Story by Norma Davidoff
Photos courtesy Corinthia Hotel Budapest

Corinthia Hotel Budapest Facade

Corinthia Hotel Budapest
Erzsébet krt. 43-49
1073 Budapest, Hungary
www.corinthiahotels.com

Fantasy Comes True
at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest

Loved the feature film, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”?  I just “lived it”.  The  Corinthia, formerly known as the Royal is indeed grand and was the model for the hotel in the film. But it is smack in the middle of the city,  not in the countryside, as depicted. We were just a few blocks from  bustling Andrássy Út (Avenue), a main thoroughfare. We were in walking  distance of the Liszt Academy of Music, which has been exquisitely  restored to its art nouveau green marble grandeur.  Even if you don”t  take in a concert, you can enjoy the photo exhibit of its history. The  Corinthia is also near the Jewish quarter and its famed Dohany  Synagogue, the largest in Europe.

The Lobby at Corinthia Hotel Budapest

But back to the “real” Budapest Hotel. Smartly updated, it still retains an Old World turn-of the century ambiance. Its marble floors and pillars,  elaborate chandeliers, and rich furnishings impart a contemporary feel. Instead of the goofy, idiosyncratic service people in the film --  porters, bellman, concierges, desk clerks -- the real ones at the  Corinthia are top-notch pros, looking to make you very happy at this  atmospheric hotel.

Here’s one example of good service. I was ill, requiring a house call by a  physician pronto. The concierge had a doctor at the hotel within an  hour. He kept abreast of the situation. That evening, Laszlo Jarmay,  Duty Manager, called to check on my condition. He said they always  follow up when a doctor is called to the hotel. The next day, when I  needed to go to a clinic, the concierge again took charge, made all the  arrangements, and guided us through on how to get there.

Corinthia Budapest Atrium

That was only one example of the many gracious and effective staffers at  this grand hotel. The wait staff is solicitous but not cloying. The  hotel’s main restaurant, the Brasserie, is in a stone white courtyard  seems both intimate and elegant at the same time. This restaurant  offers delicate Hungarian cuisine as well as gluten-free choices... even Paleo diet options. I had a wild mushroom and cream soup, but could  have opted for a consommé with quail egg and matzo dumpling. My king  prawns were six succulent shrimp dusted with herbs. Grilled vegetables  were done just right.

My husband’s pike had a mild yet satisfying flavor. But dessert, at only  124 calories, was particularly good because it was a chocolate mousse,  without sugar.  Part of their Paleo, low-calorie selections, the secret  ingredients are banana, whipped to create a mousse, and a touch of  honey. Heaven-in-a-bowl.

Breakfast offered wide choices in cuisines to satisfy global palates. Everything  you could want from porridge to herring to varied egg concoctions,  pastries, even bubbly to mix with fruit juices. And bracing java, always a must.

Corinthia Hotel Budapest _Suite_Room

We stayed on the Executive Floor with a room facing out onto a lovely  courtyard with marble floors. The Executive Lounge on the second floor  is intimate, yet sophisticated. Guests may use the Board Room right off the Lounge. It is a great place for a glass of wine or spirits, a  coffee (cappuccinos, etc. made to order), or creative snacks, all  gratis, as part of the rate for Executive rooms. It overlooks the lobby, nice for listening to strains of music or using the Business Lounge  next door.

The hotel can accommodate business clients, families, and cruise ship  passengers. A whole wing caters to conventions and business meetings,  with plenty of conference rooms and flexible facilities. They easily  can handle 1,000 people or more. Want to put a car on display? No  problem. The grand ballroom is one space that has not been modernized,  thank the Lord. Stately portraits of famous Hungarians look down on you from on high. The musician’s platform above the marbled floors is still there in this evocative formal space.

Corinthia Hotel Budapest_Spa

The Espa spa at the Corinthia is big, gracious and inviting. The swimming  pool, in aqua mosaics, is big enough for strong lap swimming and more. A balcony overlooks the green dappled pool. Immaculate treatment rooms  and a gym complete the picture.  Seaweed or chocolate massage anyone?

Tibor Meskal, Senior Duty Manager, led us on daily tour of the hotel. I  recommend it. He has been with the hotel many years, and seen so much.  The history of the hotel, built at the turn of the century, includes  serving as headquarters for the Hungarian revolt in 1956. In 1961, it  was rebuilt as a luxury hotel. Although it became rundown and closed in  1991, it has been lovingly restored and enhanced by its new owner,  Corinthia Hotels.

As I wandered through the vast stately lobby, there were mementos from  early guests like American singer/dancer Josephine Baker. In recent  years everyone from singer Ella Fitzgerald to actress Isabella  Rossellini, billionaire George Soros and former prime minister Gerhard  Schroeder have stayed here -- not to mention author Ken Follett and actors Donald Sutherland and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Along with guiding us through an exhibit of the hotel’s history in the lower  lobby and a quick tour of the pastry-centric café, we went to see the  Presidential Suite. Besides its two bedrooms, it has a study with a  separate entrance, a dining room, and a kitchen. On the highest floor  facing the boulevard, its 2,400 square feet create a thoughtfully  designed “home”.

And my stay on the Executive Floor felt like home, too. But, alas, there  were no zany antics or intrusions, as in the film. It is just a  first-rate, 5-star hotel to call home for a few days.

 

 

 

© February 2016, LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.

 

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