The official opening of the Grand Hotel Royal, the jewel in the crown of the newly-developed Andrássy Avenue, was taking place. Budapest was in the throes of the Millennium Exhibition, and the hotel was quick to become a favourite haunt of local luminaries like Jenő Heltay, Sándor Hunyadi, Lajos Nagy, and Gyula Krúdy. With a riotous blend of state-of-the-art features and contemporary glamour, the building housed a palm garden, confectioners, cellar bar and grocery store among other things (a bank, post office and hairdresser to name a few). This hub of innovation and activity even attracted the Lumiére brothers, who picked the hotel as the venue for the first screening of a motion picture in Budapest. The cinema became a permanent part of the hotel, and concertgoers were also regularly treated to performances conducted by Béla Bartók himself. In 1909, the hotel even exhibited the very first Hungarian aeroplane.
Like so many grand buildings of its era, the Royal suffered during the Second World War, serving as an office building as well as a hotel. Unfortunate events continued in the 1950s and '60s, with a fire destroying most of the roof, and an extensive restoration project stripping away most of the original interior features. Even the re-opening of the cinema in 1959, now renamed the Red Star cinema, couldn't bring back the magic of that first opening.
When Corinthia re-opened the hotel in 2003, it was only after a loving, record-breaking €100 million renovation, during which restoring elegance was the top priority. Hungarian plasterwork adorns the walls, giving an unmistakeable local flavour. The hotel is a monument to modern luxury, with a tasteful respect for the past evident round every corner.
While the Romans should win credit for founding Budapest's thermal springs, the city has certainly embraced the pastime ever since, 'taking the waters' regularly, and with gusto. We are proud to continue this Hungarian tradition with our Royal Spa, which has been lovingly restored to its original Art Deco splendour.
Although no longer Royal in name, we take our prestigious history very seriously. Here are some of the ways the legacy stays alive...
Go behind the scenes with Tibor Meskál, who first worked in the halls and atria of this iconic building in the 1950s. There is nobody better to guide you round the historical artifacts and hidden secrets. The tour runs Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:30am and lasts one hour, contact our concierge to reserve a place.
Famous for her bewitching burlesque, legendary performer Josephie Baker graced our very own Orfeum Club stage with her presence in 1928. Look out for her influence in decadent events held throughout the year.
A thorough history of our hotel can be found in our edition of: "The Most Famous hotels in the World" by Andreas Augustin. the book was put together by a team of historians, and contains a mixture of anecdotes, facts and interviews. The book can be purchased at the concierge desk for €32.
In 2012, Wes Anderson and his team visited Corinthia Hotel Budapest to review archive materials. A few years later Anderson's vision was realised, and the golden age of hospitality took centre stage when The Grand Budapest Hotel was premiered. The film tapped into a nostalgia for a bygone era, and cemented Hollywood's love for the picturesque city of Budapest.
Upon the film's release in 2014, Corinthia Budapest played host to a whirlwind of activity, taking press behind the scenes, celebrating the history of the hotel and highlighting the life of a concierge.