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Corinthia Hotel Budapest is one of the grandest hotels in the city of Budapest and one with a rich culture and heritage. At Vada, we chose to take up a three-night residence as a base to explore the city, relaxing in the abundant spas and eating our way through a riddle of restaurants.
Corinthia Hotel is part of the luxury chain, spread across nine cities, with the Budapest venue located on Erzsébet Krt (road), a few minute’s walk from Oktogon tube station and Avenue Andrassy where the must-visit Terror Museum is located.
Originally constructed in 1896, under the name Grand Hotel Royal, it was the only five-star hotel in Budapest and was well-known for its ballroom where glamorous balls and concerts were held. The hotel has since been occupied twice as a base during the War, the primary reason because it was one of the few buildings in Budapest with its own backup generator, which it still has today. It’s reassuring to know for hotel guests that should the city block ever suffer a power cut, the hotel’s lights (and elevators) will stay on.
Another notable moment from the hotel’s history is the ballroom hosting the Lumière brothers, to screen the first motion picture in Hungary (the only other venue outside of Paris and London at the time), which led to the ballroom becoming a separate cinema, twice. In 2003 the hotel was redeveloped by the Corinthia group and re-opened as a luxury hotel.
The hotel arranged a taxi transfer from the airport, which is a 30-minute drive to the hotel. On arrival at Corinthia Hotel Budapest, you can’t help but stop for a moment and marvel at the marble lobby and grand staircase. As guests booked into an Executive King Room we were directed to the Executive Lounge, which features a private check-in area, with welcome drink – bubbly, of course!
Service was professional and relaxed. We were comfortably seated, sipping our drinks whilst the staff checked our booking and confirmed our spa reservations and upcoming activities. The service was seamless. For example, the bell boy was automatically summoned to take our bags to our room just as we left the lounge after a light lunch – we did not have to enquire about our cases at all. First class service was prevalent throughout our stay, and was a key factor in feeling very relaxed throughout our stay.
The Executive Lounge (where we checked in) is located on the mezzanine level at the front of the hotel. All guests who have booked into an Executive Room or Suite will have access to this lounge, which offers complimentary food and drink throughout the day. Given its location within the hotel, it means it is quickly accessible and offers views over the boulevard. However what we were most impressed by was the size of this lounge. Whereas some hotel brands simply create a small lounge in the equivalent space of one of their hotel rooms, Corinthia has curated a vast, elegant space, where guests can comfortably relax with plenty of personal space. The lounge is zoned, with an area to dine, an area to relax and a business area.
Staff were readily available whenever we wanted a specific drink made, or a top up of bubbly, even remembering our preference. Strictly speaking, this is Hungarian sparkling wine, but rest assured any champagne aficionados, you will not be disappointed with these offerings.
Our reservation at Corinthia Hotel Budapest was for an Executive King Room (room number 2105). This was a spacious (34 square metres), mahogany-decorated room, with a glorious marble bathrooms. All the Executive Rooms have views across the Atrium (like ours) or the boulevard. Admittedly we found our window opening onto the Atrium unusual, but there was no lack of privacy or light. The room featured the usual gadgetry: HD TV, complimentary wifi (which had no problem streaming video) and a Nespresso machine. It is in the attention to detail of the finishes that we felt the luxury of this hotel. The bed and pillows passed our comfort test and the daily turn-down service included a speciality chocolate of that day.
Our room was very conveniently located opposite the separate lift that takes guests to the Royal Spa on the ground floor – this meant we didn’t have to shuffle about in our hotel robes and slippers through any of the main public areas en route to the spa.
The Royal Spa
The Royal Spa in Corinthia Hotel Budapest has a luxurious Art-Deco style interior, and offers a wide range of services from results-driven facials to luxurious body treatments. We booked a one-hour aromatherapy massage – the treatment rooms for which are set a floor above and around the central pool are in the spa. The massage itself was professional, relaxing and in fact the perfect way to start a city break, so we would definitely recommend booking a treatment. The Royal Spa uses ESPA products, which are also available to purchase should you choose.
The Royal Spa is free to access for all hotel guests. It features a 15-metre pool, saunas, steam baths and jacuzzis and plenty of areas to relax. There is also a fitness centre that we visited, and given the luxury throughout the rest of the hotel we were a little disappointed that this space was smaller than the room we were staying in with a limited range of gym equipment. Whilst there is an argument that the central pool and steam rooms are the main focus of the spa, for a five-star hotel the fitness centre was underwhelming.
There are a total of six dining outlets in Corinthia Hotel Budapest, which provide an excellent range of options, from the Michelin star Rickshaw and Brasserie & Atrium restaurants to the Rock Bistro and the Szamos Marzipan Royal Cafe. Le Bar and the Orfeum Club both offer luxury cocktails, the latter even showcasing music and cabaret, although no drag shows that we were aware of.
Breakfast is served in the Brasserie and Atrium, where we ate each morning. There are multiple stations with so many offerings that we imagine whatever you’re in the mood for, you will be satisfied – and if you would like to start the day with a glass of something more decadent, there is chilled bubbly also. Throughout our stay we sampled a range of fresh juices, hot food, smoked salmon on rye bread and found it all to be of a high standard. The staff were attentive throughout the service and gave a genuine feeling of being looked after without being pestered.
One evening we also dined in the same restaurant, to try the Michelin star offering of executive chef Peter Bolyki. The menu is bound in a wooden cover, which did give a certain fairytale quality but it was a little cumbersome to balance over the table. Again the selection promoted the best of Hungarian cuisine and wines – which we’d recommend trying, specifically the Vida Peter Oregtokek Kadarkaja 2012, Szekszard.
What stood out as exceptionally exceptional were the goose liver terrine starter served with dark chocolate and fresh coconut, and the milk chocolate caramel slice with salted hazelnuts and chocolate sauce – whilst the sugar-work was slightly grainy, the dessert overall was still divine and curiously served on a glass bottle! Main courses such as the grilled pike perch served with ratatouille, potato foam and garlic ash, and the confit of duck leg with foie gras and kumquat reduction both impressed.
Corinthia Hotel Budapest has really considered every aspect of a guests journey through the hotel to ensure guests’ stays are as seamless and relaxing as possible. For high-end travellers this five-star hotel with unrivalled spa facilities in Budapest, Michelin star dining options and elegant accommodation is a destination in itself. Being LGBT, we did not feel unwelcome (from either staff or other guests) at any point during our stay. Staff were genuine, courteous and attentive.
To find out more and to book a stay, visit Corinthia Hotel Budapest online. Bookings made directly are eligible for free room upgrades and free wifi amongst other benefits. Offers and promotions currently available are listed at corinthia.com/hotels/budapest/offers/.