Ferenc Liszt in the Grand Hotel – a visit to the Corinthia’s presidential suite
Photo : Corinthia Hotel
We Love Budapest
25/2/2013, 5:29 PM●6-minute article
We are about to present another luxurious presidential suite, which can be found in the Corinthia Hotel Budapest, quite nearby to Király utca. As every historical hotel, Corinthia has important memories, which combines glorious, tragic, comic and turning moments at the same time. This worldly famous hotel room (which was named after Ferenc Liszt) is just another proof, that real quality can only be created on the meeting point of the eventful past and the five-star present.
Let’s just start off our history lesson from the beginning. The former Corinthia, called the Grand Hotel Royal Budapest was founded in 1896 for the world exposition on Erzsébet körút. The architecture was Rezső Lajos Ray (who previously designed the Lukács Spa), the construction lasted for 2 years.
The hotel’s elegance drew the first-class intellectuals of the society to this place. The famous Hungarian writers of this era often met in the New York Kávéház, but then their discussion, or even their whole night continued in the Grand Hotel Royal. Despite of their continuous presence, literature was not the only art form, which brought culture to this spot.
On 10 May 1896 the hotel became a starting point for Hungarian cinema, since it was the first place, where people could watch the motion pictures screened by the Lumiere brothers. After almost 20 years later, cinema returned to the Grand Hotel Royal. In 1915 the unused ball and concert hall became the Royal Apollo Cinema with 1000 seats. In 1950, the socialist regime renamed it to Vörös Csillag (meaning Red Star), and after the fall of the Iron Curtain it became Apollo again, but it was shut down in 1997.
Quarantine at the Grand Hotel
As usual, the Grand Hotel Royal did not only see sunny days in its history. Due to its central location, not only the great minds and powerful thinkers were usual guests, but the invading armies as well. The building (which was built in the French renaissance style) survived World War II without sustaining physical damage, but the fact, that the Gestapo officers became the Grand Hotel Royal‘s everyday guests instead of beautiful minds, like Josephine Baker, clearly destroyed some of the place’s reputation. The Nazis preferred this building not only because of its central location, but the generator could produce electricity even in the darkest times. Until 1953 the building functioned as an office, and then it returned to being a hotel again.
Three years later the revolution broke out against the Soviet occupation, and the building was severely damaged, for example the roof was completely burnt down. The socialist regime needed a high-end, luxurious place to show off wealth, and since the hotels near the bank of the Danube were only smoke and dust after the war, the Grand Hotel Royal was the perfect choice. The serious and substantial reconstruction works began in 1957.
The reborn, aristocratic hotel opened its doors in 1961 with 367 rooms, and 2 years later a weird chain of events brought Grand Hotel Royal back to the center of the attention. According to Oscar Wilde, life seems to imitate art more than art imitates life, and what happened on 14 August 1963 certainly proved this idea, because more or less Jenő Rejtő’s famous pulp fiction, Quarantine at the Grand Hotel happened in real life circumstances. The doctors mistakenly diagnosed the rash on the housekeeper’s skin as the sign of black pox, and the authorities ordered quarantine in the hotel until 20 September. While the lucky staff members who were on their duty at the quarantine’s starting moment could enjoy the hotel’s first class benefits, and fill their stomachs with delicious meals, the rest of the crew were taken to the St. John’s Hospital’s epidemic department. The two locations had one thing in common; lifelong friendships were made during the quarantine’s time. We don’t want to drop clichés in every second line, but history really repeated itself, when the hotel was closed in 1991.
After a huge rat invasion and some real estate issues the Maltese Corinthia Hotels International decided to put this amazing building back on the market. After the reopening in 2004, it was selected as the most beautiful hotel in Europe. The newly found Corinthia Hotel Budapest was expanded with a glazed atrium, a sixth floor and almost 50 new rooms. The deluxe hotel is still a diamond of Erzsébet körút, which is often visited by celebrities, such as Pink, Gerard Depardieu, Jean Reno, Paul Anka, Donald Sutherland, Catherine Deneuve and José Carreras.
The wings of the president
After this long trip down memory lane, let’s jump back to the present and take a look around in the presidential suite, which was named after the Hungarian pianist, Ferenc Liszt. The incredibly spacious, 240 m2suite has a living room with two couches in front of each other and a coffee table. Besides this tasty furniture, solid elegance and four dominant colors (beige, bordo, gold and dark brown) are all over the place. If you look out from the window, you can see four sculptures, which are the four seasons’ goddesses, they are the patron saints of the hotel. They were a gift from the French government in 1896, and it sounds like a miracle, but all of them survived the rough historical eras.
The two wings of the suite are like twins. The first room of the right one is a lounge area with an office desk. The next room is the bedroom with a dome and decorated by mood lighting, then you can find a well-equipped bathroom with a tub and a shower as well, and after it you’ll walk to every woman’s dream: a capacious wardrobe.
The left wing is much more devious, than the other one. First, you can find a service kitchen with a cigar-shaped dining table in it, and then a hallway leads us to the other bedroom-bathroom pair.
There is not much difference between the two, but still, it is obvious. The bathroom is smaller, so as the shower, but the bath offers impressive massage options. The bedroom’s difference can be noticed at the furniture’s’ style and form.
We felt like a time traveler, when we left the hotel and started walking on the snowy Erzsébet körút, because Corinthia‘s tangled history, the presidential suite’s interior (designed by Joshua Judd and GA Design) and the hotel’s modern, but still a bit traditional atmosphere, certainly had an impact on us. We were not sure for a second, which century are we at that moment.