History of the hotel


The historical background of the Grand Hotel Royal
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the Grand Hotel Royal has been reinvented and rebranded under the careful eye of Corinthia. Since opening its doors in 2004, Corinthia Budapest has entertained the great and the good but its history as the Grand Hotel Royal goes much further back. So let us take a step back in time and investigate the past life of this Hungarian hospitality juggernaut.

A New Urban Concept
The course of the Grand Boulevard (Nagykörút), upon which Corinthia Hotel Budapest resides, was marked out during the 1870s together with Andrássy Avenue, Budapest’s most impressive street. The road went through a thinly populated part of suburban Budapest, so its development was rather slow, and only a few buildings were constructed in the 1870s. The real development of the Grand Boulevard began once Andrássy Avenue was completed in 1884.

The Royal Christening
The Grand Hotel Royal was originally opened for visitors of the highly successful Millennium Exhibition in 1896. A joint-stock company, established by the most important hotel owners of the day, including the chairman Frigyes Glück and the planner architect Rezső Ray, had succeeded in purchasing the largest piece of real estate on the developing Grand Boulevard.
By this time the Grand Boulevard had become the main artery of the Hungarian capital and the hotel rooms enjoyed superb views of this most attractive part of Budapest. The official opening ceremony was on 30th April 1896 attracting many visitors and after its opening; the Royal became a regular haunt of contemporary Hungarian writers and journalists, including Jenő Heltay, Sándor Hunyadi, Lajos Nagy, and Gyula Krúdy.
At the time of its opening, the hotel comprised of 350 guest rooms, the adjacent building and attic rooms for the staff. The architectural style was French renaissance and the latest technology of the era was used throughout. The aim was to create a building equipped for the highest levels of luxury, with high quality services and professionally organised operations.
Besides the facilities (post office, bank, hairdresser, and ticket office) guests and the public had access to two restaurants, a café, a Gerbeaud confectionery and private dining rooms. In the cellar, there was not only a grocery store but also a bar. In the western cour d’honneur a palm garden made the court more attractive. In 1896, the year of its opening, the Lumiére brothers held the first screening of a motion picture in Budapest at the hotel, an event which would later become a regular exhibition. While also housing an early incarnation of the cinema, several classical concerts were held in the Royal Ballroom, and Béla Bartók, the world-famous Hungarian composer, frequently conducted music there.

However, with the growing popularity of the motion picture, the Royal Ballroom ceased to exist as a part of the hotel when it was reconstructed as the Royal Apollo cinema. After the Second World War, it reopened its doors in 1959 as the Red Star cinema with its entrance on Hársfa Street. As well as hosting the first motion picture screening in the country, to add to its trove of firsts and to show how truly forward-thinking they were, in 1909, the first Hungarian aeroplane was exhibited in one of the hotel’s cour d’honneur.

Decline, Fall and Rise
From the Second World War until 1953, the Royal served not only as a hotel, but also as an office building. In 1953 the building was restored to become a hotel, but just three years later the roof was destroyed by fire. This unfortunate event forced the architects to reconstruct the whole building. The Royal was intended to be a hotel representative of the age, since none of the hotels which now line the Danube bank had been established yet. István Janáky, architect of the reconstruction, reconsidered the building’s interior in the space idealism of his age. Today, no remaining fragments of the original interior can be found as the demolition and reconstruction in 1956 sadly destroyed every trace. In 1961 the Royal was re-opened as a hotel with 367 guest rooms, but over the years the hotel became obsolete and finally, it was closed in the autumn of 1991, although the cinema continued working until the autumn of 1997.

The original visitor’s book contains the signatures of some of the most important people from Europe and the rest of the world. Just a few examples are Max Reinhardt, Asta Nilsen, Saljapin, Valdemar Psylander, Professor Barnard, Roberto Benzi, Mario del Monaco, Anna Moffo, Renata Scotto, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Amerigo Tot and Valentina Tereskova.


In honour of legendary French/American Jazz entertainer Josephine Baker, our culinary team has created the Royal Cake, a glorious gluten-free chocolate and raspberry-based delicacy inspired by her stunning performance at our Orfeum Club in 1928.


The display not only presents the key events of the past decade, but takes us on a journey back in time more than 100 years to reveal the history of the building.


From the Grand Hotel Royal to Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel.


From stunning spa space, to crumbling ruin, to fully-restored glory, discover the story behind our fabulous Royal Spa.

The Most Famous Hotels in the World by Andreas Aug

Read the full story of our hotel through the eyes of a great author.


Join us on a journey back to 1896 with our longest-serving staff member.


