Kate Levin, daughter of The Capital Group founders David and Margaret Levin, joined family hotel The Capital in Knightsbridge as general manager in October last year, but having grown up at the hotel designed and built by her parents she sees the move more as a return home.
How I got here:
My family was based here at the hotel for a long time and I went to school close by, so I spent pretty much all my time here as a young girl, getting in all the staffs way. They’ve all seen me grow up through everything; I opened my GCSE results in the kitchen here.
After school I had a moment of rebellion and went to work for Third Space health and fitness club in Soho, ending up as a duty manager. But it dawned on me that working there was still like being in the hospitality industry. So when I’d been there two and a half years I came to The Capital and I was here for 10 days before I was sent to cover a staff absence at the BAFTA private members club on Piccadilly. What was supposed to be a short period of cover turned into years of work. So really coming back to the hotel now is just repeating what I started six years ago.
Growing up in a hotel has helped me in my career enormously. I’ve seen a lot and heard it all and I now have the most amazing support because whenever I have a question I have my family to turn to who all have the answers as they’ve been in industry for long time now.
What I like about my job:
It’s the bedroom bits I particularly enjoy and having people to stay – I find it easier than managing a restaurant. It’s a totally different person that can be a successful restaurateur than a hotelier and I feel more confident about making people comfortable and relaxed at the hotel. You’ve got longer to do that while a meal is something so short. I take great pleasure in the hotel. I love the building. I love the bedrooms, it’s like having friends stay round and being proud of where you’re putting them to sleep. It’s nice to make them feel welcome and comfortable.
Having grown up in the hotel adds a certain complication when it comes to managing staff because I’ve known them all for so long, but they’ve helped me out a lot as well. The staff like the fact the hotel is staying within the family as it adds a lot of job security for them. I hope they are pleased to see me in the business. I’ve worked for the Capital Group for a long time, so hopefully they think I’ve earned my stripes, albeit elsewhere in the business. It does make it awkward sometimes though, they must just think back on me being five years old.
The most valuable thing I’ve learned:
My dad, who has been a hotelier for so long, always keeps reminding me that hotels should be as simple as possible. They are comfortable beds, hot showers and a smile when you walk in, and everything else is periphery to that.
My mother, who’s the managing director of The Gaucho Club, taught me that service is the most important bit of it all. We have a brilliant front of house team here and guests relax as soon as they come into the hotel. You just want to make sure everyone relaxes as quickly as possible as it’s escapism for some people. It’s nice they can come and forget about everything for the time being and let us look after them. That’s the nice bit.
My biggest regret:
I wish I’d got started in hotels straight away. It was good to get time out and away from the family business, but because I was at BAFTA for so long I feel I missed out on having more hotel experience early on. But I hope all the different jobs I’ve done have added up to quite good experience in different areas. I’m still quite young in my career so I’m sure there are still mistakes to come.
I’m here and very happy for the time being. The ultimate dream would be to have my own hotel some day, but I’m not going anywhere for some time yet.