrah blend with loads of fruit and the most amazing, nose-assaulting fruity bouquet. Flicking through Decanter’s World Wine Awards 2015, I noticed that quite a few of the Wine Atlas range received a commended too, along with that Extra Special Brut Prosecco.
What a wonderful break. Winter’s on its way, and if it’s going to be full of all this lovely warming red and festive fizz, I can’t wait!
Very many thanks to everyone at The Capital Hotel.