At Corinthia, we always strive to provide the best rates on our website. If you don’t think we have, we’ll pay for 100% of your room on the first night, and price match the rest. Should you find a lower price elsewhere, please submit a claim within 24 hours of your original booking and we will respond within two working days. Please note, this also applies to discounts and promotions available on Corinthia.com.

Process for making a claim:

Step 1. If within 24 hours of a confirmed reservation with Corinthia Hotels made on Corinthia.com, you find a lower rate for the same hotel, room type, inclusions, stay dates, discounts and payment conditions, please contact the relevant email address from the list below to make your claim. All claims must be made within 24 hours of the original booking and at least 24 hours prior to the standard check-in time of the hotel.

Step 2. Your claim should be supported by the URL where the lower rate was found and a screen shot which clearly displays the date of stay, room type, same hotel, inclusions and payment conditions of the lower rate offering on the competing website. Please include your contact information (name, email and phone number).

Step 3. If we are able to verify that the lower rate found qualifies for the Best Rate Guarantee, and all other terms and conditions are met, Corinthia Hotels will pay for 100% of the room charges of your first night, and will price match the room for the rest of your stay. You will be charged for all nights booked at the matched rate, minus the first night which will be free.

To make your claim, email the relevant hotel on one of the following:
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
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[email protected]

First night free, match rate for rest of stay, no minimum nights

Terms and Conditions:

Corinthia Hotels guarantees the best online rate on corinthia.com based on the following terms and conditions:

1. Your original booking must have been made through corinthia.com.
2. The lower rate must be found and the claim submitted by email within 24 hours of the original booking and at least 24 hours prior to the standard check-in time at the hotel. If the original booking was made within 24 hours of arrival, the Best Rate Guarantee is not applicable.
3. The Best Rate Guarantee only applies to published rates available to the general public online, which can be found and booked immediately without any kind of restriction or payment restrictions.
4. The lower rate found must be for exactly the same booking criteria - the same hotel, the same room type, same inclusions, the same stay dates, same number of guests, the same rate description and, if applicable, the same promotion. The cancellation and advance purchase policy and all other terms and conditions of the stay must also be identical. If the claim refers to a reservation consisting of several nights' accommodation, the average rate for each night will be compared to the average rate for each night, for an identical reservation, using the website where the lower rate is found.
5. Corinthia Hotels will verify the lower rate claim and respond within two working days of the claim being made. *Claims will be processed from Monday to Friday, between 9am to 5pm, at the hotel's local time.
6. The rate comparison will be made net of any taxes, gratuities or any other fees or charges associated with the room rate, and the lower rate must still be available at the time the hotel validates the claim.
7. The Best Rate Guarantee is void where prohibited by law. Corinthia Hotels reserves the right to modify or cancel its Best Rate Guarantee policy at any time in its sole discretion and without prior notice.
8. Corinthia Hotels has the sole right and discretion to determine the validity of any claim, including without limitation, determining that the lower rate found is genuinely available and that the claim meets all terms and conditions. In case of dispute, Corinthia Hotels' decision is final.
9. In the case of a fully prepaid rate booked through corinthia.com, Corinthia Hotels will refund the difference to your credit card, if applicable, within 30 business days of submitting your claim. Corinthia Hotels is not responsible for any fees associated with cancelling a reservation made through a different channel.
10. Best Rate Guarantee will be suspended during times where corinthia.com or certain rates are not available due to an outage, a technical issue or a circumstance beyond Corinthia Hotels' reasonable control.
11. The Best Rate Guarantee does not apply to rates found offline, negotiated corporate rates, group or MICE rates, opaque provider rates or rates requiring membership in a club or other organization, governmental rates, direct mail or email solicitations, rates offered by providers that do not supply the name or location of the hotel until after a reservation has been made or other rates that are not available to the general public. We reserve the right to deny a claim if the availability of the Competing Rate cannot be independently verified at the time of processing the claim.
12. The Best Rate Guarantee does not apply to packaged rates. Packaged rates include Hotel accommodations sold as part of a travel package in which the Hotel does not provide all services (including but not limited to airfare and/or car rental, tours etc.) and Hotel accommodations sold with additional amenities.
13. Corinthia Hotels may deny a claim where the difference between the rates is less than 1%.
14. If the Competing Rate is in a different currency from the rate booked on corinthia.com, the Competing Rate will be converted into the same currency as the rate offered on our website using the exchange rate as published in www.xe.com in place at the time the initial reservation was made. Discrepancies may occur between Corinthia Hotels' rate and the Competing Rate due to differences in exchange rate sources. If the rate discrepancy is solely due to exchange rate fluctuations, we reserve the right to deny the claim.