Opened in 1896 as the Grand Hotel Royal, a hub for the elite of 19th century society, CORINTHIA BUDAPEST has undergone an extensive modification throughout the 20th century, and has in the 21st century been meticulously restored and reopened as the Corinthia Budapest.
With the Budapest property, Corinthia Hotels has established itself as ‘specialist’ in the restoration of heritage buildings, Corinthia London being yet another superb illustration – the upcoming Corinthia Bucharest is also housed in an astonishing historical hotel frequented by Europe’s Royalty.
The Malta based hotel group still controlled by the Pisani family and founder Alfred Pisani, has not only excelled in recreating and enhancing the comfort and facilities of these historical buildings but also implementing a solid culture of customer service, for many year after opening, Corinthia being ranked as the No. 1 luxury hotel of the Hungarian metropolis.
Despite not being part of the hotels by the Danube with at least partial views, Corinthia Budapest occupies a most convenient downtown location within walking distance to all the major attractions of the city, with public transportation such such the iconic yellow trams running in front of the hotel. With its two restaurants, bar, extensive meeting facilities and the grand thermal Spa, Corinthia Budapest is a destination in itself.
Thanks to the grandeur of the heritage building which comprises the Corinthia Budapest, the hotel group was able to include a stunning grand Spa, with a lavish painted-glass enclosed thermal pool very similar to the city’s leading thermal baths at the Gellert. Also, the hotel boasts the most impressive events & meetings spaces, including one of the finest luxury ballrooms at any luxury hotel in Europe.
The main Ballroom which used to house the very first cinema in Budapest is, until today, hosting the most sophisticated events such as the New Year’s Eve Ball or classical dance and ballet events. The sheer size of the ballroom and its decadent Empire style may easily remind you of being in one of the rooms of the Versailles Palace.
Several classical concerts were held in the Royal Ballroom, and Béla Bartók, the Hungarian composer, frequently conducted music there. The Royal soon became a topic of journalists. In 1909, the first Hungarian airplane was exhibited in one of the hotel’s cours d’honneur. With the growing popularity of the motion picture, the Ballroom ceased to exist as a part of the hotel and was reconstructed as the Royal Apollo cinema.
Another major competitive advantage of the Corinthia Budapest is the fact that its inventory size can easily accommodate a fairly large corporate group, including events, while the front Palace Building remains ‘dedicated’ to the most discerning individual travellers.
I was fortunate to indulge in one of the hotel’s superbly renovated Suites, with high floors, large windows, a majestic bedroom with an incredibly comfortable bed and a separate cozy living area, both areas being ideal either for leisure guests traveling alone or with children but also for corporate guests who may extend their stay into a leisure one, therefore, transforming the mood and dynamic of the space.
Another major highlight of the hotel is its palatial lobby and the grand staircase which leads up to the Grand Ballroom. The staircase is a picture and video perfect spot for special events such as wedding or the set up of one of the largest natural Christmas trees in Budapest, every year, for the Festive Season.
But beyond the stunning building, Corinthia Budapest has established itself a reputation thanks to the very high standards of service throughout the entire hotel, especially the restaurants, Spa and the Executive Lounge. Despite the relatively large number of accommodations inventory and quite high occupancy levels, I did not feel ‘ignored’, on the contrary, many of the staff going out of their way to provide an exceptional experience.
The main restaurant of the hotel which sits under the huge glass cupola flooded in natural light serves a flawless menu of Hungarian dishes, including the world famous foie gras (Hungary is the world’s second largest exporter of the best quality foie gras in the world) not to mention the famous Goulash soup and the mangalica natural fed pork. I would highly recommend you also try one of the exceptional Hungarian wines, the hotel boasting a very wide selection – do not forget the Tokay!
In spite of major competitors opening after the Corinthia, such as the Four Seasons Gresham Palace or The Ritz-Carlton, Corinthia Budapest has succeeded in maintaining a consistent offering both in terms of hardware and software, the most recent four years of success being driven by the very young and talented luxury hotelier Jean-Pierre Mifsud, who has proven to be able to implement very fast strategies to fight the two challenges of Budapest’s luxury hotel market – the scarcity of the HR market and the positioning of the destination of being less upscale due to a pricing war and a countless number of low-cost airlines which connect Budapest for less than 50 euros to all mid-size and large cities of Europe.
Oliver Petcu in Budapest
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