Capital Hilton, 16th and K Styeets NW. 393-1000. About $11 including champagne.

THE fastest growing eating mode these days, if phone calls and waiting lines are fair indicators, is Sunday brunch. So for the next two weeks this column will lead you through what was a three-month tour of the intown hotels' Sunday brunches. After a proper period of recovery, I'll look into the non-hotel brunches.

Sunday brunches and hotels are natural companions, for there is no better way to cater to the lassitude of vacation than over eggs and champagne at noon. It is, of course, all the more delicious to eat Sunday brunch at a hotel where you are spending the entire weekend. But if brunch is all you can manage as a getaway, so be it.

This week we examine the grand buffets, next week the table service versions and a roundup of lesser buffets. As you read, be warned that Sunday brunch is an invention of the devil, preparing you for nothing but an afternoon of recovering from its excess and an evening of recovering from recovering.

For sheer comfort, you can't beat Twigs -- whether comfort means to you a soft cocoa-colored banquette or a deeply cushioned sofa pulled up to Parsons tables. If you like dining on cloth-covered tables, Twigs has them; if you prefer glass tops with lacy placemats over driftwood, they are at Twigs. The overall impact is one of spaciousness and delicacy. The waiter pours champagne. And more champagne, and the generosity compensates for its lack of chill.

Details -- who cares about details in full view of ice sculptures inset with flowers? If the smoked salmon is mushy, at least it is gilded with a geometric accompaniment of cream cheese and capers and egg. One side of the buffet wonderland is a cooling array of salads -- whole mushrooms with artichoke hearts and pimiento, avocado and onion, freshest and ripest of fruits tossed together. The breads are a proud assortment of very good croissants, tiny brioches, toasted bagels, to be slathered with butter rosettes. Even on the hot table, some dishes stand out -- as they rarely seem to do in brunch buffets. Creamed chicken exhibits character, and scrambled eggs have preserved their creaminess. Among the Eden of desserts, one finds decent eclairs, a tureen of rather good chocolate mousse, gallons of real whipped cream with strawberries as an excuse for it, even unexpectedly buttery fruit tarts among the come-hither flourishes of cakes. Wading through Twigs' dross, one finds plenty of gold.